Parents & Family

Academics: Focusing on the Future

Graduation is so close and yet so far. For many students, this thought sums up the first semester of junior year. Meaningful coursework coupled with dynamic experiences like study abroad, internships and real-world research are exciting and rewarding.

Before long, senior year will be here. Now is the time to plan ahead. The next three semesters are key in your student's preparation for graduate school, employment, volunteer service or other opportunities he or she may be interested in pursuing upon graduation.

By now your student has declared a major. This focus enables him or her to direct coursework, experiential learning and co-curricular involvement to helping build a resume, curriculum vitae and/or career portfolio.

If your student hasn't chosen a minor, now is the time. Other important academic tips include:

  • Utilize BW's Graduation Plan, which facilitates timely graduation by creating an education plan for success. It's a web-based program that helps students plan courses for next term and beyond. It builds on the important relationship a student has with his or her academic advisor.
  • Make grades a priority. Employers and graduate school staff look at coursework and grades, among other things.
  • Begin researching graduate programs if considering that option. Look at the strength of the programs, requirements, deadlines and fees. Even if you plan to accrue employment or other experiences prior to submitting a grad school application, consider taking the Graduate Record Exams during senior year when you are still immersed in your academic work.
  • Secure career-related internships for junior and senior years. A student should have a minimum of three internships.
  • Meet with an academic advisor to review coursework. Be sure core, academic major and minor requirements will be met. Discuss plans for a senior thesis, capstone project or independent study, among other topics.
  • Have one or two career-focused mentors, such as a professor, off-campus internship coordinator and/or an associate in a professional organization.
  • Gain as much research, creative and scholarly experiences as possible.
  • Volunteer for an organization related to your major or minor, or secure one that enables you to expand your insights and skill set to a new area. Assume a leadership role in the organization.
  • Consider studying abroad or participating in a U.S.-based program for summer or senior year. A student can gain academic credit as well as remarkable, resume-boosting experiences.
  • Attend scholarly lectures and programs both on and off campus as a way to increase knowledge, network and accrue a possible internship or employment position.
  • Seek opportunities to attend and present papers at scholarly conferences. Look to exhibit or publish creative works in order to build a career portfolio.
  • Consider becoming a course assistant or a tutor for the Learning Center as a way to build teaching skills and assist peers.