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Looking back, you probably thought this day would never come, alas, the season is upon us. We are now in the final weeks of your senior year. The time seems to come so slow, but the final weeks will pass quickly. Before the time passes there are things that you should do before you say good bye to high school and embark on the new challenges of life. Here is a list of things to accomplish:

o Go to Prom. Prom is one of those once in a lifetime events that you cannot go back and redo. Some may not be into the primping, pomp, and presentation that comes with Prom, but you should still go. Be yourself, go with a friend if you do not have a date, and if you are not enjoying your time there you can leave.

o Do not skip graduation. Again, this is another once in a lifetime event. You will only graduate from high school once. This is the time to celebrate you and your successes, you may not believe it, but not everyone makes it to this point in their life and it truly is an accomplishment that you should celebrate.

o Get a yearbook. Again, one of those things that you may not care about now, but 5, 10, or 20 years from now it will be nearly impossible to get your hands on a copy. You tuck it away and bring it out later, because there is almost always a time that you will reminisce on high school and having a yearbook is necessary for memory lane.

o Connect with people you would like to stay in contact with after high school. Get their phone number, email, and social media handles. The friends you know in high school, will not be the same people you know after high school. There could be people at college that you meet from high school that you never knew, but you now have two thing in common; you are from the same town and went to the same school and have now ended up at the same school.

o Thank your teachers. Wrap up the year with a quick thank you note, graduation picture and even a gift. Your teachers have been there from the beginning with the goal of getting you to this point, so why not thank them and let them know how much you appreciate them helping you, developing you, encouraging you, and pushing you to this point. Don’t think about just this year or semester or even school. Think back to elementary and middle school. If there were teachers (coaches, guidance counselors, or principals) who impacted you, let them know. Teachers do not hear it enough and everyone love to be appreciated. Lastly, you think this may be the last time you will see them, but it may not be. You may need a letter of recommendation, complete internship hours, or need help with an assignment in college. The relationship is not ending, it is evolving.

o Let people know where you are going and what you are doing. Be sure to let your guidance counselor know where you are going and what your plans are after school. Again, the relationship is not ending it is evolving. There may be an opportunity for you to mentor students in the years to come if they are interested in a similar career path, or attending the same school, or are following in your footsteps. You may be asked to come and talk with a class and share your story, but if you do not share your story then no one will know.

o Work if you can. The best thing you can do is work and save money for your first semester. You will need books, supplies for school and your room, spending money for activities, and of course food. Have as much money saved as possible, because emergencies occur, and you want to be as prepared as possible. Avoiding work your first semester is ideal, because it allows you to get acclimated to school and the demands that it will bring. After first semester then you can consider a job.

o Get prepared for your next chapter. You do not want to wait until the last minute to gather the tings you need for the next chapter after high school. You can start to gather items for your room on campus, save money for textbooks, connect with your new roommate prior to arrival, and if available look at your syllabus so you can purchase books as soon as they are available.

o Celebrate your accomplishment. Go somewhere, do something, buy something memorable. Do something that YOU would like to do. Talk to your parents and figure out affordable, feasible, and approved ways that you can celebrate your accomplishment. For some it may be a trip, it may be a car, a spa date, a laptop/gadget, or it could simply be dinner at YOUR favorite place, or your favorite meal prepared by grandma. It does not have to be anything extravagant; it should simply be about you celebrating what you have worked for 12+ years to do.

o Spend the last few weeks with family, friends, and significant others. Taking the time to spend with important people in your life is critical. Your graduating affects everyone around you and anxiety levels are pretty high. Your siblings are nervous about you leaving home and what the family dynamic will look like without you. Your parents are nervous about you leaving the nest with all the information, skills, and tools that they tried to provide to you over the years. Your significant other is nervous about what the future will hold for you two. Lastly, your friends are nervous about what the new chapter brings, if you will still be friends, and how you will stay connected. This is a lot of anxiety to manage and navigate. Your role is critical to provide as smooth of a transition as possible. You do this by simply giving everyone some of your time before you leave. Allowing one group to monopolize your time will have a negative impact on the others. So, figure out a way to give some time to everyone before your next chapter begins.

o Thank your parents and grandparents. Your success has making it to this moment has truly been a investment. Find a special way to thank your parents and grandparents for te investment they have made in your success.

Now is the time in the semester, where you should be asking yourself “why did I sign up for this class?”  This is NORMAL.  Every student has this moment at least once a year if not once a semester. Sometimes courses are required, sometimes it is a matter of which professor is teaching the course, sometimes the course description did not do any justice in accurately describing the class, sometimes other courses influence your ability to do well (perhaps taking 7 biology classes at one time is too much for you to handle, but if you took 3 this semester and 3 next semester you would be more successful), and sometimes the workload seems unbearable and you feel like you are in way over your head.  Whatever the reason, this is NORMAL.

