The Final Countdown: What to Do in Your Last Year of College 


The time just before graduating from college can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. If you went to college just out of high school, the past several years has probably been the most intense of your life so far. Now it is time to take the final step into independence, but what do you need to do to get ready? The tips below can help you prepare. 

Choose Your Path 

If you’ve been putting off a decision, it’s time now to choose whether you will look for a job or go on to graduate school or a professional program, such as law school. If you are considering graduate school, be honest about the reasons. Some people drift into graduate school because they are anxious about starting in the real world and know that they are good at school. This not only delays the inevitable but could mean putting a lot of time, energy and money toward something you aren’t even particularly interested in. You should also keep in mind that some programs, such as MBAs, prefer you to have at least a couple of years of work experience. 

Make a Budget 

If you’ve already accepted a job and know where you’re going to be living and what your salary will be, you’re ahead of the game, but even if you haven’t, you should still start looking at a budget. What will you need for rent, utilities and other necessities? Be sure to include your student loan repayments. If you have borrowed money from multiple lenders, you might want to research student loan consolidation. With a consolidation, you only have to make a single payment monthly instead of trying to keep up with several different due dates and various interest rates. You might even want to consider paying a visit to a financial professional to talk about how to start organizing your post-college life, including saving toward an emergency fund and putting away money for retirement. 

Work on Your Online Presence 

Although it won’t be relevant in every field, in some areas, it can help you a lot to have an engaged group of followers on social media. At minimum, you should tidy up your online profiles and perhaps even consider starting fresh with new ones. Delete anything that is potentially embarrassing from an employer’s point of view, and start seeking out professionals in your field to follow and connect with. 

Remember the Details 

In the years to come, when you have that recurring nightmare that nearly everyone does about having to take a test you forgot to study for, you want to make sure that it’s purely fantasy and not based on a real-life mistake. Don’t jeopardize your graduation date by forgetting details you need to take care of before you leave, whether that detail is a required class, a fee you need to pay or paperwork you need to turn in by a certain deadline. If you need to, meet with your advisor to go over everything to ensure it’s all been done.