Let’s face it, people always talk about how college is expensive. But few actually think about how being a super-senior is even more expensive. It’s great to live with your friends, learn new things, and participate in college clubs and sports, but all that fun is not worth the money of staying an extra year. Graduating on time is a priority for most college students, but far too many assume it will just happen. The last thing you want is to get caught off guard in your senior year with more… or less credits than you expected. As a senior in college, I have a few tricks I’ve learned over the years, and a few things I wish someone would have told me freshman year.
- Know what you want. When you start looking at colleges, you should have an idea of what you’re looking for. Do you want to graduate on time? Do you want to graduate early? Would you like to live off campus if it’s possible? How does commuting sound to you? Have a clear plan of where you want to live and how long you want to live there. Communicate that with people you encounter in the admissions process and make sure they are doing what they can to help make that possible for you. Already in college? Communicate with Registrar, Financial Aid, and your academic adviser.
2. Know what you’re dealing with. As an underclassman, I couldn’t make much sense of my degree audit. It looked like a bunch of classes, a bunch of numbers, and a bunch of things that I could deal with later. Then, as an upperclassman, I realized that if I had known sooner exactly what it took to get my degree, I might have done it
differently. After you finish reading this, pull up your degree audit and READ IT! If there’s something you don’t understand, make an appointment with your academic counselor and talk to them about it; it’s their job to help you with this stuff. Go so far as to make a plan for all four years. Your advisers usually know what the course offering will be like during your four years and can tell you what classes will be offered when.
3. Know what you can handle. Unless it’s totally necessary, don’t make plans contingent upon you being able to take on a huge amount of work and commitment. If you’re planning to graduate early, take on the added pressure little by little. If you’re hoping to cram 24 or even 18 credits into a semester, realize that you might not being able to accomplish it and make a plan B. Also, if your GPA is important to you keeping scholarships make wise decisions about how many classes you can take at once while still excelling. The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time doing work for a course and ending up with a big fat “F” (or a big fat “W”).
Finally, know what you’re dealing with. Sound familiar? That’s because I can’t stress this point enough. Your degree audit is your best friend. Though professors, registrar, and your adviser really do care about you, they deal with a lot of students every day and you can’t expect them to know your situation completely. So, know what you want, know how to accomplish it, and know your limits. These three things will get you as close as possible to a stress free four year (or less) college experience. Take it from an almost graduate.