This is it. The final stretch. Graduation day is just about five months away. So how can you be sure you'll be ready for what’s next after you receive that diploma?
Whether you’re in high school or college, your final semester is one of the most important ones of your academic career. What you choose to do over the next few months can have a major impact — either positive or negative — on your future. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re doing all the right things with what little time you have left.
YOUR FINAL SEMESTER OF HIGH SCHOOL
Back in September we focused on how to make the most of your senior year in high school. We talked about getting active and not getting caught in the trap of “senioritis.” We talked about stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new things to help with the transition to college. We talked about staying in the present—focusing on your classes and current responsibilities and making sure to enjoy every moment of this final year. And we also talked about making sure to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. These are also important things to keep in mind as you make your way through these last four or five months.
Now that the end is in sight, so to speak, there’s a few more things you can be doing to maximize your time before you don that cap and gown.
Learn How to Be Independent
More than likely, by the end of the summer you’ll be out of your parents’ house and on your own as you begin college. After that, it’s all up to you; there won't be anyone to take care of you anymore. If you haven’t done so already, learn how to do your own laundry. If you’re taking a car to college, learn how to change a tire and jump a battery. And be sure to read up on proper time management. Remember, there won’t be anyone there to drag you out of bed anymore. It’s all up to you. Start learning how to be independent now so it won’t be such a shock come August.
Don’t Miss the Deadlines
This is it. If you haven’t submitted your college applications yet, do so—NOW! Don’t wait until the last minute and risk missing the deadlines. After that you can start focusing on your scholarship applications. And be sure to apply for free financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Savor These Final Days of High School
With college decisions and applications on your mind, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of the next phase of your life. Although it’s important to prepare for college, it’s also important to stay in the present and not miss out on this memorable time of your life. Spend time with your friends. Talk to your teachers outside of class. Go to a basketball game or your school play. Soak up every last day of high school because, before you know it, it will all be a memory.
YOUR FINAL SEMESTER OF COLLEGE
If this is your final semester of college, a lot of the same things apply: focus on your studies, appreciate the moment, spend time with the people who have meant a lot to you over the past few years, etc. But you also should be making sure that you’re taking the necessary steps to make sure your transition into your career is a successful one.
Network, Network, Network
The old saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know”, has a lot of truth to it. Chances are you’ll get the job you want because someone tells you about it or recommends you for it. Therefore, it’s important to make as many solid connections as you can right now. Make sure your fellow students know your career aspirations. Meet with your professors and seek their advice. Attend any networking events your school may be hosting in the next few months. And if you haven’t done so already, join LinkedIn and start connecting online. Start building a solid network today so that you can leverage it after graduation and years down the road.
Get Your Résumé in Order
It won’t be long before you start applying to jobs, so there’s no better time than the present to start crafting a killer résumé. Make sure to list any valuable experience you have or internships you’ve completed. Focus on your activities and your accomplishments over the past few years. What special skills have you acquired that will catch the eye of potential employers? After you’ve got it all down on paper (and also on your LinkedIn profile), share it with a résumé expert or someone with a good eye for detail to make sure it’s put together well and mistake-free. Your résumé is the first thing employers will see of you—make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.
Visit the Career Center
Hopefully you’ve visited your college career center at some point over the past few years. If not, now’s the time to take advantage of this incredible resource. Schedule an appointment or just drop in and ask to speak to a counselor about what steps you should be taking as you approach graduation. Let them know your plans — whether for your career or graduate school — and ask them for any information or advice they can provide to make sure you’re on the right track.
Have a Great Time
Of course, although you want to make sure you’re using this final semester to properly prepare for your career, it’s also important that you have a great time, too. This is college, after all. Never again will you have so much freedom. Never again will you be surrounded by so many close friends. This is where you learned how to be independent and discovered who you really are. Enjoy every last minute of these oh-so-special days. You’ll remember them for the rest of your life! ~