It Was All A Dream: 10 Ways To Make Your Senior Year Of College The Most Memorable

by Mary Rebecca Harakas

I graduated from college a few mere weeks ago, and in that time, I have reflected on my previous four years, cried over old photos, laughed at my stash of random sorority items and thought to myself, “Is there anything I would have done differently?”

In short, the answer is no. There isn't anything I regret about my college experience or think I could have done differently. I joined a sorority, dated a few guys, enrolled in a range of classes, traveled, attended sports games, regularly socialized with friends and developed networking skills for potential internship and job opportunities.

The summer before my senior year, I created a senior bucket list and I am proud to announce that I accomplished almost every task on it, which ranged from “take a weekend road trip to Charleston” to “visit a fortune teller.”

In addition to the bucket list, which I created just for fun, below is a list of things you should consider before your senior year.

Although it is a mix of bucket-list-esque items and items with real value, know that no senior year is perfect. Senior year is emotional, full of fun nights out, the last of final exams, epic spring break adventures, job applications and missing friends while you’re still with them.

Take the following items into account to have the most memorable senior year possible.

1. GPA matters, only if you want it to.

I have been through countless interviews for both internships and job opportunities. Never (seriously, never) has an employer ask for my GPA.

Regardless of the fact that I received my BA in English and History and most opportunities that employ people with these majors are subjective and could care less about numbers, I realized that GPA reduces you to a mere number.

Most numbers-oriented majors like science and math do expect you to keep a stellar GPA and graduate school programs have GPA requirements.

The bottom line: If you're going to graduate school or are extremely competitive and need a number to prove how intelligent you are, then yes, go right ahead and ace that exam to keep a 4.0 GPA.

But if your career goals do not exist within these restrictive and often arbitrary numbers, it is okay to ease up. Your sanity will thank you.

2. Budget wisely.

Fall break and spring break trips, bar nights, Wednesday trivia, frequent liquor store trips... it all adds up. I experimented one semester by keeping a spreadsheet of all of my expenses from groceries and gas to bar nights and concert tickets, and I realized that my weekly babysitting check wasn't covering my expenses or allowing me to save.

Creating a budget and writing down your expenses will help you develop wise spending habits and prepare you for financial surprises. There is no guarantee that you'll graduate with a job lined up and money flowing in, so it is important to save as much as you can.

3. It is okay to let go of “friends.”

Between freshman and senior year, I developed friendships with all sorts of people and came to realize that some really were genuine friends, while others were just playing the role.

By my senior year, some friends frustrated me more than made me happy, some friends used me more than they reciprocated and some friends were just downright mentally exhausting more than they were uplifting.

I had the Flake, who bailed when she had better plans but called me when she didn't have plans; the Negative Nancy, who never saw positivity in anything; the One-Upper, who always cut down my successes to highlight her own; the MIA friend, who always responded to texts from guys to hang out, but never to those from me.

Aside from these “friends,” I cultivated some genuine friendships that will last a lifetime and realized that a few genuine friends are worth much more than any number of fake friendships. Let go of friends who frustrate, stress, or use you because you aren't of value to them, just as they aren't to you.

4. Use every networking opportunity.

Networking truly is the gateway to success. Many companies admit that they are more likely to hire a candidate who interned for them or one that an employee personally knows.

Networking allows you to enhance your interview skills, develop an "elevator pitch" and seek opportunities for internships or jobs. Develop connections with people at companies you’d like to work, reach out on LinkedIn and meet with employees for informational interviews.

All of these strategies show that you're interested in a company.

5. Create a college documentary.

I knew that I was in for an adventure my first weekend of freshman year. Everyone has their own “Welcome to College" moment and mine was at a frat party. I didn't know much about the unspoken rules of a fraternity party or that when you're talking to someone, he or she is likely to be drunk 90 percent of the time.

My friends and I had countless adventures like my first, helping two fraternity friends for their pledge task, towing my roommate's car, bar golf, spring break and a Christmas party none of us can remember.

Whether it is a blog, photo collage or video, keep up with some way to log your college adventures.

6. Make a trademark drink and playlist.

By your senior year, you will have likely figured out your drink of choice, so make a signature concoction that you can call your own. And, your favorite songs that you and your roommates listen to every time you all are getting ready for a night out? Make a playlist.

Sure, in a few years you'll probably think that the songs are uncool or outdated, but whenever you recreate that signature concoction or play the throwback playlist, the memories will return regardless of whether you’ve since moved to a new city and have started a new job or reunited with your friends at Homecoming.

7. Frequent the bars in different towns.

My friends and I would hit the bars in our college town and stereotype other colleges or neighboring towns as uncool, not good enough, whatever. Wow, was I wrong.

Whether it is a weekend road trip, neighboring college town or a big city nearby, venture into the bars and nightlife hotspots of unfamiliar areas. It will not only force you to acclimate to different environments (hey, not all bars are the same), but also expand your social skills.

Plus, you'll develop an even greater appreciation for your own college town.

8. Learn to balance the important things.

College is the time to explore new things, new interests and take on new challenges and adventures. It is also the time to learn to balance before getting into the real world in which work will consume most of your life and learning how to budget, live healthfully and still have a social life will consume the rest.

Make a conscious attempt to balance work and play, friends and family. Developing the habit now will only help you in the future.

9. Grasp some cultural enrichment.

We have all met certain people who are just downright boring. Carrying a conversation with a wall is more worthwhile than attempting to converse with these folks.

Cultural enrichment makes you more interesting, so travel, learn a new language, cook ethnic foods, visit museums and cultural festivals. Do whatever removes you from your comfort zone and puts you into a new world. Plus, knowing a little bit about a many things will make you able to talk about almost anything.

No one wants to be stuck in that awkward conversation at a dinner table in which everyone is discussing something you don’t know and you can't contribute to the conversation.

10. Everything will be okay.

College has its ups and downs and senior year is no exception. You are about to graduate with a college degree and the world is your oyster. Embrace the highs and lows, take lots of photos, stay up later than you should, go out with friends frequently, attend the sports games... do it all.

It is okay if you don't have a job lined up for immediately after graduation or you don't have five figures saved up or you're not as close with friends as you were freshman year.

Things will work out so long as you work hard and trust them to do so.

Photo via We Heart It