5 Things to Know About Your Senior Year

Your senior year of college is special on several fronts.

First, it’s your last year of undergraduate school! Unless of course, you’re taking a few extra credits, and it will take you a semester or two longer to graduate. But, hey, either way, this is an immense accomplishment!

Secondly, you’re right on the brink of a major life transition and the rest of your life is suddenly right before you. College is a really safe place to learn and grow, and the decisions you make during your senior year can play a big part in the steps you take after you graduate.

Whether you’re feeling excited or stressed about your senior year, there are a few things to consider as you make your way through it.

1. You don’t have to do it all

During your senior year, it can be really easy to slip into the mode of taking on everything that comes your way. After all, it’s your last year of college, so you should take advantage of all these opportunities before it’s too late, right? Wrong! Yes, there will be plenty of opportunities that come your way—maybe things work out with an internship you have, you make a really important connection, or your professor offers you a unique position working on a special project.

When great things do come your direction, it’s really important to take some time to think deeply about what taking on more commitments will look like in your daily life. Your mental and emotional health are important, and sometimes, depending on what you already have on your plate, it’s a far healthier and more mature choice to decline certain opportunities. On the flip side, if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of moment and it lines up with what you value and need for your post-graduate life, you might want to say yes. Either way, there’s no shame in taking time to think through your decision, and there is nothing wrong with declining if necessary.

2. Your plans might shift

Throughout your college career, you’ve more than likely had at least a hazy idea about what you want to do once you graduate college. Even if you begin your senior year with plans set in stone and a guaranteed internship, there’s still the possibility that your desires might shift or circumstances might change. The point is, you might find yourself really stressed out over making a very specific goal happen, but it’s important to remember that things might flow a different direction and maybe it’s not worth getting completely bent out of shape over a bad test grade.

Try to stay focused yet flexible when it comes to your plans after graduation, and don’t let the stress completely swallow you. This is one season of your life, and while it’s important, it shouldn’t be emotionally crippling.

3. You can do things the unorthodox way

Don’t be afraid of trying something new or going the unconventional route. Got a stellar internship? Take less credits to make space for it. Want to study abroad for a semester? Put off graduating for a year. College is a once-in-a-lifetime season, and if there’s an opportunity you want to take advantage of, go for it. It’s not worth stressing yourself out or giving up important

You won’t regret making space for your dreams, and graduation will still be there once you’re done.

4. Things might be hard. But the end is near!

No one is going to make your senior year easier for you. It’s kind of just part of the deal. Your professors aren’t going to be going any easier on you and your classes certainly aren’t going to get less demanding. When things feel tough, try and remember that this is your education. All this coursework and studying is for you—you’re paying for it! You’ll get out of it what you put into it, and if you’re really struggling, there are resources like tutors, study groups, and more that you can take advantage of.

Your degree is prepping you for the workforce or for a Masters or PhD, so it’s not supposed to be a breeze. Embrace the independence you now have and need to take hold of as you pursue adulthood. Take the initiative to get help where you need it. It might seem scary, but all this prep you’re doing is helping shape you into an independent adult who will be able to make his or her way in the world.