Last-Semester Tasks to Get You Ready for Post-Grad Life

Three PLNU students watch the sunset over the ocean

Your last semester of college is bittersweet. On one hand, you’re excited for the future and what’s to come. On the other, it’s scary to leave college behind and enter into the future with all of the unknowns. To help you prepare for life after college it’s best to stay on top of a few helpful tasks throughout your final semester. 

Here are just a few of the things you should focus on to head into post-grad life as prepared as possible.

Focus on Finances

After multiple years of college, money may seem more stressful than ever. However, it’s also an important factor to consider, as getting your finances on track as early as possible will only help you in the long run. One of the common phrases heard on college campuses is the “broke college student” identifier. That doesn’t have to be you!

If you haven’t already done so during your college tenure, look into legit ways to make money in college during your final semester. Making even a little bit of money now can give you an advantage after graduation. Set it aside to use when you really need it, which will be good practice for when you’re getting a paycheck from your post-grad job. This money can help with a deposit on an apartment or house, contribute toward any loan payments, or even help you relocate to a new city.

Apply to Jobs

Part of why you’re going to college is to prepare for and find a career you love. As you enter your last semester of college, the beginning of that career is only a few months away. While there’s no one-size-fits-all time to begin job hunting, it’s a good idea to start while you’re still in school. 

Starting the application process in March or April gives you enough time without it being too early for employers. However, you can begin looking and getting a sense of what jobs are out there as soon as the semester begins. This will help you get a sense of what jobs are available in different cities, and you can begin researching the cost of living in those locations to help you decide.

In the meantime, researching jobs early on can give you insight into what employers are looking for. This will give you the information you need to optimize your LinkedIn profile to become more discoverable for the time period when you’re applying.

Prepare for Interviews

Ideally, after you’ve begun applying for post-grad jobs, you’ll begin the interview process. Whether they’re in-person, over the phone, or on Zoom, interviews can be nerve-wracking. It’s important to remember though, this is the first time your potential employer will be interacting with you, not the you that was presented on paper. So, making a good first impression is critical.

Remember, you’ll likely be referring back to your resume, so it’s important to avoid some common resume mistakes and know your professional experience well enough where you’re effectively able to speak to it. Finding the right combination between bragging and humbleness is key to standing out among the pack of applicants and interviewees. 

It’s also important for you to look the part of a professional. Even if the company you’re applying to is more on the casual side, when you’re interviewing you should wear business attire. This shows that you’re serious, capable of being professional, and offers a sign of respect to those interviewing you.

Find Housing

Entering your last semester of college, you only have a few months left in your dorm or college apartment with your friends. This means you’ll need to find a new place to live when you graduate, and you’ll need to seriously consider the few options you have. 

If you’re planning on moving back home and getting a job, one option is asking to move back in with your parents or family. While this might be the last thing you want to do after having the independence of college, it’s also the most financially beneficial option. It’ll allow you to save up immediately after graduating while you gather the funds you need for other options. 

Your other options are to find a new apartment or look for a house. For either option, you’ll first need to decide where you want to live after graduation and start your career. If you’re looking for an apartment in a new city, be sure to read reviews and ask about virtual tours so you can see it (even virtually) before signing a lease. If you want to and can afford to buy a home, you should first get a mortgage preapproval so you can stand out to sellers and exclusively look for houses in your price range. If you plan to stay in the San Diego area after graduating, connect with friends who plan to do the same so you can look for apartments and houses for rent together. Doing so will help you cut down on your immediate post-college spending.

Take Stock of Your Belongings

While you’re at college, you accumulate a lot of things. This can range from clothes to books to random pieces of furniture. Some of this you’ll need in your transition to your new normal, and other things you won’t. If you can use it, then keep it and bring it with you on your next journey. 

Take time to go through all of this stuff throughout your last semester. Then you can put it into piles of things you’ll keep, give away, or, if necessary, throw away. For the things you’re giving a second life, look for easy ways to sell, donate, or recycle them. Some of it might bring back memories you forgot about, and it’s a good way to reminisce as you close out the college chapter of your life.

Re-Evaluate Your Budget

You likely have a budget for college life, and now it’s time to re-evaluate and consider what your budget will be post-graduation. If you don’t already have a budgeting system in place, now’s the time to start! Creating a budget can be simple even if you’ve never done it before, especially when using one of the best free online budgeting tools. The important thing to remember is that your budget is something that can and should change and evolve over time and as things in your life change. 

Even though you’re in your last semester of college and not yet in your career, you can get a plan ready for after graduation. Look at the average starting salary for whatever job you’re planning on applying for, then you can use that as a base for your budget re-evaluation.  

It’s important for you to enjoy your last semester of college and all of the fun it has to offer. It’s a great time to be intentional about making lifelong memories with friends and check off any remaining items from your college bucket list. But your final semester also presents you with a great opportunity to prepare for your future by focusing on a few simple, yet helpful tasks. By doing so, you’ll be a step ahead when graduation day arrives and feel more prepared to enter into the next chapter of your life.