How To Pull Off College Graduation Like A Pro

StepsToGraduation_slide-01Illustration By Sydney Hass.
Graduation day is just on the horizon, and, as you make your way toward it, you’re likely lugging a mixed bag of emotions. You’ve heard it before: College is the best four years of your life. Only, this bit of wisdom doesn’t exactly ring true until the end of those four years. The truth is, wherever you completed your undergraduate education (whether it was at a big state school with a sprawling campus or a small, private city school), you had to work.
You know all too well how rough it is to cram for tests, pull all-nighters in order to finish heavy, analytical papers, and log long hours of work-study to make a little extra cash. These things actually happen in college. The struggle is real. But, on the other hand, you got to enjoy month-long breaks, vacations alongside your best friends (or at least a few weekend road trips), and plenty of school functions or sporting events where it was okay to get a little rowdy.
College is not the real world. But, it provides an indispensable foundation. You concentrated on a particular body of knowledge that will likely guide you in your prospective career. You probably partied a little bit. Maybe you earned credit interning at a highly regarded company or two. You definitely made a lot of friends and expanded your network. But, most importantly, you gained a sense of freedom and independence. On graduation day, you should be able to feel satisfied and at peace with yourself. You’ve made it, and, while crossing over into the working world is a huge milestone, graduating from college is, too. So, don’t miss it. In fact, you should spend a little time thinking about it. Cry about it. Laugh about it. Feel feelings about it.
In order to help you pace yourself during the upcoming weeks of your final semester, we’ve come up with a list of things you might want to do, tasks you might want to complete, people you might want to reach out to, and thoughts you might want to reflect on. Maybe you’ll be inspired to take all of these suggestions, or maybe you’ll take just one. Either way, you’ll manage to avoid that horrible, “unfinished business” feeling, so, when you officially graduate, you can really throw your cap in the air like you just don’t care. Or, you know, genuinely enjoy the moment.
StepsToGraduation_slide-02Illustration By Sydney Hass.
Write Handwritten Thank You Notes
Make a list of all of the people who’ve guided you through your college career. This includes professors who taught the classes you enjoyed (as in, class discussions were actually stimulating and you found yourself intrigued by reading assignments). Your personal advisor definitely deserves a heartfelt letter, since he or she has probably dealt with your crazy meltdowns during scheduling week. Maybe you had a connection with one of your RAs or an older student who acted as your mentor and offered useful advice. And, if you had an internship, you should absolutely check in with your supervisors and let them know how beneficial your experience was at the company and how complementary it was to your education.
Compile Your Work
Okay, so you’ll probably never want to go back and reread that essay you wrote on Gilgamesh sophomore year. And, chances are reviewing those math assignments you turned in won’t really get you anywhere. If you’re a paper hoarder (like this writer), you’ve probably got a lot of notebooks to recycle. But, as you go through your schoolwork, make sure you hold onto the projects you remember putting a lot of effort into — or at least the ones you’re proud of. If you had enough room for four years worth of binders, you can probably manage to salvage a few items and create a single portfolio to hold onto.
Make A Scrapbook
If you’re graduating this May, you’ve likely been ‘gramming your photos for the past couple of years. Or, maybe you uploaded all of your snaps into Facebook albums. But, if you’re the creative type, it might be fun (and it’s definitely affordable) to get a few of your favorite pictures printed. Even if you’re not about the whole fancy-stickers-and-borders routine, putting together a simple book of memories and gifting it to a friend is pretty thoughtful.
StepsToGraduation_slide-03Illustrated By Sydney Hass.
Sort Through Your Books
Remember the professors you had who assigned really great readings? Bookmark those passages. Yes, a lot of the textbook-style chapters or dull, analytical articles you skimmed through were uninspiring to say the least. But, every now and then you likely happened upon a gem — whether it was an author whose voice or opinion jibed with your own, or even an ancient text that led you to appreciate a new philosophy. Whatever it is that you end up doing (career-wise or otherwise), referencing an old book or novel will always come in handy. Plus, you can probably think of at least one text that would make for a great pleasure read should you ever need one.
Create A Playlist
Open up Spotify and pull together some of your go-to tunes from the past four years. Whether it was your bedroom anthem when you were completing all of those first-year seminar assignments or the track you played over and over on the commute to your internship, you can probably name plenty of oldies-but-goodies. Shuffle through these when you’re with your friends during the week of graduation festivities in the name of nostalgia.
Go Shopping — For Your Friends And Yourself
News flash: You’re not the only one graduating. Finding small trinkets for your best friends is the best way to say thanks for the help, the stories, and the memories — especially if you won’t see some of these people for a while. Oh, and, you’re gonna need something to wear to your own grad party, right?

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