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As we near the end of the spring semester, my mind has been playing with a soon-to-come reality: I only have two semesters left of university. I’m sure I am not alone in saying that the idea of no longer being a student makes me want to hide in my wildly expensive dorm room and not leave. It’s a truly nerve-wracking thought, but one that we’re all going to need to take head-on, sooner or later. And being the kind of person who needs to write everything down, lest I forget it entirely, I want to note some of the things I’m not only excited for, but very nervous about, in my last year at Arcadia University.
Thesis, the famed final boss battle for undergrads. We’ve all heard the stories: “It’s not that hard if you follow the schedule.” “I wrote it the night before.” “I’m going to sleep for a month after this is done.” Whether it’s a capstone project or an academic paper with a PPT and poster, thesis season is rough for everyone involved. I asked my friend, who graduated in 2014, to share some of her tips. “Make sure you go in with a clear topic that isn’t too broad and know what you’re trying to prove,” she said. “And make sure the topic is something you’re going to be interested in. If not, it makes the research process… well, less dull. Use 100% credible sources (stay away from Wikipedia at all times) from our student resources and you should be fine. Most of all, try to think of questions that your professor or panel may ask you during your presentation. If you can anticipate those, even slightly, you’ll be in good shape.”
A welcome thought for senior year is the re-gathering of the whole class back onto campus. Coming back to campus in the fall to see people you haven’t seen in nine months or even more (I’m looking at you, Isabela) is such a good feeling. Everyone is anxiously awaiting their friends’ return from whatever corner of the world they went away to, keen to hear stories of adventures and questionable decisions made while abroad. I have friends who have been gone their entire junior year, and I’m dying to see them.
Lastly, there’s the daunting idea of getting ready for post-baccalaureate life. Regardless of what you do, whether it be move on to a master’s degree, work, or take a year (or several) off, it will be strikingly different than what we’ve been used to for the past 18 or so years. I think the most common piece of advice I’ve heard is to start thinking about it early. For myself, being interested in foreign service and working overseas means I need to be planning for the future now. The Peace Corps and Fulbright scholarships, for example, have deadlines in the fall. Whatever your future plan, it is good to take this time leading up to graduation and life after to pad your resume and build yourself into a viable applicant. I suggest heading over to the Office of Career Services to get your CV, cover letter, and resume checked once or twice. It’s easy to get appointments and drop-in times are also available. A second opinion is always good, right? Talking to your academic advisor about post-graduation plans in the second semester of junior year will help you to narrow your focus and prepare accordingly. I have my academic as well as my Peace Corp prep advisors to meet with, and other mentors to talk to about my future plans. Even if you’re not thinking about something this complex and plan to head straight to work, fixing up your CV now, and not when you’re on the way to the interview, is good practice.
As Habibah said in her post, there is a great deal of stress but, at the same time, excitement in store. Arcadia has shown me there’s a big world out there. Am I ready for it?