Tips for Recent College Graduates: From Undergrad to Graduate School
These thoughts are mostly directed for recent college graduates because it is something I can most relate to, having graduated in May 2012. Nonetheless, these suggestions and reflections apply across the board to anyone considering applying or attending Teachers College. I hope they offer some positive guidance for those new to Teachers College.
As a senior at Connecticut College during the 2011-2012 school year, I was trying to balance many different commitments like most of you who will soon or have already graduated. Between completing those last requirements for my majors, completing my independent research projects, attempting to stick with some hobbies that I was passionate about, and trying to squeeze in a social life, I realized at some point, as most college students do, that my future was not going to figure itself out. While many of the students at Teachers College come from several years of experience in various fields related or not related to what they choose to study here, it appears that an equal amount of the students are fresh out of college. I found it difficult during my last months of undergrad to figure out what life after graduating should entail. (Who really has time to do that anyways?) Similarly, my experiences had mostly revolved around studying and school-related activities. How was I to pick a career when I couldn’t yet pinpoint what it is I knew I wanted to do? For those of you who can relate, I think this is both a challenging yet important predicament to begin considering. At the same time, looking back, the decision on what to do next is one we all will be faced with constantly throughout our lifetime. What you decide to do next does not, and most likely will not, define what you will being doing forever.
Additionally, I recently read a pretty interesting article by Reid Hoffman that provides advice for highly successful graduates. The author is the creator of the professional social networking site, LinkedIn. First off, from my background in working with career services in college and at Teachers College, I ensure you that an account on LinkedIn provides anyone, young or old, whether you are right out of college or have years of experience in your field, with access to an unlimited number of networking opportunities. Based on the philosophy that at least one of your current friends, family members, colleagues, or acquaintances knows someone who can push you ahead in your field or at least offer professional wisdom and advice, LinkedIn coincides with one of the author’s main suggestions for graduates – build your networks! As much time as my introverted self spent worrying behind my computer to determine possible job options for my bachelor’s degree before ultimately deciding on teaching, I wish I had spent the same amount if not more time just talking to people about what I wanted to do. For anyone planning their future, conversing with others may help bring supposed outlandish ideas into a more realistic plan; on the flip side, you may also discover if you are just limiting yourself with the career options you alone have come up with. The bottom line, whether you’re absolutely confident on the path you chose or are worried you’re about to take the plunge into something you’re not quite sure about, connect with someone and talk it out. When I was faced with the challenge of deciding between Teachers College and another institution for graduate school, I definitely discussed the pros and cons with numerous peers and professors. In addition to building your professional networks, two other quick points that I would like to highlight from the author’s article is, first, to realize their own competitive edge and, second, take educated risks. For more elaboration of the author’s suggestions and just an interesting read, you can find the full article at:
For those of you who will be beginning their studies at Teachers College this summer or fall, I enthusiastically extend my advice to take on as many opportunities to meet new people. From the first day of orientation where you will be interacting with people from all different programs to the various professional and social events planned by the Student Senate and TC faculty, you should expect to meet plenty of people who are interested in similar topics as you. It’s all about making that first effort to branch out from your initial social group that you form in the first couple of weeks and the long study sessions in the quiet surroundings of the library (Though, the library can often surprisingly serve as a socializing environment as well!). This is something I wished I dedicated more time to do this past year and will surely make more of an effort to commit to before graduating. You may find that you learn a great deal about yourself and your interests when you are talking to people outside of class.