Advice from a College Senior

By Amanda Hill
Blog Content Contributor

I will be the first to admit as a senior that your college experience will be a huge milestone in your life. The people you will meet and experience you will have will be incomparable to any other chapter in your life.

Every senior will accumulate a list of things they wish they could do differently through their journey in college. Not being wrapped up in a relationship, being more involved on campus and taking their course work more seriously are among the few. Before the semester starts, whether you are a freshman or senior, it would be beneficial to list some things you hope to gain from the semester or year. It is up to you to determine how many bullet points to list and the challenge level of your goals, as long as you feel your goals are achievable. Setting goals you are certain you can achieve, among the other pressures of being a student, will keep you motivated to achieve that goal.

For some of us, setting goals can be a challenge. It is not easy to determine what you can achieve outside the realm of your normal activities. I have listed potential goals for each status level in college. Each of these goals ensure success by keeping in mind the big picture of becoming a successful professional and achieving your career dream.

Freshman

I cannot stress enough the importance of being involved. Meeting people and gaining experience that can build your resume is a critical success factor. Being involved ensures the opportunity to gain the most from what college has to offer.

Many student organizations will try and recruit new members on the Quad. Photo by Amanda Hill.
Many student organizations will try and recruit new members on the Quad. Photo by Amanda Hill.

What is your major? This is the first question to ask yourself when deciding what clubs and organizations to become apart of. It is important to remember that you are being introduced to the demands of a college student, so do not try to over load your schedule. As a freshman starting your first semester, I would not try to joining more than 2-3 organizations your first semester. It is more beneficial to have the time to contribute fully to the organizations and develop deep relationships and experiences than to be half involved.

I get it, most freshman are asking the question of “what do I want to do for the rest of my life?” Joining clubs and organizations is a great way to explore what you enjoy doing. Sororities and fraternities are a great example of organizations that are relevant to a broad range of interests. You have the opportunity to develop strong relationships, become a leader and take part in major events happening around the university. I once read that people a part of a sorority or fraternity in college are more likely to become an entrepreneur later in life. If leadership is something you enjoy, don’t hesitate to start here.

Sophomores

As a sophomore, you are more likely to be established in your relationships and involvement. If you were not focused on being involved as a freshman, it is still only the beginning. Make an effort to join organizations that appeal to your interests. Take a look at the “freshman” section for more information.

For those already involved, this is your time to shine and apply for officer positions. Try to pick a positions that relate to the tasks of future job positions you hope to pursue to gain relevant experience. Performing in leadership positions sounds great to employers and will build your confidence.

Beyond just school, it is time to start thinking about what you want to achieve as a career. This is important so you can be aware of what upper-level classes you need to take in your junior and senior year and what opportunities to take advantage of. My personal experience as a senior applying for my dream job: internship experience is among the most asked about opportunity from employers. Employers are interested in applicants that are experienced in applying what they learned in school to the professional world. Start researching the types of internships that will apply to the position you want as a new graduate. If you already have an idea about what you wish to pursue then I would start applying to interview for an internship this upcoming summer. The sooner you start this process and the more internships you are apart of, the easier it will be to acquire a job before you graduate.

If you are uncertain what interests you for a career, start listing what you enjoy spending your time doing and what classes strike an interest for you. The more research you do and the sooner you do it, the more prepared you will become entering your upper-level years in college. Start applying as soon as possible for internships the summer of your junior year.

Juniors

Ok, now it’s crunch time. At this point, you should already be a part of many organizations and considering upper level officer positions. For transfer student, look to my freshman sections for more information on how to become involved at Texas State. This fall semester you need to start preparing for internships this upcoming summer.

Seniors

Photo via Texas State flickr.
Photo via Texas State flickr.

You made it! You just need to keep motivated to get through these last two semesters to cross the finish line. An ideal position for any senior would be to have multiple internships listed on your resume, president of an organization and a healthy GPA. This is achievable for those that work hard and take each year of college seriously.

For others of us, life happens. Things get in the way and we become exhausted. Good news, you’re not done yet! For those who are falling being on the key elements to become a successful graduate, there are alternatives for you.

If your GPA is not up to par, raising it needs to become your prime focus. You do not need the pressures of a bad GPA disqualifying you from certain opportunities. There are so many resources available to help you raise your GPA. Do some research and ask around to determine the best solution for you.

For job seekers hoping to land a job before graduation, it is time to brand yourself as a professional. Differentiation is key to standing out to employers. It is up to you to determine what your key strengths are as an individual and the experiences that are relevant to the professional world. Internships, relevant job experience, personal projects and an outstanding GPA are among the few. You need to prepare your job search accessories (cover letter, resume, portfolio) in a way that drills your strengths in the minds of recruiters. Focus on one or two skills to excel at and apply to the positions where those skills play an important role. If you are unsure what your key strength is, you need to the first semester of this year to discover and develop it. Again, do your research relevant to your situation and get started.

Overall, keep focused on your course work because GPA plays a factor in your eligibility for these positions. It is easy to lose motivation once your schedule picks up pace, but the outcome of your experience will outweigh the struggles. The relationships you will build, experiences you will live, and things you will learn will develop you as an individual and change your life.

By this point you’re probably thinking I’m crazy. Work, work, work may seem like the only thing that is important to me. It is very important because that is the only way to consistently develop yourself, but I do realize it’s just as important to have fun while you’re here. Clearing your brain and staying refreshed ensures great productivity and a happy attitude. As long as you remember your top priorities to become a successful college graduate with no regrets, your college experience will be amazing. With that said, good luck and have a great semester!

Holly Henrichsen

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