The sheer number of tasks to complete before graduation can be overwhelming for a lot of students. As a result, many students run the risk of allowing important tasks to fall by the wayside. This could cause to headaches right before or immediately following graduation. Below is a streamlined to-do list you can refer to as your graduation date edges closer.
- Finalize all undergraduate program details: This may seem like a no-brainer to most, but not ensuring every requirement of an undergraduate program has been met prior to graduation could lead to big problems. In the fall semester before your graduation, you should commit some time to meeting with a counselor to review your transcript. He or she should be able to confirm you have earned a sufficient credits to graduate from both your major department and the college itself. This is also a great time to review and sign any necessary paperwork required for graduation.
- Conduct and exit interview with the financial aid office: Far too many students end up finishing college without an inkling of how much they owe in student loans. In fact, some may not even realize they need to start making payments shortly after graduation. In order to not be blindsided by your financial aid obligations, be sure to visit the school’s financial aid office and review your payment plan. Not staying on top of this important financial information could spell disaster later on down the road.
- Network with professors and the student career center: Securing post-college employment in today’s job market can be a challenge. Now more than ever, networking with experts in your field is crucial for finding a job or career that makes sense for you. A big mistake many graduating students make is not taking advantage of the invaluable resources available at their college career center. In addition to great job leads, students can gain helpful, and often personalized, advice from their career counselors.
- Secure letters of recommendation: This is a big one, especially if you plan to apply for graduate school. Typically, most advanced programs require at least three letters of recommendations from people who are familiar with your academic and professional background. Even employers are beginning to request such letters from potential employees, or references at the very least. The best time to collect these letters is before graduation when professors and faculty are still familiar with you and your work.
- Register with your alumni network: While it might seem like an open invitation to junk mail for the rest of your life, signing up for your alumni network could be one of the greatest networking decisions you’ll ever make. Students often forego this valuable opportunity and lose out on years and years of connecting with fellow graduates who may be able to help you with your career path down the road.
- Submit your forwarding address: Making sure the campus mail office has your correct address is a very important detail that is often overlooked. Without your contact information, the school will not be able to notify you regarding your transcripts, student loan payments, or other matters that may crop up post-graduation. Also be sure to check if your alumni office needs an updated address.
- Clear your financial obligations: The period leading up to graduation is an excellent time to consult with your registrar’s office regarding any outstanding financial obligations. In many cases, students aren’t aware of some of the charges they have incurred since enrollment. Checking on these now will help you avoid any surprise bills in the mail (which won’t get “lost in the mail” if you checked off the previous step).
- Obtain transcripts: Even though you should be able to order these after you graduate, keep in mind that when students need transcripts, they usually need them in a hurry. Not only can transcripts ordered online take weeks to arrive, but they can often be expensive if you need them in a pinch. Save yourself the time and hassle by ordering up to 10 copies before you leave campus permanently.
- Write “Thank You” notes: These notes can mean a lot to someone, especially professors and classmates with whom you hope to maintain a relationship following graduation. Take a moment to reflect on the exceptional faculty members and students who were essential to your success as a college student and send them a brief note or card expressing your gratitude.
- Exchange contact info with friends: As you head off into the real world following graduation, the last group of people you’ll want to forget are the great friends you’ve made during your college years. Many of the people you’ll meet as a student may come from different states, or even different countries. So be sure to exchange contact information with them prior to graduation so you can keep in touch with them for many more years to come.
Graduating from college is something you should both celebrate and be proud of, but keep in mind that not adequately preparing for graduation could lead to trouble down the road. In the weeks ahead, put aside some time to review this to-do list and take all the necessary steps to ensure your graduation goes off without a hitch. With your degree in hand and the comfort of knowing you’ve gotten the most out of your college experience, you’ll be well-prepared to take on the brand new world that awaits you.