Take time to evaluate your feelings and determine if you may need to drop the class.  Is it really because you are in over your head, you are not grasping the concepts; you cannot keep up, and failing assignments or is it because you are not giving the course the adequate attention and preparation it deserves? Is it because your friends are in a different section of the course and they complete a fourth of the work or because your professor challenges you in new ways?  Is it because you thought the course was going to be geared towards certain topics and you are now discovering a newer level of understanding on a topic you did not care to know more about? Before considering dropping a class, ask yourself these questions and really get to the root of why you want to drop the class.

Have you done everything in your power? Met with the professor, gone to study group sessions, sought out a tutor, dedicated more time to studying and understanding the information, or created new ways to study and absorb the information (flash cards instead of an outline or recording the lecture and reviewing them, etc.).  Each semester and each course may require you to change your habits and thought process.  You cannot approach your college level classes the way you approached your high school classes or approach 300 level courses the way you would approach 100 level classes.  You have to review the syllabus, listen to the professor and work with others to see what the course is requiring of you.

After you have thoroughly assessed the course and determined it is not just you wanting the easy way out or having a dislike of the professor and you truly think you are in over your head and your continued participation in the course will result in a failing grade, now is the time to research your options for dropping a class. There are certain cut-off dates that you need to be aware of and be sure to meet.  There are opportunities to drop the class without penalty as if you were never there and there are opportunities to drop the class with it being indicated on your transcript.  Obviously dropping the class without it reflecting on your transcript would be preferred, but withdrawing from a class is a better reflection on your transcript than a failing grade.

Take time to meet with your advisor, let them know what you are planning and what plan you have in place to replace or retake the course. Be sure to know the deadline and work to get everything needed submitted before the deadline.  Depending on the time of the semester you are dropping a class you may be required to get the signature of the professor or even the dean. As you can imagine, they may not be readily available to sign your form, so give yourself time in case they are not immediately available.

On a personal note, this topic reminds me of the time I signed up for a philosophy course entitled Love and Relationships.  Of course I thought we would explore our ideas of love and discuss relationships for 15 weeks. Instead we discussed Socrates, Plato, Shakespeare and other enlightened philosopher’s definition of love written in a very difficult way for me to understand.  Immediately I wanted to drop the class, because it was not the “love” story I thought it would be.  However, I needed a philosophy course to fulfill my graduation requirements.  I had to determine why I wanted to drop the course, what would be the alternative, and why I wanted to run from the course.  In the end, I stayed in the class.  It was not the most fun I have ever had in the classroom, but I stayed with it, gave it my best, communicated with the professor when I struggled, and passed the class in the end allowing me to be eligible for graduation.

Trust me when I say you are not alone when considering if you want to drop a class. Wanting to drop a class is a normal feeling. You want to make sure you are dropping the class for the right reasons and before the deadline.  If you can, meet with your advisor and allow them to assist.  College is all about challenging you and pushing you to become a different version of you. So do not shy away from a challenging class it could turn out to be the ONE class that forces you to see life differently.

I see dollar signs.  As we wrap up the final few weeks of the Spring semester, most people think of finals, moving out of the residence halls, scheduling classes for next semester, graduation, and summer fun.  I agree I too think of these things but with all of these changes comes the idea of MONEY!!!!

As students prepare to graduate, for next semester, or for the summer there could be a possible change in their employment. Now is a good time to visit your favorite on-campus departments, offices, or eateries.  Inquire about any potential job openings that may be opening up during the summer or for next school year. Another option is to check the student employment website or office (sometimes located within the Financial Aid Office) to see if anything has become available. The summers along with graduations often result in hundreds and thousands of students fleeing back home. However, it will also mean students away at school fleeing back home where your school is located.  Start early by putting in applications and stopping by local establishments letting them know you are looking for employment.

Most businesses welcome college students, because they know students have a unique background, varying knowledge, and have relatively low needs. However, be sure to accurately sell yourself. Treat each interaction as an interview; sometimes stopping by results with an on-the-spot interview. Pay extra attention to your appearance, your presentation (application, resume, interview), and your overall professionalism.  Although you may be a low maintenance employee you do not want to come across as a liability.  Employers want someone who appears to be mature, serious, and long term.

This is the time to buckle down and focus on finishing the semester strong, but it is also the time to get an early start on employment for the summer and the Fall semester. Use this time wisely and avoid the rush.