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Prepare for Success in College

Prepare for Success in College:  There is a saying that if you are not preparing for success, then you are preparing to fail. The following information shows you some of the things you should consider as an incoming freshman through your senior year of college. Remember, while your classroom experience is critical, much of your development will happen outside of the classroom!

Freshman Year:

  • Become acquainted with your surroundings, familiarizing yourself with your new home (if you are residing in the residence halls) and the college or university campus.
  • Look to see what your institution offers.
  • Explore the many available services that can assist you with your personal and professional development (i.e. Counseling Center, Career Center, Student Activities, Academic Advising, Multicultural Affairs, Educational Opportunity Program, Learning Center, etc.). Take "first year experience" or "career readiness" courses that many colleges and universities offer.
  • Make the extra effort to meet with each of your instructors, introducing yourself and discussing your expectations of the class. This is a good policy to follow each semester.
  • Develop effective study skills by attending workshops, taking a study skills class, and discussing with your professors what they feel is an effective way of preparing for their class.
  • Get involved! Research indicates that the more involved the student, the more likely he or she will be successful in their academic and professional endeavors.
  • Develop an efficient time management program that can assist you in meeting your academic, personal, social, and professional needs. The most effective people are those who can balance their responsibilities, saving enough time to re-energize with friends (see Time Management chapter).
  • Research various majors and disciplines. Stop by your Career Center to discuss your choices with professional career counselors. Consider completing career assessments to learn more about your interests, values, abilities, and the kind of work environment you will most likely thrive in.

Sophomore Year:

  • If you are not already in a major, begin to focus your efforts on choosing a major that most closely matches your interests, abilities, values and personality. Once you have selected the "perfect" major, meet with an Academic Advisor to discuss what prerequisites are required before you apply to the department. Understand that nothing is set in stone and always keep your options open.
  • If you are having difficulty selecting a major, stop by your Career Center where you can take an interest inventory assessment, use computerized programs focusing on career decision making, and/or meet with a counselor to discuss your options. Don't wait until your fourth semester!
  • After choosing your major, make sure that you have taken all of the prerequisites. Some classes are in sequence, meaning you have to take one before the other. These classes are offered in the fall and the spring semester. If you miss the fall class, you have to wait until next fall to fulfill the requirement.
  • Continue to 1) prioritize your academic obligations, 2) explore different activities and organizations on campus, 3) take care of your personal and social needs.
  • Explore internship, independent study, research, and volunteer opportunities that will facilitate your acceptance into your major and further your professional development.
  • It is not too early to start planning for graduation. You will have many demands for your time over the next three years. Successful students will begin to develop a resume, attend networking functions (alumni events), and will allow enough time in their schedule for internships and volunteering.

Junior Year:

  • Attend Career Center workshops to learn about services and programs that will facilitate your job search or graduate application process.
  • Consider your post-graduation plans. Whether you choose graduate school or employment, you need to begin planning by your junior year.
  • Do your research! Explore the graduate school option by attending graduate and law school fairs, attending workshops on the application process, and speaking with a career counselor.
  • Examine the economy, look at employment trends, demographic shifts, up-and-coming industries, the global market, and economic statistics (inflation, unemployment, etc.).
  • Begin your clinical or field work, or obtain an internship in your area of interest to gain a competitive edge in the job market.
  • Select professors, advisors, and/or employers for the development of a mentoring relationship and to write future letters of recommendation.
  • Begin to explore leadership roles in employment, class, volunteer, and college activities. Employers and graduate schools expect students to have these experiences in a variety of capacities.
  • Join professional organizations to develop a strong network and the necessary skills for future success.
  • Continue to 1) prioritize your academic obligations, 2) explore different activities and organizations on campus, 3) take care of your personal and social needs.
  • Check with your academic advisor to ensure that you are completing all of the necessary requirements for your planned graduation.
  • See Those Pursuing Graduate/Professional School under the Senior Year heading in order to get a jump start on applying to graduate school.

Assistance for Graduating Seniors

Career Centers assist graduating seniors in their job search efforts, offering workshops on resume writing, interview skills, networking, job search strategies and other career related areas; job fairs, and on-campus recruitment. For graduating seniors, the Center's activities are usually targeted at the later stages of student development with the primary objective of facilitating the transition from undergraduate student to professional career or to graduate school.

Senior Year:

ALL Students:

  • Check with Records and Registration and your academic advisor to be sure that all degree requirements are completed.
  • Visit your Career Center to set up a credential/reference letter file, to speak with a career counselor in your field of study, and to explore the hundreds of resources in the Career Library.
  • Organization is the key! Be prepared to deal with the unexpected.

Those Pursuing Employment:

  • Begin your job search in September with your Career Center. Update your resume and have it critiqued, fine-tune your interview skills, participate in the On Campus Recruitment and the Mentor/Alumni Matching Program, and attend all relevant job fairs.
  • Ask various professors, advisors, and employers for letters of recommendation that will be kept in your credential/reference letter file at the Career Center.
  • Utilize the Internet to research employers, search for position vacancies, and explore relocation possibilities.
  • Do not hesitate to make an appointment to meet with a career counselor if you have any questions or concerns regarding your job search strategies.

Those Pursuing Graduate/Professional School (see Going To Graduate School chapter):

  • Attend the graduate and law school fairs in September and Career Center workshops that detail the application process.
  • Ask selected faculty, advisors, and supervisors for positive letters of recommendation, which support your candidacy for admission to graduate school.
  • Research the schools to which you wish to apply. Note deadlines and all admission requirements (see Going To Graduate School chapter).
  • Standardized tests may be required and must be taken well in advance of admission deadlines.
  • Prepare a personal statement and have it critiqued by a career counselor. This statement will be a very important part of your application and should be constructed with a great deal of thought and consideration.

Other Services for Graduating Seniors

  • Professional credential/reference letter file;
  • Graduate and professional school counseling;
  • Mock interviews that may utilize a "film and review" format;
  • Mentor/Alumni Matching Program, a program that matches college students with alumni volunteers and employers, giving students the opportunity to gain insight into career fields and develop potential contacts for future employment;
  • Career and Job Fairs & a web site that facilitates the job search process.