Five Tips to Senior Year Survival

Senior year comes with a lot of stress, especially when you have so many things competing for your time (especially job hunting). Before you start planning for the big day, here are some tips to help make the final stretch of your college career a bit easier to manage.

With classes, extracurricular activities, job hunting, memory making and possibly dating, your last year at college can probably be labeled as one of the most exciting, nerve-racking and stressful times in your life. Whether you are a senior with a job lined up post graduation, are planning to attend graduate school, or are still looking for that great job or internship, these tips can help you make the most of your final months in college.

Start Making Some Big Decisions

“Am I going to go to graduate school?” “Do I want to move back home?” “Where do I want to work?” These choices can really change how you prepare for your final year and what happens during it.

If you are on the brink of graduation, make sure you have these questions in mind before you wake up one day after graduation and wonder what’s next.

Job opportunities can pop up anytime before or during your final year, so making these big decisions early can help you when other big decisions present themselves.

Plan Ahead

The first week of your final semester, create a calendar of all the deadlines, events and important dates you need to take care of before graduation.

I met with an academic counselor the first week of my last year to determine when I had to apply for graduation, order my cap and gown and turn in any final assignments so I was ready to graduate. I highly recommend doing this.

There’s nothing worse than being told two months before graduation that you are missing a required course because requirements changed in the last year.

Keep Focused

Senioritis will be spreading all over campus, and even though you may be set to graduate, slacking in classes will only hurt you in the end, so stay focused on your classes. Do your best to keep up in course work and, if possible, try to get ahead so your last month in school is less stressful.

Stay Engaged

No matter how close to graduation you are, staying engaged in activities such as PRSSA, your student-run firm, etc., is always important. The relationships you build and the experience you gain will benefit you whether or not you have a job lined up for after graduation. These activities could lead to internship or job opportunities.

Remember to network as much as possible. Professionals may be more open to speaking or working with you while you are still a student. Ask professors for letters of recommendation or to be a reference.

You should also continue to stay up-to-date on current news, monitor social media and research jobs if you don’t have one yet.

Your last semester is not the end of your student life; it is a transitioning period to a new focus. Staying engaged will help you make that transition smoothly.

Have Fun

With so much going on in just a few months, take some time to relax and have fun. Take advantage of the cheap student tickets to art exhibits, concerts and dance performances; participate in senior activities; or check out as many books from your university library as possible while you still have student resources available.

Instead of trying to accomplish everything, set your priorities and pass other opportunities to people who could benefit from them.

The Final Word

To those of you with job offers, congratulations! To those who don’t have one yet, I say, “Don’t give up hope!”

Opportunities can present themselves at any time. Have some goals set, but keep your plans flexible enough that you can accommodate a job or internship offer when it comes.

How have you planned ahead this semester to ensure you will complete everything on time and be prepared for what’s next?

Patrick Hernandez is a graduating senior majoring in communications with a public relations emphasis and minoring in editing at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He served as the Editor in Chief of PRSSA’s newspaper, FORUM, from 2009–2010, and has recently transitioned to PRSA as an associate member. After an internship with General Motors Company (GM) during the summer of 2010, he was offered a position in their communications department and will be joining General Motors full-time this spring. You can contact him via Twitter at @pnherdz.

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