Preparing For Your Student's Transition Out Of College
by Vicki Nelson, College Parents of America
It probably seems like only yesterday that you and your college student were worrying about Freshman Orientation, Move-in Day, understanding the world of college, and getting started in the right direction. Now your college student is approaching the end of his college career. Hopefully, you’ve watched him grow and blossom throughout his college years, and he’s now managing more on his own. However, you likely still worry at times, and wonder how he will fare in his new transition to come.
Although for many seniors graduation still seems a long way off, there are some important things that your student can and should do in the fall to prepare for a successful finale in the spring. It may be helpful for you to have some conversations with your senior now to help her get on track. Here are some things that you might suggest to your student.
- Look carefully at all college requirements for graduation. Remember that the ultimate responsibility for completing all requirements lies with your student, not with the advisor, the department, or the college. Your student is responsible for knowing requirements (usually articulated clearly in the college catalogue) and for knowing whether he has completed them. How many credits are required? What general education or all college required courses are necessary? Is there a required minimum GPA? What departmental requirements are there? Is an internship or field experience required? Is there a capstone course or senior seminar? Hopefully, your student has been watching these requirements all along, but now is the time that your student should ask for (or find online) a copy of his transcript and examine it in light of all college requirements.
- Your student should request a degree audit if the college provides one. A degree audit will help your student see what he has left to complete. Obviously, he’ll want to know what he still needs to do before he registers for his final semester’s classes so that he can make appropriate choices.
- Your student should check to see whether he needs to complete paperwork to prepare to graduate. Some schools require an “Intent to Graduate” or similar form.
- Your student should work at updating his resume to be ready for any opportunities that might arise.
- If your student is planning to continue on to graduate school, she should determine whether she needs to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or other tests.
- Your student should double check any graduate school application deadlines.
- Fall is a good time to ask some faculty members for letters of recommendation. They may be swamped with requests in the spring, but may have time for a more thoughtful letter this fall.
- Your student might begin looking now for an internship opportunity in the spring semester. Many more companies are looking for internship experiences in the candidates that they hire.
- Your student should meet with someone in the Career Office. They can offer advice on resume, interviewing, job searching techniques, internships. This office, too, will be busier in the spring. Take advantage of them now.
- Your student might set up some informational interviews to begin to find out more about her field of interest.
- Attend on-campus events, workshops, and/or career fairs. Talk to presenters. Make connections. College business cards. These may be useful contacts later.
- Begin looking for a job now. Don’t wait until spring. Get a head start on others.
- Use the final semester for leadership opportunities. Find ways to contribute to the campus. Find ways to leave a mark. Make the college a better place.
- Your student might consider a senior project, thesis, or independent study for spring. Even if this isn’t required, he may want to take advantage of working with an outstanding faculty member in his field while he is still at the school.
- If you haven’t already done so, ask your student to help you find lodging for commencement weekend. Don’t wait any longer. Local accommodations usually fill early.
- Check now to see if there are any outstanding financial issues. Don’t wait until late in the spring semester to find out that there are still charges due.
- Your student might take some time now to look carefully at his Facebook page or other social media. Is the impression there one that he wants a potential employer to see? Employers do check. Now is a good time to do some possible Facebook housecleaning.
- Ask your student if she has a dream class that she’s never gotten around to taking. This may be her last chance to try something new and adventurous.
A bit of extra time and effort spent in the fall semester can make the spring semester much less stressful.