Advice For Incoming Seniors, From One That's Graduating

So you finally made it. You finished your junior year and in just a few short months you will embark on the journey that is your last year ever in college: Senior Year. 

This is a really exciting thing for some people, and for others, it can be one of the scariest years of their life. This next year will be full of "lasts" as well as "firsts", and will require you to develop serious time management skills (if you haven't already) in order to prioritize your final months before going off into the real world. 

So what things should you know before you begin your last year of school ever? Well, I'll tell you what I learned, as well as what some of what my peers have learned, just as our final days of school come to an end. 

Stress is temporary, but memories are forever.

"Live up every single moment, even the ones where you're stressed to the max, because eventually it will all come to an end" my friend Kate told me. You might think that the exam you have coming up is going to be the end of the world, but you know that in reality, it isn't. Sure, there will definitely be times throughout this next year where you will be anxious about assignments and exams. But in a couple of months, those won't matter the slightest bit in the grand scheme of things. Don't let stress get in the way of you enjoying your limited number of days. Prioritize your time so that you can hangout with your friends on the weekend and do well on your exam the next week.

Take advantage of everything your school has to offer you.

"Get as involved as your schedule can handle, especially in things you might not be familiar with" my friend Jameela recommends. Something I regret is not joining more clubs, and even with the clubs I was in, not doing as much with them as I could have. I joined UI PAWS my freshman year at the university, and although I always wanted to, I never got involved enough to be able to volunteer at the local animal shelter. I also always wanted to join the Ski Club, but never ended up doing it. Even though I have never skied before, it could have been a cool experience to go on a ski trip and learn.

The most important thing I regret not getting involved with was studying abroad. One of my good friends finally made the decision to study abroad her senior year, and it was one of the best experiences she has ever had. "The best lessons are learned through adventures. And it's just as much learning the material as it is finding out who you are and where you fit" she told me. You should take every opportunity that comes your way because you might end up regretting it like me if you don't.  

Spend more time with positive influences, whoever they may be.

Becoming a senior also means that you are maturing into an adult that is getting ready to make big life decisions. Now, many of these decisions will revolve around where you might live next year and what kind of job you will get. But some of these decisions can be smaller, and just as important. This year I made new friendships and let go of old ones. Ones that were no longer serving me in a positive way, ones I decided didn't need to be a priority in my life anymore.

This is a decision that some people will have to make as seniors, especially if you are moving away and deciding whether or not to keep in touch. Spend this year with people who always want you to be your best, who support you and encourage you to reach your full potential. This doesn't necessarily have to be just friends your age either. This can be your parents, your coworkers and your professors. Whoever it may be, spending time with people who positively influence you will help shape you into the person you want to be.

You don't have to do absolutely everything there is to do, but you should at least try.

Being the almost-senior that you now are, you have probably come to the realization that you are about to experience a lot of lasts. The last time you will tailgate as a student at your university, the last time you will have a winter break, the last time you will go to a frat party, the last time you will go on a bar crawl with your classmates, the last spring break and the last classes and final exams.

So my advice, take advantage of it all. Wake up really early and go tailgating. Finally join the club you've been considering joining for the past couple of semesters. Plan an exciting girls trip for spring break. Go to every single one of your classes and get the most out of what your teachers have to offer you. Do everything because this might just be the last chance to ever do it. 

Make the most of your final year in college - you can stay in and lay on the couch when you're 40.

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