As a senior in college, I wasn't aware of the money, the time and the stress that would come along with graduation. After preparing for graduation, paying for everything and having several panic attacks, I've compiled a list of things every college student should know before becoming a senior.
1. Save up money for graduation
Not only is paying for college expensive, with the University of Washington's estimated undergraduate resident tuition being $3,754 for 10–18 credits in a quarter, not to mention if you live in Court 17, the University's on campus housing, undergraduate rates range from $2,451-$4,221 per quarter, it's a good idea to save a few extra bucks for graduation.
Cap, gown and your major's tassel are about $50 for undergraduates, a guaranteed expense for graduates. However, there are other expenses as well when it comes to graduation.
2. Don't do graduation announcements through the school
As a senior who has already gone through the graduation process, one option I had available was to have announcements made through the school. Simple, plain, university seal, and expensive!
Personally, I used Shutterfly. They came out looking professional and you are able to add your own personal touches to your announcements. Shipping however can seem a little bit expensive, but nowhere near how much it would be doing it through the school.
3. Have a friend or family member do your senior photos
If you have a friend that does photography, or even just owns a camera, do whatever you have to in order to get them to take pictures of you. Buy them coffee, lunch — just do something so they will take pictures of you, as it can save you money down the road. A nice lunch or a cup of coffee will be a lot cheaper than paying a professional photographer to take your photo. However, some people want it done professionally or not at all, but it doesn't hurt to save a buck or two when you can.
4. Register for graduation during your Winter Quarter
While you don't need to meet with an academic advisor until the beginning of Spring Quarter, every senior is going to be wanting to meet with them, and their availability is limited. Meet with them about half way through Winter Quarter, just to make sure your plan will work and you will graduate on time. If so, register for graduation. This will also avoid the crisis of advisors who decide to go on vacation or take a few days off and will be away from their emails while they are away.
5. Plan ahead for you guests
Walking at graduation is a choice. For those who choose to walk, it's a pretty big deal and a lot of graduates plan on having friends, family and loved ones in the stands to watch. Be sure ahead of time if anyone needs special accommodations. That way, this can be specified when ordering tickets or can be discussed with an advisor. It's your big day, make sure everyone can come!
6. You classwork will pile up
At the University of Washington, full time is considered 12 credits, which typically means students take three classes since most are worth five credits a course. Each class will have homework, quizzes, tests, midterms, projects, finals, possibly more. With registering for graduation, commencement and your last quarter all happening at once, things will start to feel like they are becoming too much. Be prepared and get organized to make it the easiest last quarter you can.
7. If you live on campus, move out little by little
Move. Out. Little. By. Little.
I can not stress this enough! With scheduled move out days, so many people will want to be moving out the same day as you, which means little parking and cramped elevators. If you move out of campus housing little by little during the last month or so during the quarter, you will only have to pack up what you were using until the last moment. Making moving day so much easier!
8. Make time for yourself
Making time for yourself is not selfish — it is key. Everyone needs a little bit of downtime to themselves, even the most social of butterflies. Make time to read, meditate, go for a walk, take a nap or two, make time for you! It gives you a mental break and you'll come back with fresh eyes and more motivated to get everything done on time!
9. It'll be fine!
While the world is crashing down, your GPA struggles and motivation goes out the door, I promise that everything will be alright! Take it one day at a time, take time to breathe and everything will turn out fine.
10. Have fun and make memories
While yes, you need to register for graduation, apply for commencement, pay for cap and gown, do your homework and study for tests, you're still in college. It is your last year, make it count! Go on that trip, go see that movie, meet that person, go to that event, make the most of your last year! There is no time like the present and for a lot of people, the undergraduate year in college is their last. Love life and make the most of it. Don't let deadlines become your life. Make time for friends, fun, and memories!