As the end of the school year fast approaches, it’s time to start taking a look at what’s ahead. Depending upon your year (pre-college, first year, sophomore, junior or senior) you have a lot to consider. The following tips will help you think about and prepare for your next steps.
Congratulations, you have been accepted and you are on your way to college! Before you take your first step on campus, take a minute to get organized. Do you have all of the necessary paperwork (college acceptance letter, financial aid award letters, immunization shot records, housing assignment letter, transcripts, etc.)? Be mindful that your selected college might receive thousands of applications and therefore there is a great possibility that your paperwork could get lost. The way to remedy this problem is to keep your paperwork organized and accessible.
As an incoming first-year student, your first step to having a successful college experience is to get connected with your campus resources. If you are able to visit the campus before your official move in date, take the opportunity to do so. By visiting the campus before you move in, it will allow you to start the process of getting connected and staying connected as well as helping you to eliminate any issues before your move in date. Here are some of the offices I highly recommend you visit before your final move in date:
- Financial Aid
- Residence Life/Housing
- Health Services
- Your Advisor
- Your future residence hall
- Student Support Service Offices
- Student Life/Campus Activities
First Year Students
As you move toward your sophomore year, now is the time to start thinking about what your major will be. You may not know and it’s okay, however, it’s important to start taking electives that will help you determine what your major will be. Also, this is the time to start getting connected with campus resources such as service learning, career services, student life, campus activities, study aboard, tutorial services and major department—all of these will give a more enriching college experience as well as clues to your career field.
Now that you have survived the sophomore slump, it’s time to decide on what you plan to do next. For starters, if you haven’t yet declared a major, this would be a good time to do so. If you still need time, consider summer school, a summer job in a field of interest, or the first half of your junior year. While I don’t believe in picking a major for the sake of choosing, it’s important to remember that college graduation is the key. In other words, you may never find a job in your declared major, but having a college degree will open up more doors then just having college credits. Furthermore, as a sophomore you will need to start being more intentional about internships. The more intentional you are the more clarity you will have regarding intended major as well as career choice.
You are so close to graduation you can see it. As you rapidly approach that big day, there are still some loose ends that you must tie up. First, have you visited career services and taken advantage of their services (mock interviews, resume writing workshops, job database)? No matter what you decide upon, this is a good place to acquire tools that will help you land a job upon graduation. Second, maybe getting a job after college doesn’t interest you. If not, have you started thinking about the possibility of graduate school, professional school, serving in the military, volunteering in the peace corps or some other alternative? If you start weighing your options now it will give you time to take the necessary tests, acquire recommendations and raise your GPA so that you can be in a more favorable position.
You have fought the good fight and now it’s time to enter into the gates of the real world. Before you get your tassel, consider these points.
As you attempt to make a smooth transition from undergraduate to college graduate, you will need to consider the interim. Where do you plan to live upon graduation? How do you plan to provide for yourself during this time? Do you have a backup plan? If you do have a place to stay and a way to provide for yourself, how will you make the most of your time?
Now that you have finished school, what’s your next major goal? And what’s the time-line for achieving this major goal?
I know, you just finished and you want some time to rest on your laurels. Sure that’s fine, but just remember if you are not striving you are sliding. It’s time to begin a new phase of your life whether you like it or not. That’s apart of change and progress. Change has a way of inviting itself into each person’s daily life. The best way to deal with it is to accept it, embrace it and prepare for it in the best way you can.
Tawan Perry is the creator of the comprehensive Connect-5 College Completion Program. As a college speaker and as both a former student leader and college administrator, Tawan uses the Connect-5 College Completion program to help guide students step by step from college prep to cap and gown.