How to Plan for a GREAT Junior Year Hosted by Dr. James T. London and Genevieve Richards May 24, 2012
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For most of you, your sophomore year likely focused on: • Getting acclimated to the demands of college life (academic, social, personal) • Deepening your niche in campus life, academics, and support networks • Continuing your exploration of concepts and topics in academia, gearing up for your major’s upper division coursework, and/or weighing your choice of major • Personal development (intellectually, socially and introspectively) SOPHOMORE YEAR LOOKED LIKE…
BUT NOW…. CONGRATS! YOU MADE IT THROUGH YOUR SECOND YEAR!
Now that you’re getting ready to finish your sophomore year, it’s important that you begin planning for next year, especially, in these areas. • Major confirmation and transition to upper division course work • Post-grad planning and career focus • Developing your personal network • Extracurricular activities • Next summer opportunities • Time management Preparing for Junior Year
It might be harder to do than it seems. You’re not an underclassman anymore, so the pressure somewhat off. You’re not scrambling to keep up with the pace of college life. You know your way around your campus and its resources. You’ve got a better handle on who you are and who your support system is. • You’re likely to be way more comfortable this year, and there’s still time ahead of you before you graduate. You might feel like it’s all right to relax--but it’s not. • Junior is an incredibly important year. You are approximately halfway done with your undergrad coursework. In some cases, this is the last full academic year you have before applying for grad school or post grad opportunities. Then, it’s out the door and onto the real world, with a GPA that reflects your efforts junior year as well as all your other years of hard work. • Bottom line: Careful planning and follow-through in your junior year is critical to the success of your post-graduation plans. Avoiding The Comfort Zone in Junior Year
Junior year is not the time to get comfortable. • Competition for grad school programs and post-grad job opportunities is stiff. Employers and admissions officers are looking for candidates that are fully pushing themselves to take advantage of in-class and extracurricular opportunities Consider the following: • Professor research opportunities (field-specific) • Summer coursework • On/off- campus involvement and leadership • Internships • Study abroad Avoiding the “Comfort Zone”
Go to the Career Counseling CenterA visit to the Career Counseling Center might help clarify what post-grad directions available. Make an appointment to talk to a career counselor, discuss what types of careers are available and appealing to you. This might help you decide on post-grad directions. • See your academic advisorHaving an appointment with your academic advisor may help you rekindle a feeling of focus. The two of you can talk about your options for your major course of study, and the rest of college as well. If you feel yourself slacking off, tell your academic adviser you need help putting together a plan to get back on track. Focusing on Post-Grad Planning
Working as an intern is one of the smartest things you can do to improve your chances of finding a job that makes you happy once you graduate. As an intern, you’ll discover: • Whether you prefer working in a large organization or a small start-up • What type of work you prefer—for instance, the solitary focus of programming versus coordinating the efforts of many team members as a project manager • How your classroom experiences, from team projects to specific technical skills, translate to a real-world work environment • How people respond and react in real life contexts • It’s a good idea to start interning as early as the summer following your sophomore year. Finding an internship is similar to searching for a full-time job—you’ll need to put together a resume and interview with recruiters. Finding an Internship
Professors can provide a lot more than academic support. Beyond providing assistance for coursework and advising you on choosing classes, they can open the doors to internships and give you guidance in planning for your post-college career. • Contact your professors early in the term: If you don’t communicate with them early, chances are you won’t establish a connection. • Start with email: Meeting with your professors right away can be daunting, so get in touch with them initially via email. Send an email asking for advice about courses or for help with a topic that came up in class. • Go to office hours with a classmate: If facing your professor alone intimidates you, sign up for an appointment with a friend from class. Visiting together will make you both feel more comfortable. But, with or without a peer, it’s essential to meet with your professors. • Keep in touch: Even after the semester is over, maintain the connections you’ve built. As you approach graduation, professors may be able to assist you with job searching, writing letters of recommendation, and introducing you to industry contacts. Behr recalls how one of her economics professors introduced her to former students who majored in the same area she did, who could offer her insight into her academic career choices and post-college options. Building Your Network with Professors
Get the “big picture.” Don’t just plan out your semester. Plan out a road map of checkpoints and goal for the next few years. • Carefully manage coursework deadlines, assignments and exams. Junior year is a key year in your college career. While you may get the benefit of the doubt for a not-so great performance in freshman and (maybe) sophomore year, employers and admissions officers will be less forgiving about underperformance in junior year. • Schedule time commitments carefully. School comes first, but you’ve got to make time for other draws on your time as well. Family, work, extra-curricular and social time commitments are realistic features of your schedule. Don’t neglect to account for them when mapping out your personal schedule in the short and long term. • Get an idea of “crunch periods”. This will give you an idea of how far in advance you need to plan. Junior is year is booby-trapped with potential for crunch periods. • Make a weekly and yearly schedule of deadlines based on your needs: • Keep up with deadlines for class and post grad planning efforts. Taking test prep courses, applying for scholarships, having a usable resume, getting letters of recommendation all have long range deadlines that can quickly creep up on you. You don’t want to have to scramble for critical pieces of your plan. Plan early, revisit often and regularly revise your schedule of deadlines so that you don’t lose track of your timeframe or impending obligations. Time Management
Thank you! If you have any personal questions or concerns that you would like to have addressed one-on-one, please do not hesitate to reach out to Dr. London at email@example.com or Genevieve at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember that we are here for you and will do our best to help you work through any issue you need to talk about or help with.