Graduation preparation: surviving the last semester


Nostalgia. Relief. Fear. Excitement. Graduation.

This is a day that students, family and friends have planned for and looked forward to, and it’s finally here. How does it feel? Nostalgic? Relieving? Scary? Exciting?

Rewind a few months. Spring semester is just beginning and there are plenty of things to keep students’ minds off of the college chapter of life coming to a close. The details and preparation that go into graduation and the great unknown that follows matter most right now.

Some of the most beneficial things to do prior to walking across the stage involve focusing on right now. Keep that part-time job just in case there is a window of time before landing that entry-level dream job. Enjoy quality time with the friends that lasted this long so that bond will last even longer. Apply to every job thinkable and keep important contacts that will be helpful while job searching.

“You will go through many different cycles here at UTSA,” explained senior geography major Andrew Throgmorton. “Classes, group projects, friend groups and social scenes; take day one of freshman year to graduation and see which of your friends are still left standing with you. Those are your best friends.”

Some of the friendships that began in college will be lifelong. These are the people who have probably been around for the best and worst of times. When graduation is over, it’s important to understand that it may be time to settle in somewhere else and foster new friendships. But don’t forget about the people who made these important times memorable. Friendship is a two way street. Do what it takes to meet in the middle.

“My family has supported me throughout college,” Throgmorton said. “They are ready for me to graduate and move on to the next phase of my life.”

Some graduates will be the first in their family to graduate from college. Maybe going to college was something that was always expected and anticipated. Or maybe college wasn’t an option when at 18, but it is now after working hard and saving money. Regardless of the conventional or unconventional college route, most students have family to thank for encouraging and shaping the college graduates everyone hopes to become. Being surrounded by as many family members as possible is part of what makes this day so special; it’s about celebrating with people who were there from the beginning.

“I felt extreme relief to see my family and close friends witness what took so long for me to accomplish,” mechanical engineering graduate student Nick Goodwin said. “I was also anxious so much as to not trip as I walked across the stage and back to my seat.”

In addition to family and friends, don’t forget about the new skill sets that professors provide. Keep in contact with the ones who really stand out when thinking about this educational experience because these connections may help with landing that dream job. Teachers care a lot more than students tend to think. Transitioning from auditorium-sized freshman classes to much smaller upper division courses is something to take advantage of.

Goodwin also shared that during his last semester he took time to network and get to know his professors better. “This put me in a great position for letters of recommendation and assistance in terms of landing the job that I wanted.”

The next important step is taking those skills and applying to potential jobs near and far. Always keep an updated resume close by and keep social media content under a watchful eye. Reach out to potential employers after sending in an application, and let them know how much the job means by emailing or calling in an attempt to set up an interview. It can be scary to think that each graduate had a unique journey through college only to graduate with a degree that hundreds of other people from the same university alone will also receive. But fear not, applying to any and all positions of interest is not likely to leave scholars empty handed.

“Now that I have worked for an amazing company for about ten months, I’d have to say that I want to gain more experience and have a couple semesters of grad school under my belt before I actually decide what city I want to start a family and career in,” Goodwin said of his time as Associate Pipeline Integrity Engineer at Nustar Energy.

College should be a time to look back on and smile about, but it’s safe to assume that life will still get better from here. College is a time to gain a better understanding of who to be, who to be surrounded by and what to achieve. Enjoy the last few months and try not to stress.