4 things to think about before graduation

WKU’s Advising & Career Development Center helps students access things to assist with post-grad decisions including the “Dress The Part” initiative to display proper ways to dress to an interview.

Kelley Holland

People attend college for various reasons, whether it’s your own drive or that of your parents, but we all have one goal: graduating. It’s something to look forward to — not just because you’ll likely never have to take a test again but because you’ve accomplished something great.

Stepping off campus and into the real world isn’t as easy as it may sound. There are plenty of things students should think about before they graduate, and some of them often go overlooked.

Housing and finances

This is arguably the most important thing to think about, especially if you are currently living on campus in a residence hall.

Once you graduate, that room is no longer yours. Many students cannot return home to their parents for a variety of personal reasons. Others simply want a place of their own.

Finding an apartment, especially an inexpensive one, won’t be easy. It is a good idea to start looking into housing options and formulating a plan well in advance. If you plan to live independently, it might be in your best interest to find a roommate to help cover costs.

Kayla Shepperson, graduating May 2020, says she advises that students plan as far ahead as they can.

“Naturally I have a lot of concerns,” Shepperson said in an email. “My plan is to go to graduate school, so I’ve been trying to find programs and such as well as means to pay for it. Financing everything is really stressful.”

Planning to move back home? Keep in mind household rules. Will your parent or guardian enforce a curfew? Will they expect you to pay rent or your own bills? Are you covered by health insurance? These are things you should look into before you graduate.

Career

After college, everyone takes a different route. By now, you’ve probably got a good idea of what career you want to have. It’s safe to say that you most likely won’t land your dream job right away, and that’s okay.

Becky Tinker, associate director at the Advising and Career Development Center at WKU, said this is something many students struggle with.

“Students should understand that their first job isn’t necessarily going to be their forever job,” Tinker said in an email. “Each job teaches transferable skills that make students more marketable.”

Jacklyn Travis, a graduate student planning to graduate in 2021, said her priority after graduation is to find a full-time job related to her sociology degree.

“Finding a job that I am not overqualified for that pays well in comparison to my school debt is very important,” Travis said in an email.

Whether you plan on entering the workforce, going to graduate school or participating in some form of military service, you’ll need a plan.

If you’re unsure of what to do, you can stop by the Career Studio in DSU 2001. The staff can help with job searching, resumes, cover letters and more.

Don’t make comparisons

This seems to be a constant cycle we are in: comparing ourselves to others. Remember that everyone is on their own track in life, and just because something may have had a negative outcome for a friend it doesn’t mean the same will happen to you.

“The job search and graduate school application process are very individual,” Tinker said. “Stay focused on your own goals and work towards achieving them.”

It’s probably easier said than done, but stop comparing yourself and your journey to that of your peers. Set your own goals, and see where life takes you.

Make connections

Every semester you meet new people. There are so many opportunities around you, especially if you get involved in clubs or organizations on campus.

This is a great time to network and make lasting connections that will help you after graduation. This means reaching out to peers as well as faculty and staff that may be able to provide you with information or connections that will be useful later.

“Network and make connections with a diverse range of people,” Travis said. “Most of all, never ever turn an opportunity down just because you are scared. It could be the only opportunity to land that dream job.”

Features reporter Kelley Holland can be reached at [email protected] topper.wku.edu.