For some college students, organization is the make or break factor of their semester. But as I learned last semester, and am still learning, organization as a senior is a whole other ball game.
While your senior year may look similar to past college years in the number of classes you’re taking, the extracurricular activities you engage in, and your job, there are some time commitments that don’t arise until you are a senior. Then you have to figure out not only how to keep track of everything you’re doing, but how to make time for these new commitments.
I’m talking about post-graduate applications.
Whether you are going to grad school or getting a job after college, applications are a time-consuming effort you can’t avoid. A lot goes into any application, but first, you have to find them. If we’re talking grad school, you have to research what kind of program and degree you want and then look into every possible program — which is never a short list. As for jobs, who hasn’t heard the horror stories about spending months job searching only to never find a position you’re a good fit for??
So let’s talk time management. If your schedule is super packed or you’re just dreading getting started, I recommend putting aside an hour a day where you replace scrolling through your Instagram feed or FYP with looking for grad programs or job listings. The best part about this search is the flexibility it offers: you can do it at the end of the day, a random hour you have free or even before bed. It gets you into the habit of looking for opportunities, and if you aren’t in a rush, you can consider more advanced research. That way, you know (a) what kind of jobs and programs are out there and (b) any qualifications you’ll need to land the gig.
Once you find the job or program you want, it’s time to start those applications and get all your materials together. First, determine any deadlines so you know which ones come first and can manage the various application timelines effectively. Create a calendar just for your applications, so you don’t find yourself unprepared to apply on the day an important one is due.
After that, dedicate a time or a day that you just focus on getting them done. You can even do it in steps: “Today I am getting my cover letters done” or “Today I am reaching out to references.” Treat applications like a school project and set mini-deadlines, so it doesn’t feel so massive and stressful.
And that’s how you stay on top of grad school or job applications as a college student who won’t be an undergrad for much longer.