Preparing Senior Year

The fastest summer ever. Studying for graduate exams, visiting graduate schools, updating resumes and securing letters of recommendation—the list goes on and on.

The summer before senior year is so busy that students may wonder, "Am I really on break?" Nonetheless, it is the best time to prepare for senior year and beyond. To help your student get started, we've compiled a list of suggestions that address post-graduation plans.

Seek professional references

Compile a list of three to five professors, mentors, internship advisors and employers who would write strong, positive letters of recommendation for you. Ask permission first and then follow up with providing them with copies of your updated resume and vitae.

Visit BW Career Services

Utilize resources in the Career Library and online and meet with a career advisor. Summer months are less busy than the school year and resources are more accessible.

Update resume, vitae and BW Career Network profile

Be sure these items are stellar in content and design. Contact Career Services if you need help. Create or update your professional portfolio—a collection of work you've created (e.g., art, writing, music composition).

Hone interviewing skills

Visit Career Services to use Perfect Interview, an online, simulated mock-interview program. Gain valuable feedback about your interview and additional strategies for success by meeting with a career advisor.

Network on and off campus

Make your name and face known to professionals in the field by attending professional conferences, interning and volunteering. Use social media sites like LinkedIn. Expand contacts to include people whose fields directly and peripherally connect to your major or minor.

Intern or career shadow

Multiple and diverse experiences are a must-have for students looking to secure employment or graduate school acceptance.

Take a class

Night, weekend and online courses provide flexible learning opportunities to take classes that can build upon or round out your skill set.

Students interested in pursuing graduate studies can benefit from the following tips:

  • Consider which degree(s) most interest you.
  • Scan web sites and books to begin a preliminary search of colleges/universities offering this degree.
  • Develop a list of schools that interest you and do further research. Visit them if possible.
  • Consider how you will finance your graduate education and determine the tuition, living and other costs associated with each of the schools that interest you.
  • Learn about each school's assistantship/fellowship opportunities and how to apply.
  • Investigate financial aid for graduate school and how to apply for it.
  • Contact your BW faculty advisor, professors and mentors about your selection to gain their viewpoints.
  • Determine which standardized exams you'll need to take as part of your graduate program application.
  • The general GRE tests undergraduate quantitative, analytical and verbal skills. Prepare for the exam by reviewing study guides, taking practice tests and timing yourself, and seeking assistance if necessary.
  • Determine what is a competitive exam score by talking with your faculty advisor or professor, or contact the school directly and inquire.
  • Register for the exam(s) early because spaces can fill up quickly. Many students take it in August or September to allow time for a re-testing, if needed.
  • Begin writing personal statements. Obtain a copy of each school's graduate school application from last year and use it as a foundation to develop your statement.
  • Create a to-do list and timeline for graduate school application and fellowship/assistantship deadlines. Some schools have both graduate school and individual department requirements and deadlines. Most deadlines range from December through February. The average application fee is $40-50.

Looking Good

Is your student prepared for a job interview? Take time this summer to purchase suitable attire.