Another semester has officially come to an end, and college sophomores, now rising juniors, already are, or should be thinking about junior year, a critical year for college students. Junior year is the time when most college students have just declared their majors and are beginning to take the core curriculum courses for their majors. Junior year is not to be taken lightly, and there are some important things for juniors to keep in mind. Here are some valuable tips and pieces of advice for rising juniors.
Map out the rest of your college career. It might sound unnecessary, but one of the most common mistakes among college students is to overlook their cumulative credits and to wind up being short one or two classes in order to graduate. Each school tracks its students’ progress differently, but find a system that works for you. Whether you keep a running list on your own or your school gives you access to your academic audit, monitor the courses you take. Be sure that you have taken your mandatory general education requirements, and plan the next two years of college by semester. List all of the courses you need to take and allocate them to specific semesters, checking to make sure that you either have taken or will be able to take the appropriate prerequisites. It is very possible that certain courses you need might not be offered during certain semesters, so be sure to have an advisor look over your plan. The best thing you can do is to have a clear-cut plan because it will eliminate the stress associated with trying to graduate on time once it has been established that you are behind or the heartbreak associated with finding out that you will not graduate on time.
Tip: Take you tougher classes during your junior year. This is one piece of advice I wish someone had given to me when I was a junior. If possible, save your lighter workload for senior year.
Reach out to your advisor. Many college advisors often times take a laid back approach to their advisees. In several schools, after freshman year, advisors allow students to make their own schedules and expect the students to come to them if they need anything. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your advisor for any reason at all. Whether you need advice on classes, career guidance, or you merely need a channel through which to vent about school, use your advisors as a sounding board. Their main responsibility as your advisor is to provide any support you might need. However, don’t rely solely on your advisor. If there is something you need or something you need more information about, place the burden on yourself to go after it. If you have a question about something, you can certainly ask your advisor for help, but also be wiling to do research into your question. Junior year is the time for you to reach out and take our college career into your own hands because the effort you put forth will translate into the results you get.
Tip: Meet with your advisor at least once or twice per semester, especially at the beginning and end to discuss your goals for the semester and whether or not you met those goals.
Don’t limit yourself to only your advisors. Colleges and universities have several resources available to you, so you should never feel as if your advisor is your only source for guidance. If there is a professor you connect well with, whether or not he or she is your own professor, reach out to them and have a conversation about school and your career. Take advantage of your career services department. The counselors and advisors can be of great assistance to you. If possible, also find someone who can be a mentor to you. The individual does not have to work at your college or university, but it might make it easier for your mentor to provide certain support if they are a part of the faculty because they will know about the school’s resources. Once you choose your mentor, nurture the relationship and keep the lines of communication open because you never know when you will need to talk or what about.
Tip: Discuss your career aspirations with someone from the career services department. Ask for feedback and guidance as frequently as you feel is necessary.
Aggressively search for an internship. This particular piece of advice is one of the most important I can give. An internship or co-op experience of some kind is very important during the summer after your junior year. Most firms with formal internships do their recruiting during the fall semester of your junior year, so you must begin the legwork during the summer before your junior year. Spend the summer thinking about your major and what you want to do in the future. Then, look into companies you might want to work for that have well established internship programs. Make a list of the companies as well as which of their internship programs you are interested in, as well as the application process, including the due date.
Tip: Work on your resume. You will it need it for your application.
Tip: Brush up on your interview skills. Going in for a job interview is not as easy as it looks.
Junior year is a critical year in laying the foundation for life after college, but you have to be willing to do the work.