Graduation: Plan Before It Happens

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 10:33 PM

You’ve almost made it. Congratulations in advance. Assuming everything goes as planned, you’re going to graduate in spring.

You have been attending every tutoring session for that one class you’re struggling in. The first test didn’t go so well, but now you’re feeling much more confident. You’re ready to take your second test, and this time, you’re sure it will have far less red ink marking up the page.

You have both checked and double checked your “Degree Works” and filled out the curriculum guide worksheet multiple times with and without your advisor. You are sure this graduation thing is going to happen, whether you’re ready or not.

So you know it’s going to happen, but you don’t know how to prepare for it or what to expect.

I graduate in December 2016, not May, but in some ways, I know what you’re going through. I tend to plan ridiculously ahead, so I’m already worried about life after college. I’m planning as if I’m graduating in May.

I spent all of high school planning to attend college, and as much as I plan, I haven’t planned much after college. I have spent all my time and energy with the college preparation and was perhaps hoping the real world might fall into place afterwards.

Within the first few weeks of coming to Edinboro, I was knocking on my advisor’s door. The first semester of classes was scheduled for me, but I was already worried about the spring semester, despite the fact that most others were still only worried about the first tests in each of their classes. My advisor sat down with me and after a series of meeting, I had a single sheet of notebook paper with a schedule laid out for the rest of my college years.

I had planned out which semester I would take each class here at Edinboro, and while some of that plan has needed to be revised along the way, I was able to follow through with my plan pretty well. I sort of had a back-up plan for the plan anyways.

My plan was this. That first semester at Edinboro, I took five classes or 15 credits. I figured I could handle more coursework and should take 18 credits over 15 credits in the future. This was back when I wasn’t so involved in campus organizations, but I have been able to maintain this workload throughout every semester.

It was mostly journalism I would take on Edinboro’s campus. I could take general education courses online or elsewhere. I would take some summer courses at my community college. I took five classes last summer and took a few general education classes and some business classes to put towards my business administration minor.

I had taken several advanced placement courses and other college level classes in high school even before coming to Edinboro. I hadn’t known how much effect these classes would have on my ability to graduate early or save money on classes, I just wanted to take them partly as a challenge and partly in college preparation. However, when getting actual college credit for my hard work and effort, I didn’t complain. It was, in my eyes, more of an added bonus though.

As a result of my planning, I am graduating a little sooner than most, but the graduation anxiety is hitting me, too, even though I am a planner.

So I am, of course, thinking about post-graduation life, and I am curious and nervous about where I might end up. I am sure you know that feeling. It’s excitement mixed with fear. It’s like you are a want-to-be lion trainer being thrown into a lion’s cage. You have all the skills to train the lion and are excited to see how well you can apply your skills, but you’re also afraid. You know that if you fail, you’ll die.

I hope you realize you won’t die if you don’t like your first job or your first boss doesn’t like you, but I can see why you’re concerned. You want to successfully apply everything you have learned and you’re excited about the future possibilities for your career, but it’s still a new step, which might cause you to be nervous.

So take some advice from a planner (me) and plan ahead. You have the skills you need. Know your abilities and be confident about them.

And if you haven’t started planning, you need to get started. No time is better than now. Use your weekends or your spring break to your advantage. Get your resume or cover letter in the mail or email. Take every networking opportunity you have and don’t pass up job fairs.

Speak with and maintain strong connections with anyone in your field, especially professors and advisors who have come to know you and your skill set, but don’t forget those people who aren’t in your field. You could find the link to your first job anywhere.

If you don’t have a resume or cover letter, visit student success services on campus and get help.

You can control your future, but you have to take the steps to do so.

It’s both exciting and terrifying to take a new step. We don’t know what’s ahead if we blindly put one foot in front of the other. We are likely to trip and fall.

But if we plan and prepare for the future, we have a reasonable expectation for the next step on the staircase to be strong and sturdy enough to hold our weight, and if by chance it isn’t, we have a railing to grasp onto.

Tracy Geibel is the Executive Editor for The Spectator and she can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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