8 Things I Wish I Knew as a College Senior

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.

Tips for college students about taking advantage of student deals, campus life, activities, studying, and more! Make sure you take advantage of these things before you graduate.

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

8 Things I Wish I Knew as a College Senior

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 Things I Wish I Knew as a College Senior

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?

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Emily
    February 3, 2015 at 8:31 am

    All great tips! So much to look back on!

  • Reply
    Simply Rachel
    February 3, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Where was this list back in my day?! 😉 I particularly like point 8! It becomes increasingly difficult to find friends as one gets older, gets married, has children & a job, etc. Friends are super important, and college seems to be the ideal time to make ‘forever’ friends!

  • Reply
    Ali
    February 3, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Internship. Internship. Internship. Gah. I can not stress this enough to all my younger cousins in college. I went to Northeastern University in Boston, where they have the Co-op (internship) program. By the time you graduate, many have at least a year and half of actual / relevant work experience on their resume. Thus really helping recent graduates secure their 1st jobs.

    Love this post. Sharing!

    • Reply
      Tori
      February 3, 2015 at 11:20 am

      Work experience is so valuable! I don’t think I could stress that enough 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Amanda Made
    February 3, 2015 at 10:36 am

    WOW! You nailed it girl! The things you talked about are really things that I wish I would have taken advantage of while in attendance! I focused more on getting out of school and trying to be an adult that I forgot to enjoy the benefits of college! What a great post!!!

    • Reply
      Tori
      February 3, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Looking back, I can’t believe on all the great things I could have taken advantage of but just didn’t. Colleges offer A LOT!

  • Reply
    Miranda @ Miranda Writes Blog
    February 3, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I definitely don’t take advantage of those discounts as much as I should!

  • Reply
    Ashley
    February 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    All these are so true! I graduated from college 2 years ago and I couldn’t agree with this list more! I went to a small liberal arts college in NC and the professors were great! I am facebook friends with a few of them so the professor part is a priority!

  • Reply
    Jess
    February 3, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    I think the part about internships is key. As far as I can tell, they make all the difference.

  • Reply
    Eric
    February 3, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    All excellent tips. An internship shows that you have the drive to get out there and make something happen. And free or cheap football tickets were absolutely awesome!!

    My biggest tip would be to have someone knowledgable help you with your resume. Too many people, especially students, fall into the trap of saying what classes they took (which happen to be the same classes that every applicant for that job took), their GPA (which has to be incredibly high to grab attention), and the inter mural sports team you were on (again, so were a lot of other applicants). Set yourself apart and a good resume conveys success. Did you do a senior project that was well received? Did you write an article that was published? Do something that is notable (especially during your senior year) and find a way to capture that success on your resume. You want your resume to answer the question, ‘Why should I hire (insert your name here) above the other candidates for this position?’ Also, research templates and fonts to find something that will grab attention while also appearing professional. Trust me, if you can pick up these skills in college, it will serve you well in life. I was fortunate that I went to college where we were required to take a class that covered this. Good luck!!

  • Reply
    Kim
    February 3, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I believe colleges should teach a class on the art of Networking cause trust me… Your interpersonal skills are much needed during this transition period for college into the working world.

  • Reply
    Pam Rote
    February 3, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    WOW great list…should be required reading for all college students =D

  • Reply
    Roselynn
    February 4, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    This would of been so great to know way back in my day. There are so many things I would of done differently. Not that things turned out badly for me, but I would of liked to be more vocal and be someone to be remembered.

  • Reply
    Brittany Bergman
    February 13, 2015 at 10:38 am

    YES, this is all so true! I didn’t realize how good I had it in college! On the subject of student loans…I took out way too much money. I wish I’d worked my way through school, paying what I could along the way, and taking loans out for the rest, rather than taking out loans for everything. They’re kicking my monthly budget right in the butt now that I’m paying them back! And keeping up with college friends is so important. The friendships you develop in college are so unlike those from any other stage of life. All my college friends live in different states, but we still chat regularly by phone and try to meet up for a girls’ trip once a year. Doesn’t even matter how much time has passed — they’re the kind of people I can just pick up with anywhere. Ahhh, college. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and letting us all reminisce!

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  • Reply
    Hannah
    June 22, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    As a rising senior in college, I am so glad that I found this post! I am definitely going to use these tips. The tip for getting work experience is one that I am already putting to use, since I was accepted to write for my school paper next year. I will say that while sports are not my thing, the games can be fun, especially because I get in free as part of my college’s marching band!

    • Reply
      Tori
      June 25, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      I’m glad you found it too, Hannah! I hope that your senior year is absolutely spectacular 🙂

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