By Sam Hosman ’14Well, this is it. You’re about to enter your final year at PLU. HUZZAH! I remember when I started my last year at PLU, I already was carrying a maturing case of Senioritis and had my eyes on the prize that is graduation. I was so mentally ready to graduate once I started in the fall, and then I blinked and it was May, and I was hastily driving with my cap and gown to the Tacoma Dome. I really try to live my life without regrets— and you should, too; it’s a healthy mental habit—yet I can’t help but feel I didn’t do my senior year 100% justice. The year goes by faster than you think, and there are a few things I wish I had known sooner. By now you know how the “Lute Dome” functions, and you’re probably rolling your eyes at an advice article via PLU. This is something different. This is my Top 10 Tips of Pre-Senior Advice from my post-college self. Take a quick gander over this sentimental and retrospective list, and hopefully something will stick with you.
1. Manage your procrastination.
I mastered mine down to a science, and by now you probably have, too. Let’s admit it: You’re going to procrastinate, so you need to learn how to manage that. Know when it’s appropriate to clean your room and when you should study for that Chemistry final. Stay on top of deadlines for class. Know when you need to register to graduate. If you don’t already use the magical thing that is Google Calendar, then you really should start using it now—I pinky promise it will save your butt when you’re consumed by your Capstone and you forgot you have an Art History final at the end of the week.
2. Be ON campus.
Join a club. Eat lunch in Red Square. Go for a run on Lower Campus. Go to a soccer game. Attend ASPLU events. Be active ON campus in some way. PLU is a really special place, and if you live off campus—or even if you live on campus—I promise you’re going to miss it one way or another once you’ve graduated. Be present— this is the last year you’re going to be a student AT Pacific Lutheran, so be one.
3. Sweat blood and tears over your Capstone.
Regardless of what past seniors might have told you, your Capstone/senior thesis is a really big flippin’ deal. I don’t care if you’re studying Communication or Kinesiology or Psychology or Anthropology—ALL final senior projects matter. You need to sweat blood and tears and love over it because you’ll feel amazing once you’ve finished it, and you’ll be amazed and proud of how much you’ve accomplished.
4. Learn how to budget.
College is a black hole of bliss, ladies and gents, and once you leave it, you’ll realize just how comfortable it really was. Start budgeting how much you spend in the fall, and start saving money ASAP. Your future self will thank you when you have even the smallest financial cushion once you graduate. If you have been budgeting since day one at PLU, I applaud you and respect you immensely.
5. Get cozy with loans.
If you’re like me, you’ve borrowed money and are scared out of your pants to pay “them” back. Repayment should be on your mind in the fall, but keep an eye out for emails in the spring that say you’ll need to fill out an “Exit Counseling” document for your loans. It’s essentially a contract where you sign your life away and cross your heart you’ll pay your loans back. There’s a bunch of options for repayment, so don’t fret if you are or know you will be in a financial pinch. Check with your guardians and/or the Financial Aid Office to know when you need to start paying back your loans, and how much you’ll have to pay back (after interest).
6. Don’t stress.
If you still have no idea what you want to do, or if you’re regretting your major or think your GPA isn’t good enough for grad school: Don’t lose heart. You’re made it this far, and you’re so close to completing a really big achievement. Life in all its fullness will supply the answers, and you’ll figure out “what’s next” when the time is right.
7. Figure out grad requirements.
When you start fall semester, you should double- and then triple-check that you are on track for graduation. Don’t be the person who has to call his parents in April to tell them he’s not graduating in May. You’ll learn that your CAPP Report is king.
8. Leave a legacy.
Volunteer. Help a professor with a project. Find a job on campus. Contribute to PLU in any way you can, so that you’ve made an impact on someone or something before you leave.
9. Build relationships with your professors.
If you haven’t started establishing relationships with your professors outside of the classroom, then you should start now. Professors will be a huge resource for you as a post-college professional. You’re guaranteed to have questions about your field of study, and your PLU professors will be a guiding light for you.
10. Work hard, but have fun.
End your time at PLU on a good foot: not for your friends or for your parents, but for yourself. Work hard in class, but don’t be afraid to have some fun. Go on hikes. Explore Tacoma. Take a 2 a.m. roadtrip to Voodoo Doughnut in Portland just because. Go to parties. Invite friends over for a Netflix marathon. This is your last year as a college student! Live it up.