Student Life

Complete This Bucket List Before College Graduation

Elizabeth Hoyt

April 17, 2018

Complete This Bucket List Before College Graduation
Whether you're graduating and moving on into the "real" world or moving on to a grad program, this list will help you gain a head start in your new life.
Whether you’re graduating and moving on into the “real” world or moving on to a grad program, this list will help you get a head start in your new life. Either scenario will be filled with new beginnings and lifestyle changes, some you’ll be ready to tackle and some you’ll simply need to get used to along the way. But, with some simple preparation and well thought-out planning, you can make your transition that much easier.
Sure, it’s tempting to fly by the seat of your pants. While you don’t need to obsess over what’s ahead or plan your future down to every little detail, it does help to think things through with some slight preparation. Additionally, you should savor moments right now. That’s exactly why we certainly don’t recommend the obsessing over every little detail. A good balance is the right, healthy balance. Here are some items to put on your bucket list right now to accomplish before graduation so you can both appreciate the moments you have left and prepare for what’s ahead, post-graduation, whether you're going:
• To Get a Job
• To Graduate School

If You’re Going to Get a Job After Graduation...

1. Save Money
Whether you have your first job lined up or are still in pursuit of career options, it’s good to have a nest egg to fall back on. Upon graduation, you don’t want to have to rely on your family for money (if that’s an option), any funding you get from graduation gifts (who knows how much that will be) or a minimum wage job (which may not even be enough to get you by). Do yourself a favor and start saving now so that any of the above options aren't your only options.
2. Delight in Student Life While You Still Can
It may not seem like it now, but your life is luxurious. Yes, your life is luxurious. You’ve got a lot of free time, you can hang out with friends and, you may even have a little money in your bank account (which you should start saving). Enjoy this life of leisure while you can and make as many memories as possible! Soon, things won’t be so simple and life won’t be quite so easy. Take the time to relish this lifestyle which you have it because, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
3. Reach Out to Your Professors for Networking Opportunities
The professors within your major likely have contacts within the field you’re going to be pursuing a job in. Talk to them about any potential contacts they may have – not to give you a job but to talk to for information regarding the field and potential networking opportunities. This works best with professors you have existing, positive relationships with, who are more than happy to help out students they have mentored.
4. Take Pleasure in Sleep
In the “real” world, you’re going to have to adapt to a strict schedule, which includes waking up at a decent hour (usually long before 9 AM) and working at least eight hours. Then, you’ll return home from work, make dinner, run errands (because that’s the only time to get things accomplished, other than weekends) or workout (unless you woke up even earlier than necessary) and go to bed. Then, you’ll get up early, doing it all over again. The point is, sleep is a necessity and you’ll get sleep while in the “real” world, but only as much as you need. Sleep is no longer leisurely and it’s no longer relaxing. Get some lazy, relaxing sleep while you still can. Take naps, stay in bed for no good reason and sleep in while you still can. You’re definitely going to miss that aspect of student life!
5. Spend Time with Friends
Once your friends obtain jobs in different parts of the country (or, even, world) it’s going to be difficult to keep in touch with them. If you want to remain friends and put in the effort, you will and you’ll always have great places to visit, but it’s not going to be the same as it was when you were on the same campus. Spend time as much together while you still can because you’re going to miss the random pop-ins and impromptu hang-outs. You’ll always be friends (as long as you want to be), it will just become very different.

If You're Going to Graduate School After Graduation...

1. Save Money
It’s going to be difficult to work and attend graduate school at the same time. And, while it’s not entirely impossible, you will be stretched thin if you do so. Start saving as much money as possible now so that you will have money later to use on things you need to survive. That way, you will not have to rely on student loans for everything, which can rack up an obscene amount of student debt.
2. Appreciate Student Life as an Undergrad
It may not seem like it now, but your life is luxurious. You’ve got a lot of free time, you can hang out with friends and even a little money in your bank account. Enjoy this life of leisure while you can and make as many memories as possible! Soon, things won’t be so simple and life won’t be quite so easy. It will all be worth it, but these memories will help get you through the though times.
3. Contact Professors for Potential Research Opportunities
Your relationships with your current professors can make the different between a great research opportunity and a not-so-great one. Reach out to them and show your interest in their research. Also, many of them have contacts on admissions boards of graduate departments, which can seriously make a different in your admittance to certain programs. Use your relationships to your advantage – now is the time to do so.
4. Talk to Current Graduate Students About Their Experiences
If you’re unsure of what’s in store, get in touch with current graduate students within the program you’re pursuing. Students are the most likely to be open and honest about their experiences, as well as the best research opportunities to pursue. Try to get guidance right from the best sources: your peers.
5. Binge on Your Favorite Shows, Movies, Etc.
You simply won’t have time for this in grad school. Take the time to have a little lazy leisure time while you still can.
6. Sleep. A Lot.
In graduate school, sleep is a commodity that can be difficult to come by. So, sleep while you can. Enjoy it. Savor it. Take catnaps in the afternoon. And remember this time, because it’s going to go away for a while and you’re definitely going to miss it.
7. Read – or Don’t
If you actually enjoy reading, know that you won’t be reading things you enjoy for quite a while. So read up on your favorites. If you do not enjoy reading, know that you’ll be reading quite a bit of material for the foreseeable future that you may not necessarily enjoy, so you may want to give reading a rest.
8. Ponder Your Potential Thesis/Dissertation Topics
This many seem like you’re putting the cart before the horse, but it’s never too early to think about topics you may be interested in. This is going to be the focus of your entire project, which is essentially a novel, so talking to your adviser sooner rather than later is, well, advised.
9. Spend Time with Friends
Whether your friends are also going to graduate school or are obtaining jobs around the country (or world), things won't be the same ever again. Firstly, you're not going to have much time while you're in graduate school and they are going to have to be understanding of that. Luckily, those that are going to be attending graduate school will understand, but it will take a toll on your friendship. Those that will be taking jobs will likely move to different areas and that will also change your friendships in different ways. You will have to make effort to stay in touch, which will be difficult, especially on your part with many time constraints. As long as you communicate this, you will be fine. Right now, however, is the perfect time to make the most of the free time you have left to strengthen your friendship bonds and talk to them about how life will change for you. Spend as much time with your close friends as you're able and value the time you have left together until graduation, making invaluable memories along the way!

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