12 Most Responsible Things to do Before Graduating

Jun 06 2012

So you’ve finally made it to graduation. The big day is upon you, and probably all you can think of is either leaving high school for college, going into grad school, or leaving academia altogether and entering the “real world.” Graduating is a major transition at any stage — it’s also an exciting time with many changes about to take place!

But before you walk across the stage and receive your diploma, here are the 12 most important things you need to do.

1. Smooth your surfaces

Maybe you haven’t always been nice to everybody at school. While there’s undoubtedly things you’re eager to leave behind, it does wonders for you — and others — to take this chance before you leave to make things right, so you can embark on your journey with a clean slate.

2. Define relationships

Transitions can be tough on any relationship. Will you maintain the relationship? Will you continue to be exclusive, or do you plan to see other people? It’s better to figure it out now than to be surprised and hurt by a difference in perspective later.

3. Preserve bridges

Identify the people at your school and community who have influenced you and could potentially assist you in your future. Get the email addresses of these people. Send them holiday cards and updates on your life. By maintaining these relationships now, you’ll be helping yourself later.

4. Decide what to bring, and what to let go

College is often seen as a fresh start. Even if you attend a local college with a chunk of your high school classmates, most people won’t know who you are, what you did or what you’re like. Before you step into a new world where you’ll have to make yourself all over again, decide what’s worth bringing and what’s worth leaving. Bring your personal philosophies, your best qualities, your funny stories, and your dreams. Leave behind your awkward moments, your bad relationships, and your failed tests because who you were won’t matter, but who you are does.

5. Try every pursuit you can

Even near the end of high school, chances are you’re not sure where you’ll end up in the future. Countless career paths exist out there, and to have found your calling in the town that you grew up in is very rare. That’s why you need to be pro-active about finding what excites you. Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was almost 40. Stan Lee didn’t start drawing superheroes until he was 43. Do you really think that you know what you’ll want to do with your life by the time you graduate? I don’t think so. So take advantage of your school activities and try some new things before graduation.

6. Don’t push your family away

I know it seems like the “rebellious” thing to do, but as high school graduation approaches, you need to remember who is really important: your family. This may come as a shock, but spoiler alert: you probably aren’t going to be friends with the same people after you have graduated. But your family will always be there. And as you graduate high school and possibly move away to college, you are going to be seeing them a lot less. So it’s crucial to take advantage of the time you have when you can.

7. Enjoy your youth

The most important “must do” to remember is to keep yourself grounded. Many high school students end up taking themselves way too seriously by the time they graduate. That’s fine to do in moderation, but you have to remember something: this is most likely the last time you have little to no real responsibilities.

8. Get your transcripts

Whether it is to secure a summer internship or even a job, many places will ask you for your college transcripts. Even a few years down the line you may be asked to provide them to your future employer. If you have moved far away from your alma mater, getting your transcripts can be a time-consuming effort; going through your registrar and then waiting for them to come in through snail mail can eat up valuable time. So before you leave, make sure to head to your registrar’s office and grab a few copies of that transcript!

9. The all-important recommendation

Before you can even get an interview with many employers you sometimes have to submit a letter of recommendation. While this could be from a past employer, sometimes you are required to have a previous teacher or professor vouch for you. Don’t wait until an application deadline to ask for this recommendation — do it now while these people still know how great you are. And while you are with your professor, make sure to cultivate your relationship.

10. Turn in your keys and pay those fines

No one wants to go to graduation and find that their diploma is being withheld because they didn’t pay a fine. Make sure you have paid your library fees and turned in your keys. Double and triple check that you don’t have any academic holds on your file that could prevent you from getting that coveted diploma! Believe me, this happens more often than you think.

11. Visit your career center

Whether you have a job secured or not post-graduation, it can’t hurt to check out your career services department. It’s their job to help you become a more attractive candidate while job hunting and they are more than happy to critique your resume.

12. Utilize social media

One of the best things you can do while in school is “brand” yourself and have a strong online presence. Whether it is through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you need to be visible online. Before you graduate college, make sure you get a Twitter account if you don’t have one, and sign up for LinkedIn. Many employers post jobs on LinkedIn, giving you a heads up.

Did we miss anything? What are you doing to get ready for graduation day?