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College Seniors: Are You Ready for Graduation? Here's 7 Things to Focus on Now Through March

Well, hello, college seniors and my proactive juniors reading this. Shout out to you for tuning in. I see you!


So, let's jump right into it. With February ending, it's time to start thinking about life after college. The cool thing is that you don't have to do this solo. I'm here to help you prepare, think through, and create future plans. 


My goal is to reduce as much stress as possible because, honestly, this time can be very overwhelming. I totally get it! I can't tell you how many seniors I've met and talked with who waited until the last minute to begin thinking about life after graduation. Please don't let this be you.


You can NOT afford to plan for life after graduation the day before. Planning takes time.

Waiting till the eleventh hour and flying by the seat of your trousers will certainly lead to anxiety and stress. So let's have a proactive conversation. Shall we? 


As the academic year comes to a close, many college seniors find themselves at a crossroads in their educational journeys.


With graduation approaching, students must begin thinking about and preparing for life after college (like yesterday) to ensure they are ready for the transition ahead. 


In this short piece, we'll look at seven important areas that college seniors should work on before the end of March. 


From finishing graduation requirements to preparing for the job market, let's talk through key areas to support you in navigating this exciting yet challenging time with confidence and clarity. 


Whether you're counting down the days before graduation or feeling overwhelmed by the thought of life after college, these 7 points will help you make the most of your last months as a student (if you're not planning on grad school). 


Job Searching: Now is the absolute perfect time to start your job search and career preparations before graduation. You can’t afford to wait until May, or a week before graduation, to begin looking for a job. Not only is this a process that may take a few months (to find a mutually beneficial fit), but you also want to proactively be ahead of the curve.


Start applying now and use this time to fine-tune your resume, practice interview skills, and research job opportunities in your field while being open to jobs outside of your field to gain experience. Be honest and open with all potential employers about your school status. Attend career fairs, networking events, and informational interviews to explore different career paths and connect with decision-makers. 


Graduate School Applications: If you're considering pursuing further education, use the rest of February to research programs. Think about this time, four years ago, when you first began applying to college. The process is similar, especially if you’re planning to attend graduate school in the fall and for those of you in fields that require additional schooling, like doctors and lawyers. 


Use the rest of February and March to prepare all your application materials, create a LinkedIn profile, beef up your resume, ask for recommendation letters, and double-check all submission requirements before submitting your applications before their deadlines. Also, think about whether you can see yourself living or working in the locations you're applying to.


Senior Thesis or Capstone Projects: Your senior year of college may require a final big project, depending on your field. If you're not sure, check with your advisor and review your syllabus and graduate plan. 


If you have a thesis or capstone, you'll want to dedicate time to this and any other final projects (strategically). You can not afford to cram or wing a final project. Set aside time for making measurable progress on this. Break down each task into manageable chunks, set deadlines, and seek guidance from professors or advisors as needed.


Graduation Plans: Because you'll already be balancing potential graduate school applications, finals, theses, and job hunting, you'll need to be as organized as possible this semester to help reduce anxiety. Find out your school's graduation application deadline, add it to your calendar, and be sure to submit your applications on time. 


Don't forget about any fees, financial aid flags, or balances. Proactively keep an eye on these, as you’ll need to be cleared financially beforehand in order to participate in ceremonies. Be sure to order your cap and gown on time! If you have a large family or family out of town, send out save the dates for your ceremony to give people time to travel, take off, and prepare to support you.


Post-Graduation Goals: Perhaps you're unsure what's after graduation. This is normal. Don’t beat yourself up. At the same time, you still need to give it some thought.


Think about your graduation plans and post-graduation goals. You can start the planning process by considering these goals, whether pursuing further education, entering the workforce, or taking a gap year. Do some soul-searching and be honest with yourself. Explore different graduate school programs, job opportunities, and alternative paths that align with your interests and aspirations. Remember: just because you're exploring different options doesn't mean you have to commit right away or at all, but having something in mind is always helpful. 

This time in your life is about embracing independence. Carefully consider how your decisions may impact your parents or loved ones. Set a couple of SMART goals and work toward them. You don't want to be that 30-year-old still at home because you were lazy and not proactive. Plan to set the future YOU up for independence and success.

Networking: Networking is a critical component of life after graduation. I'm not talking about transactional "networking" (asking for favors) either. I'm referring to building relationships and strategic networks. You can do this first by identifying the value that you add (please know your value without a shadow of doubt) and sharing it with others. 


Strategic networking is also about serving, supporting, and showing up for others while connecting with those with similar trajectories. 


You'll want to expand your professional network by attending networking events (where you meet, talk to, and engage with people). After graduation, consider joining your alumni association as well. Connect with professionals in your field and build relationships that could lead to future job opportunities and mutually rewarding relationships.


Financial Planning: Financial planning and student loan management are things you should be thinking about now. Take inventory of your financial situation. How much (if any) student loan debt will you have after graduation? Knowing this helps to develop a plan to manage loan debt, if applicable.


Think about where you will live and what some of your post-graduation expenses will be. Are you applying for jobs with a salary high enough to better support your transition into the real world? Research repayment options, loan forgiveness programs, and strategies for budgeting and saving money post-graduation. Consider meeting with a financial advisor for personalized guidance and support, and be sure to use your career services center on campus to help with resources. 


You paid for this in your tuition! IJS.


Now that you're more equipped for life after graduation, you just need to lock in on each area. Use all the resources you can access, and ask for help when needed. This journey is exciting and challenging, but it will be rewarding when done effectively and strategically. Remember, each aspect we covered plays a crucial role in shaping your transition from student life to the next chapter.


As you reflect on these seven areas, remember that graduation preparation extends beyond just completing courses. It takes a comprehensive strategy that considers your academic, career, and personal development. By taking proactive actions to address these critical areas, you will not only set yourself up for success but will also be able to begin your post-graduation adventure confidently and clearly.


For additional support and resources, including step-by-step college graduation prep and post-college coaching, interviewing, and job-searching tips, do the following:


2. Join our mailing list at blackgirlcollegeprep.com

3. Follow us on social media and our LinkedIn page @blackgirlcollegeprep


You got this!


Xo, 

Coach Rahk

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