Well, you are closing in on that degree you’ve been working towards for the past several months. However, things are getting a bit hectic now because you are excited, yet nervous, over what lies ahead.

The big decision one needs to make is whether you want to continue your education and get a master’s or even a doctoral degree right away or to hold off on it until later in your life.

If you decide to attend graduate school right away, you need to start applying to graduate school as soon as possible (preferably, you should have already done this.) You should take the necessary tests like the LSAT, GMAT, GRE, etc. as soon as you can as well.

If you decide to hold off on graduate school and want to enter or reenter the workforce, you obviously need to find a position. Preferably, you have already done some work in this area, as the sooner you start, the better the chance you have of finding a position before graduation comes.

Hopefully, over the course of your college career, you have already made some contacts in the industry via co-ops, internships, etc.; if not, now is certainly a time you need to do that.

Contact every friend and colleague to see what connections you can make with companies and people who work in the industry you intend to enter. Conduct job interviews with companies you have an interest in working for – research their company first and know how their company operates, what exactly they do, etc. to make a good first impression and increase your chances of getting hired.

Taking an internship or co-op at this point of time would not be a bad idea, especially if you haven’t to this point. Ones who intern with a company and perform well will usually have an advantage in gaining a position with the company over those graduates who didn’t intern with them. It can also give you valuable experience on whether you want to work with that company long-term, as well as make your resume look better as well.

Another factor you need to consider when deciding between attending graduate school right after graduation or holding off on it and entering or reentering the work force is your student loan repayment. You usually have a six-month grace period to repay your student loans, but that grace period could be extended to a few years if you attend graduate school right away.

This is all the more reason why you should really start conducting your job search before you graduate if you decide to postpone graduate school, as the current state of the economy can prevent qualified candidates from receiving
well-paying positions for several months after graduation. Obviously, if you have loans to pay and six months before they need to be repaid, you need some type of substantial income established before the six months after graduation is over. The sooner you start researching potential positions, making contacts in your field of study, and interviewing for positions, the sooner you will be able to gain a long-term position.

Even with all these responsibilities planning for life after graduation, you still have to keep your grades up. After all, if your grades slip too much, you either won’t graduate or your resume won’t be as impressive as it could be, which
could affect what positions are available for you. So keeping your grades up and performing well on your final examinations are still very important, even though you have to also take steps to either continue on with graduate school or finding a position in your new field of study at the same time.

It’s not easy to balance these two very important responsibilities in your life, and it can be quite stressful.

Some ways to help deal with the stress:

– Keep track of important dates and meetings so you don’t ¬†forget to do anything important.

– Put forth your best effort on everything you do, but be economical with your time as well – don’t spend too much time on any one thing, or you likely won’t be able to handle everything you need to handle.

– If you need help or assistance with something, don’t be afraid to ask; don’t put off asking questions, thinking you can handle it yourself. If you try to handle it yourself and then find out you can’t solve the problem or figure something out, then you’ve wasted all that time and still have to go ask somebody for assistance anyway. You can’t afford to waste time on anything.

– Make sure to eat right, exercise regularly (30 minutes each day at least,) and get enough sleep (7-8 hours would be ideal); you can’t perform at your best if you are sleep-deprived, eat the wrong foods, or get out of shape.

– Don’t forget to take some time out for yourself; while you are expected to work hard during this important time of your life, you are NOT expected to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without taking time out for yourself or doing a fun activity every once in a while with family or friends (say once a week.) This can help to recharge you and restore your focus during this strenuous period.

The final few months of one’s college career is an exciting, yet strenous time. If you prepare yourself for the challenges ahead, work diligently, and stay focused, you should be able to graduate with high grades AND have a promising, well-paying position by the time you graduate.

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