My last year of college was a blur – I hadn’t taken the typical route to getting my degree (let’s just say I transferred, took some time off, and changed paths) and I was just focusing on finishing my last course so that I could get the heck out of dodge and start my life.
Although things have worked out and I’ve enjoyed actually getting into a career field and living an adult life, there are plenty of things I wish I knew as a college senior so that I could have taken better advantage of my time. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t regret how everything turned out, but there are things that I wish I had paid more attention to or had taken more time to be involved with.
I’m writing this in hopes of helping any college seniors out there who are hoping to end their college career on a high note because it’ll all be over before you know it.
Academic Related Things I Wish I Knew as a College Senior
1. Establishing Professional Relationships with Professors is a Must
You have no idea how many times jobs, internships, and graduate schools are going to ask you for references from a former professor. Trust me, you are going to wish you had made more of an effort to establish professional relationships with your professors once you start getting applications that ask you for letters of recommendation (especially if you don’t have any real world work experience yet).
If you are planning on getting a more advanced degree, then I HIGHLY advise you to get to know at least three of your undergraduate professors. Make sure they know your strengths, skills, and the goals you would like to achieve. Make an effort to stop by their office every now and then and also be an active participant in their classes so that when the time comes to ask for a recommendation, they will not have to question whether they know you enough or not.
2. Know How to Phonetically Spell Your Full Name
Okay, this seems like a weird one, but you would not believe how many students I had to help with this when I was working in one of the college offices. The reason you need to know how to phonetically spell your name is because you will most likely be asked to do it when you petition to graduate. Why? Because this is what the announcers at the graduation ceremony use to pronounce your name!
Don’t be that student who failed to write down your name appropriately on the form… There’s a chance your name may get butchered if you did.
3. Yes, Internships (or Other Work Experience) Really Can Help You Get a Job
You’d be surprised at the amount of students who walk across the stage to get their diploma without any work experience. They may have taken all the right classes, made a 4.0 GPA every semester, but the reality is that they may struggle to find work right away if they failed to take part in any internships, volunteer opportunities, or other work experience.
Employers want to know that their employees have at least some knowledge of the field and what to expect in the work environment. A student who is only book smart may understand all the practical applications of the job, but they may fail to comprehend how things actually work.
For example, a social work student could easily study human behaviors and psychology for four years and think they love the field, but once they actually get into the work itself, they may discover that there are a lot more things to deal with that the textbooks didn’t talk about (e.g. how to handle someone who is screaming at you or a child who is a danger to others).
I know a lot of college students overlook internships and volunteer opportunities because they are often unpaid, but do yourself a favor and take part in at least one or two before you graduate… You won’t regret it.
4. Good Grades Don’t Always Translate Into Being Hired Quickly
I had to put this on my list of things I wish I knew as a college senior because most graduates envision being hired right away, especially if they consistently made good grades. Although this may be true for some, the reality is that employers are looking for the perfect candidate. You could graduate magna cum laude and apply for the same job as tons of other recent grads, but if you don’t have the skills that the company is looking for, then you probably won’t get the job.
I’m absolutely not saying that you should slack off on your grades and just barely pass so that you can graduate – that wouldn’t be smart. What I’m getting at is that you want to balance yourself out so that you have more than just the good grades to showcase why you’re the best candidate for the position.
Activity Related Things I Wish I Knew as a College Senior
5. Sporting Events Should Be Attended as Much as Possible
I don’t know how many times I wished I could be at one of my school’s college football games again. Seriously, I think I said it every weekend during the fall when we took the field. I miss the feeling of being in the student section, yelling the various chants we had, and erupting in cheers as our team scored a touchdown.
I was busy working during a lot of my school’s sporting events, and I regret that I didn’t make more of an effort to watch more of the games. Although I made it to almost all the home football games, I failed to attend any other sport.
This may not be at the top of the list for those people out there who aren’t much into sports, but I still think it should be on there somewhere because it truly is an experience unlike anything else. You will never experience the same kind of spirit on the professional level and no seats are more lively than the student section. So the next time you’re contemplating whether you should go or not, just do it. Enjoy the game and have fun because these moments won’t last forever!
6. Utilize Your College Student Discounts for Anything and Everything
Y’all, there are SO many college student discounts that you can get. I’m talking movies, eating out, clothing, amusement parks, and so many others! Your college probably has an activities office that hands out discounted tickets and coupons to various places as well, so make sure you check those out.
7. Use the Rec Center for All It’s Worth
Oh my good gravy, gym memberships are expensive! You don’t realize how blessed you are to have a free recreation center to use on-campus until it’s gone. Even if you aren’t the type who uses the machines, at least go to enjoy a swim, take a fitness class, or play a game of racquetball.
My college had an amazing recreation center and although I used it a decent amount of time, I still regret not using it more. This made the list of things I wish I knew as a college senior because I would have been in that rec center every day if I had been in this mindset back when I was a student!
8. Make Some Friends that Share the Same Interests
I’ve found that things change very quickly when you become an adult. It seems like a lot of us go our separate ways and find ourselves immersed in our new careers, only to forget about the friendships that we made during our college years. It’s easy to have friends when you all live on the same campus, go to the same events, and cross paths in class. Unfortunately, a lot of college graduates move away from their college’s town when all is said and done, and sometimes the relationships go away with you.
Although I still have friends from college that I talk to, I think that having friends with similar interests makes it a lot easier to be friends as adults. Even if you find yourselves a thousand miles away from each other, you can still connect on social media or through another outlet and talk about the latest news about sports, politics, technology, or anything else of interest.
On a similar note, make sure you stay in contact with your friends and make an effort to be a part of their lives, even if you go for long periods of time without seeing each other. Relationships in general take work, and sometimes they dwindle away if no one makes the effort to keep it alive.
Other Things I Wish I Knew as a College Senior
- Knowing how to budget for student loan payments early on is a must
- College senioritis is even worse than high school senioritis
- Enjoy the local attractions of your college town – You may not get to visit them again
- Be prepared for campus construction to go on, and on, and on
- If you’re planning on going to graduate school, make sure you fulfill the prerequisites needed while you’re still in your undergraduate program
If you’ve graduated college, what things do you wish you knew as a college senior?