Preparing for Senior Year

The fastest summer ever. Studying for graduate exams, visiting graduate schools, updating resumes and securing letters of recommendation—the list goes on and on.

The summer before senior year is so busy that students may wonder, "Am I really on break?" Nonetheless, it is the best time to prepare for senior year and beyond. To help your student get started, we've compiled a list of suggestions that address post-graduation plans.

  • Seek professional references by compiling a list of three to five professors, mentors, internship advisors and employers who would write strong, positive letters of recommendation. Ask permission first and then follow up by providing them with copies of your updated resume and curriculum vitae.

  • Visit BW Career Services to utilize resources and meet with a career advisor. Summer months are less busy than the school year and resources are more accessible.

  • Update resume, curriculum vitae and BW career network profile. Be sure these items are stellar in content and design. Contact Career Services if you need help. Create or update your professional portfolio—a collection of work you've created.

  • Hone interviewing skills by using Career Services' Perfect Interview, an online, simulated mock-interview program. Gain valuable feedback about your interview and additional strategies for success by meeting with a career advisor.

  • Network on and off campus by attending professional conferences, interning and volunteering. Use social media sites like LinkedIn. Expand contacts to include people whose fields directly and peripherally connect to your major or minor.

  • Intern or career shadow to gain multiple and diverse experiences.

  • Take a class. Night, weekend and online courses provide flexible learning opportunities to take classes that can build upon or round out your skill set.

Tips for students considering graduate school

  • Consider which degrees interest you.
  • Visit web sites to do a preliminary search of universities offering these degrees.
  • Develop a list of schools that interest you and do further research. Visit them if possible.
  • Determine tuition, living and other costs associated with each of the schools you're considering.
  • Learn about each school's assistantship/fellowship opportunities and how to apply.
  • Investigate financial aid for graduate school.
  • Talk to BW professors about your selection to get their input.
  • Determine which standardized exams are needed.
  • Prepare for the exam by reviewing study guides, taking practice tests and timing yourself, and seeking assistance if necessary.
  • Learn what is a competitive exam score by talking with BW professors or contact the school directly and inquire.
  • Register for the exam early because spaces can fill up. Many students take it in August or September to allow time for re-testing.
  • If possible, begin writing personal statements.
  • Create a to-do list and timeline for graduate school application and fellowship/assistantship deadlines. Some schools have both graduate school and individual department requirements and deadlines. Most deadlines range from December through February.