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I recently applied for graduation in December, which is often considered an unusual time to graduate. Graduating in the fall semester instead of spring semester can be challenging. Many of your friends will not be graduating at the same time as you, and employers may not be currently looking for recent college graduates, not to mention the daunting fact that you’re graduating and moving on from a chapter in your life. However, if you start preparing now for your impending graduation with some of these tips, I guarantee you’ll feel more secure and ready to graduate.
1. Figure out your living situation.
Do you still have a lease that ends in May or the summer? Are you moving back home right after you graduate? Or, do you want to move somewhere else altogether? These are important questions that you need to answer soon. If you still have a lease, but you plan on moving back home, make sure you communicate with your roommates about your plan. Then, search for someone to take over your lease so you don’t leave your roommates hanging.
Side-note, moving back home is not a sign of failure. There are many benefits to moving back home right after graduation. You can get settled in your post-undergraduate life and look for jobs more leisurely without the stress of worrying about paying rent. Also, your parents and/or family probably miss you – this can be a good time to spend time with family after you’ve lived at school for a while!
2. Make sure your resume is up-to-date.
A good, one-page resume is vital to securing the job you want. They can seem daunting to make, but keep in mind that there are plenty of great templates you can use. Microsoft Word, Google Docs and other websites offer a variety of free templates for a sleek, professional resume.
As for what you should include on a resume, there are a few important things. Make sure you include contact information, education, skills, relevant work experience and references. Some jobs may prefer that you add additional information, such as certain certifications (for example, CPR training). When in doubt, check the job listing to see if such extras are required.
3. Start looking for employment.
Searching for jobs before graduating is crucial. Many employers looking for recent college graduates are understanding that you are in school still; be sure to add to your resume that you expect to graduate in December and not that you’re already graduated!
There are a variety of websites to use to look for employment. Indeed is a favorite of mine, as you can often apply with just the resume you upload to the website. They also have a variety of filters. For instance, if you know you want to work back home, you can list your home city and search for applicable jobs there. You can also directly insert the education level you have and your degree, and employers searching for employees with those qualifications appear by relevancy. There are plenty of other websites in addition to Indeed, such as Gglassdoor and CareerBuilder. Find the one you like best, or use all three, and apply to as many jobs as interest you!
4. Thinking about graduate school? Get started on applications!
The best time to begin applying to graduate schools is now. Research programs you’re interested in and their requirements. Many similar programs may have vastly different requirements. I recommend making a spreadsheet or document detailing what each school is looking for, including number of references, GRE scores (if applicable), due dates for materials, application fee and personal statement information.
From there, start working on your personal statement and asking for references. Give professors or employers at least two weeks to a month to write their recommendation, and make sure you’re asking someone who knows you well in a professional and/or academic setting.
Remember: you did something similar to this before. (You applied to this college!) Graduate school can be daunting, but you have some experience under your belt.
5. Appreciate how far you’ve come.
You have a lot ahead of you: starting a career, applying to graduate school or perhaps just figuring out what you want to do with your post-college life. Try to take moments to congratulate yourself – you’re incredibly close to obtaining a bachelor’s degree. It’s easy to forget that this is a prestigious thing to do – only 33% of Americans have obtained a bachelor’s degree.
Plus, you’re starting a new chapter in your life. It can be scary, as you’ve gotten used to college life, but there are many exciting opportunities ahead of you. Take a moment to appreciate this chapter, reflect on your experience and look toward the future.
With these tips, I have no doubt you’ll graduate with less stress and more excitement for the future. Congratulations on coming this far, and good luck in your post-undergraduate endeavors!
Ashley Martindale is a fourth-year student majoring in psychology with a minor in Spanish. AM872890@wcupa.edu