After four years of telling friends and family that I'll be graduating in the spring of 2020, there was a brief moment of New Year's Day panic with the realization that it is now indeed that long-anticipated year.
It feels like both 10 years and 10 months since I started college, but either way, I still have a lot of things to cross off my to-do list before I officially join the Miami University Class of 2020.
Invite your friends and family to your graduation
Maybe they asked you about it over the holidays, but your friends and family will need to know the date, time, and location of your graduation ceremony if you want them to come.
And if you don't even know that information, now is the time to look it up! Some schools also have a policy on purchasing commencement or graduation tickets or a limited number of guests you can have, so make sure you check in on that as well.
Find out when and how you get your cap and gown
Especially if you're vertically challenged like I am (and I'm less than five feet tall), you need to make sure that there's enough time for any alterations to be taken care of so that your gown fits properly.
Plan your graduation cap decorations
There are tons of Pinterest boards full of ideas for every theme, hobby, and interest you could imagine. I have an eclectic idea board of my own.
Or maybe the only decision you need to make is that you want a plain cap, which is perfectly fine.
Finish your college bucket list
My university has a lot of old traditions, like getting a toasted roll from Pulley Diner and not stepping on the Seal unless you want to fail your next exam, that I want to take advantage of (I am stepping on that Seal immediately after my last exam).
I also want to be able to say I visited every bar uptown at least once and attended a hockey game that we actually won. If your school has a lot of similar traditions or superstitions and you have some remaining goals for your college social life, now's the time to knock those out.
Coordinate any graduation photos
After you've received your cap and gown, you and your friends might want to get together to snap some cheesy and nostalgic photos.
Spend as much time with your college friends as possible
Speaking of your friends, you might be in different cities, states, or even countries after graduation. It's not that you'll never see them again, but coordinating time together will be more difficult, and you'll definitely see each other less often than when you were roommates or in the same class together. Spend quality time with them while you can.
Check in with your academic advisor
You've (hopefully) already applied for graduation, but sometimes it's good to confirm with your academic advisor that you are indeed on track to graduate on time. I know I can't get that reassurance enough.
Figure out your post-graduation living situation
Maybe you've already got a job offer outside of your hometown, or maybe you just don't want to live with your parents and can afford to move out.
Now's the time to start researching alternative living situations so that you have plenty of time to find one that best suits your needs.
Feverishly apply for jobs or prep for your next level of education
There's a lot of pressure to figure out what comes next. If you don't have concrete plans or aren't 100 percent certain what direction you want to go in after graduation, that's OK! But if you're looking for a job, the first step is being proactive about applying.
If you're planning on going to grad school, med school, law school, or any higher level of education, it's time to really narrow down to your final decision on where you want to go and, per No. 8, where you'll live.
No matter what direction you're headed, it's not a bad idea to ask your professors for any professional or life advice they have for you. If any of your professors have become a mentor over the past few years, this is prime time to connect with them before you leave. Stop by their office hours or email and ask if they want to get coffee.
While you might have an easy course load in the few months leading up to graduation, school and all the extracurricular responsibilities you juggle can still be stressful. Make sure you're still taking time for yourself!
Don't take a moment of this last semester for granted.
I asked my friends who've already graduated what their post-college advice was, and one of them said, "Don't leave!" Maybe college was the best four years of your life, and maybe it wasn't, but either way, it's a unique and impactful time.
You'll never experience anything like it again, so don't spend this last semester in a daze just trying to get through. You have a whole post-college lifetime ahead of you: take this last semester slowly.
To be totally honest, this is all just a reminder to myself of everything I need to do in the coming months. But we're almost to the finish line, and I'm sure that we'll be throwing those beautifully decorated caps in the air before we know it.