Ah, senior year of college: Now is the time to revel in your collegiate accomplishments and wrap up any academic loose ends. After all, come spring, you’ll be in a completely different environment.
While this is an exciting year, it’s certainly not the time to slack off; in fact, you’ll probably be working harder than ever to get all your post-grad preparations in order. But even though you’re focused on what lies ahead, your status as a college student is still at your disposal, which means that you need to make the most of the time you have left; once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. So, without further ado, here is a list of seven things you need to do to make the most of your senior year.
They say landing the perfect job is all about who you know. While there’s certainly more to it than that, establishing connections can’t hurt when you’re trying to get your foot in the door after college. Chances are that your professors have some contacts in their field, so take advantage of their office hours or even invite them out for coffee. At the very least, you’ll gain a professional reference to add to your resume.
If your professors don’t have the help you’re looking for, your classmates are another great resource for networking. They might have interned at your dream job, or perhaps they’re a friend of a friend of someone, which can get you moving in the right direction.
The most important thing is to do it before graduation; these ever-important relationships are not built as easily when you don’t see each other every day.
2. Visit the Career Center
Your university’s career center is an often-untapped resource, and it’s there to ready you for the professional world. Here, you can workshop your resume, apply for an internship or find out where the next job fair is being held. The career center exists solely to help students navigate their career paths, which may seem like an obvious statement — if it weren’t for the fact that students rarely utilize these services. One study from 2017 found that fewer than 20% of undergrads reach out to their career center for help with job searches or graduate programs.
There is less of a time crunch with this one, though; many colleges allow alumni to use their career services well after graduation, which is often when they need the most help. But whether you visit the career center during your senior year, or any time afterward, just make sure that you do. The staff literally gets paid to help you find a job, so you might as well make them work for it.
3. Go to That Party
With all that’s going on right now — applying for graduation, moving out, searching for jobs — you might neglect to realize that this is your senior year of college, which means that it’s the last year of socially-acceptable partying. Maybe you hit them all as an underclassman, or perhaps you never partied at all; either way, social events are a great opportunity to mingle and meet new friends, as well as a way to forget the stressors of life for a few hours. Once you enter the working world, big group get-togethers are harder to come by, new (non-work) friends are less abundant and, let’s face it: you might just be too tired for an all-night rager once you’re out of college.
Senior year: the time where you meet people two months before you graduate you wish you'd met two years ago
— College Student (@ColIegeStudent) May 2, 2016
So, in between everything else you have going on, take a moment for one last hurrah, and stop by a party.
4. Use your Student Discount
Still taking advantage of that sweet Spotify student discount, or ordering goods from Unidays? Savor it now; as soon as your degree arrives in the mail, you are no longer eligible for the student rate. Maybe you think you won’t need a discount once you’ve landed that perfect job, but those student loan payments looming in the distance say otherwise. The moral of the story: Use that student discount while you still can.
Amazon and Apple offer reduced Prime rates and education pricing, respectively, so it might be smart to purchase as many high-priced necessities as your wallet can handle. Other companies, like Sam’s Club, Burger King and Jiffy Lube offer discounts with a valid college ID. Drink up the savings while there’s still time.
5. Study Abroad
If you can fit it in with your class schedule, try to do a semester abroad. Not only is studying in another country an unforgettable experience, but it will help you develop important skills (and it will look great on a resume).
Employers love to see that you took a semester abroad on job applications, and for good reason. Not only does it show your ability to adapt to new situations but, if you travelled to a non-English speaking country, it also shows that you have some serious language skills to flaunt.
It’s not going to be cheap, but study abroad programs are a great value when you look at what is being provided. For example, a semester in England ranges from $7,300 to $8,000 in tuition — a steal, compared to the average yearly cost of American colleges ($23,000). And it’s certainly cheaper than your run-of-the-mill holiday travel, so why not kill two birds with one reasonably-priced stone? Explore the world, and gain credit hours to boot.
6. Spend Quality Time with Friends
Right now, you might take for granted all the people who live down the hall, or think nothing of the classmates you see every day; however, once your senior year is over, those friendships are no longer a given. Sure, you can make plans to see each other, but who knows where everyone is moving off to? When’s the next time you will all be together? Maintaining those relationships becomes much harder after college, so savor it, and appreciate how easy it is right now.
7. Put Yourself Out There
College campuses are always hosting events of some form or another, and your senior year is a great time to finally attend and participate in anything you’ve missed. Whether it’s an open mic night, a poetry slam, karaoke or some other cliché event, allow yourself to tap into your creative side. Even if it’s your first time, this audience will be much more forgiving than those in the real world. If nothing else, you might learn something new about yourself — like how much you hate putting yourself out there.