9 Things Every Senior Should Know Before Senior Year

Back-to-school is right around the corner, and for many of you, the inevitable final year of college is looming.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
It’s going to be OK.

Heading into your senior year well-prepared (and well-hydrated) makes all the difference, so here’s 9 things to keep in mind before you embark on the beginning of the end:

1. Check on Everything:
First things first, make a meeting with your academic advisor (yes, you have one) and make sure you have all the classes you need to graduate. If not – sign up for them immediately. Don’t wait to take your second required P.E. class until the last semester  — the classes could fill up and leave the only option available something that doesn’t fit with your academic schedule. (Or worse, it could be at 8am on a Friday.) Figure out if you have departmental requirements to fulfill. Find out when deadlines are and what the expectations are. Be aware of every step required towards you wearing your cap and gown and grabbing that diploma at the end of the year.

2. Senior Participation:
If your school has any special senior traditions or rights-of-passages, prepare for them. Do you need to decorate a special gown to wear for on-campus events? If so, get busy and decorate! Plan to participate in everything. Your hard work over the last three years has earned you this upperclassmen status, so bask in its glory!

3. Prep:
If you are planning to attend any kind of graduate school or professional program after college, set up a schedule for what needs to get done. If you are taking an exam such as the LSAT or GRE, and you haven’t started studying – figure out what you’re doing. If you’re ready to start applying to schools, ask for your letters of recommendation (while your professors still remember you/have time to write one!) and set a date to send your personal statement out. Make sure you have a schedule to stick to because once school gets going, things get crazy.

4. Leave the past behind:
If you had a huge fight with your best friend over the summer, either make-up or go your separate ways. Don’t hold onto grudges and drama from previous years – it won’t add anything to your senior year. This is your last hoorah so enjoy yourself, not the drama of college life around you.

5. Figure out what means the most to you:
For a minute, think about what makes you happy when it comes to your social life. What do you want more of during your senior year? More Thirsty Thursday parties? Plan ahead. Want to go climb that local mountain one last time with your boyfriend? Do it. Want to streak across campus? Just strip and do it. Don’t put it off – it’s the last year, so you won’t get another chance use “Whatever, I was in college” as an excuse. Create some kind of College Bucket List and hold yourself to it.

6. Expect a rollercoaster of emotions:
Senior year will be emotional, there’s no doubt about it. You will always have your ups and downs in college, but not having a safety net of returning to school next year really stirs up a lot of uncomfortable nervousness. Know that you will feel anxious and upset sometimes while you’re trying to figure things out, but don’t let it get to you too much. Cry about it if you must, but don’t dwell on it. And don’t hold it in! Be honest with your friends and family, and yourself. Everyone in your graduating class is in the same boat as you, so you won’t be alone.

7. Student Loans:
Get your crap together when it comes to student loans. If you have them, get real and realize you will have to pay them back – so keep that in mind when thinking about post-college plans. Find out how much you owe and what you need to do with your school’s financial aid department before the end of the year (you probably will need to go through an exit counseling session). Although you may want to freak out (and dive head first into a bowl of brownie batter), don’t necessarily let that get to you. Be smart. Understand your options and stay up on current student loan news. This will be something that could impact your entire life, so take it seriously.

8. Get Passionate:
Think about your passions. You may be an economics major, but if painting is what makes you happy – think about how you can carry that into your life beyond college. Explore all your interests. If you always wanted to take a yoga class, do it. Open yourself up because you definitely won’t be the same person at the end of your senior year as you were at the beginning.  This will make looking for jobs, internships, and planning for graduate school all the better. Even though you may be a journalism major, maybe you’re really into marketing – so applying to a marketing company instead of pursing a journalism graduate degree may be better for what you want in the long run. Step outside of every day plans and veer off your original course if necessary.

9. Take Advantage of All Options:
Just because your parents tell you that you must go to graduate school doesn’t mean it’s your only option. Maybe traveling for a year after college is what will suit you best, so consider it before you jump into another few years of school. Think about different places you want to live. Consider programs such as Teach for America or Ameri Corps. If college has taught you anything, it should be that you should try everything – so go into your senior year knowing the world is out there for you to figure it out, but it doesn’t have to all happen in a perfectly planned out way, so take advantage of what you can!

With all this in mind, you will surely start your year off on the right foot — leaving you lots of time to enjoy the remaining months of college to come!

The Starting Line: The Last Few Days
The Starting Line: The Last Few Days
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