Four years isn’t a long time when you truly think about it.
Before you know it, you’re placing the graduation cap on your head and walking across the stage to receive your diploma. It was a great run… you learned new things, made new friends, and prepared yourself to enter the job market.
But did you really take advantage of all the great resources and activities that your college years provide?
Although there are tons of things that could go on this list, I wanted to include my top 10 things every college student should do before graduating.
*Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I will receive compensation if you purchase a product through one of the links. Please note that I only include products I personally support and recommend.*
1. Show Your School Spirit – Attend Sporting Events
Most colleges offer free or low-cost tickets to the various sporting events that take place on-campus, so make sure you take advantage! I know that I tried to go to as many home football games as I could. It was so awesome to be in the midst of a bunch of screaming students who were screaming and jumping around. It’s quite the experience!
Going to sporting events is one of the things that I hear a lot of college graduates talk about. This is on my list of 10 things every college student should do before graduating because you may never get a chance to sit in the student section again. On top of that, you usually get the best tickets in the house, you have an excuse to paint your face, and the tailgating options are endless. If I could go back, I would have definitely made an effort to attend more sporting events on-campus.
Do yourself a favor – even if you don’t like sports, go support your players. They’ll appreciate the fact that you showed up to fill the stands!
2. Get Involved with an Organization or Club
There are SO many organizations and clubs available to you in college, and they cover literally ever interest you could imagine. A lot of schools have activity fairs during the first couple weeks of the fall semester so that you can talk with current members and sign up for those things that interest you.
Clubs are awesome because they’re fun, free, and a great way to make friends! I took a chance and signed up for a step team when I went to my school – I had absolutely no experience with it and felt entirely out of place at first, but I learned a lot and grew to really enjoy our weekly practices. I also made some awesome friends along the way and got to meet other steppers across the city!
3. Participate in an Internship
I know – it may not be the most exciting activity for a college student, but it sure is a valuable one! When you are sitting in your first interview and the person asks if you have any relevant experience, you are going to wish that you had taken that internship position rather than partying all the time.
I’m not saying that you should have absolutely no fun at all, but I am encouraging you to think about your future and what college is really about. The job market is a competitive one – give yourself the edge and get that experience under your belt.
4. Establish Professional Connections with a Few Professors
Establishing strong connections is one of the most important things every college student should do before graduating because you are going to need those contacts in the future. Your professors are the ones who will be writing graduate school recommendation letters (if you plan on going for an even higher degree), providing job references for you, and answering questions you have along the way.
Now, maintaining a professional connection with your professors does not mean that you are blowing up their phone every week, spamming their email inbox, and randomly showing up to their classes just to say hi.
I suggest introducing yourself early in the course (preferably on the first day), being active in class, and stopping by their office during regular hours to talk to them a little more about what you’re interested in doing with your career life. Ask them for some guidance and if they would be open to answering any future questions you have.
You’ll notice that if you are a good student (meaning you show up to class and turn in your assignments on time), participate in discussions, and take the time to get to know them, then they will be more willing to be a reference for you in the future.
Tip: After graduation, you may want to connect with your professors on LinkedIn so they can endorse your skills.
5. Start Paying Off Student Loans (or at Least the Interest)
If you are like me and had to take out student loans to get through school, then make an effort to start paying them off while you are still in school. Remember, the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest for subsidized loans while you are enrolled at least half-time, but unsubsidized loan interest is not covered by anyone.
That interest can come back to bite you in the booty after four years, so I highly recommend that you start paying on it as soon as you can – even if it’s just a few dollars here and there.
Making these small payments is something every college student should do before graduating so that the overall student loan debt bill won’t be so high.
To help reduce your student loan amounts, check out the following posts I wrote about financial aid:
- College Financial Aid Advice: Must-Know Tips
- College Financial Aid: 10 Free Websites You Need to Use
- How Long to Pay Off Student Loans – The Basics
6. Develop a Solid Resume
You would be surprised at how many college graduates do not have well-written resumes when they leave school.
Trust me, you want to spend time developing a strong resume before graduating… You’ll be competing with a lot of new graduates when you enter the job market and you want to stand out!
Your school’s career services center is a great resource for helping you develop a solid resume. You can help the process by bringing a list of your skills, experience (volunteer/paid/unpaid), and contact information with you.
7. Live With a Roommate
Some students are completely fine with having roommates while others want nothing to do with them.
Although you may want to have your own space, I highly encourage you to live with a roommate for at least a semester.
Having a roommate is going to force you to communicate with someone you may not know. You’ll have to talk about cleaning, room arrangements, and sleep schedules so that you can live together in peace (I recommend getting a calendar to help you keep track of who is in charge of doing what). This is a very important skill to have in the workforce because there are bound to be people that you don’t like at your job. Even so, you’ll still need to work together in harmony and communicate with each other so things can get done.
8. Travel Somewhere New
This is going to look differently for every student – Some may choose to study abroad for a semester while others may be content with taking a short road trip with a few close friends.
I think that traveling somewhere foreign (or at least foreign to you) could be one of the funnest things you end up doing during your college years!
I also think that traveling during this time is much easier than traveling when you’re an adult. Just think about how much vacation time and money you would have to save up to take a trip somewhere! (And let’s not even start about coordinating schedules … *cringe*)
9. Go Easy on the Social Media
We live in an electronic society. It’s rare to walk around campus and not see at least half of the students texting on their cell phones and updating their Facebook statuses.
I get it – we are a world that wants to be connected to literally everything.
Although social media has its perks, it also has its downfalls.
Think of all the things you are missing out on when you spend too much time on social media: meaningful conversations, the ability to take nonverbal cues, the ability to establish real friendships, the action of your school’s football game, and so much else!
I’m not saying to delete your profiles and take an entire break from social media, but I am going to encourage you to go easy on it… there are more important things in life.
10. One of the Most Important Things Every College Student Should Do Before Graduating… Try Something New!
I left this one broad on purpose. College is the perfect time to try something new, whether it be a new food, activity, or college subject.
Never participated in a sport? Join an intramural team.
Have no idea what Vietnamese food tastes like? Try some out.
College offers so many opportunities for you to do new things and see new places – don’t miss out!
What other ideas do you have?