Senior year is here. Before you know it, you’ll be slipping on your cap and gown, accepting your diploma, and celebrating four amazing years with your BFFs. Not sure if you’re ready for life after college? You still have lots of time to make this the best year yet. Set yourself up for success by doing these four essential things during your senior year of college.

Take a Class That Expands Your Horizons

During the first few years of college, your class schedule is usually packed with courses you need for your major. But when you’re a senior, you probably have at least a couple of spare time slots. Why fill them with snooze-worthy classes?

Instead, enroll in a course that takes you out of your comfort zone. Learn the basics of coding, or try performing arts on for size. You might not land on a new career path, but you’ll definitely learn something new and have a more well-rounded perspective.

Make Friends and Form Connections

As a senior, you already have a solid squad. You grab dinner with your BFFs after class, go out with them every weekend, and offer laughs and support around the clock. But having an amazing crew doesn’t mean you should stop putting yourself out there.
During your senior year, get strategic. Make friends with that super-ambitious girl at the top of your class or that guy who landed an internship at your dream company. Form deeper connections with professors. Start building out your network now, and you’ll have great connections to draw on later.

Rack Up Some Work Experience

In your last year of college, getting decent grades and squeezing in time with your crew might seem like all you can handle. Adding a job to the mix can sound like way too much. Without work experience, though, you might not truly know what you want to do after you graduate. Think of your college job as a key step in creating a life plan that makes you happy and your parents proud. Not sure where to start? Talk with friends, professors, or even your college’s career services office to learn about internships or entry-level gigs that offer essential work experience.

Rethink Your Online Life

When you’re living your best life in college, it’s easy to focus on having fun. Over the course of three years, your social media profiles might look like one long party. While there’s nothing wrong with having a great time, remember that the content you post online could influence your future employers’ hiring decisions. After all, they want to make sure you’re a capable person who’s an asset to their team.

Even if you hate the idea of censoring yourself, do a basic audit of your online life. Put your best foot forward with photos and content that make you look like a rock star to the general public. Save the rest for family, friends, and everyone else that makes the cut behind your privacy settings.

Your senior year is arguably the most important in your college career. Do it justice by adding these four essential tasks to your to-do list.

Meal plans are expensive, so many students have no choice but to handle grocery shopping and cooking on their own. But don’t fret. It’s possible to survive without a meal plan — even if it will be your first time purchasing food on your own and cooking it.

Get Some Basic Cooking Supplies

To master cooking on your own, you need some basic supplies. Pick up some pots and pans, a can opener, a cutting board, knives, measuring cups and spoons, a mixing bowl, a slotted spoon and spatula, and flatware. If your dorm or apartment doesn’t have a microwave and toaster, bring those appliances.

Extras like a blender or juicer aren’t essential, but they can help you add some healthy variety to your diet. Plus, smoothies are easy to grab in the morning if you’re in a rush. Invest in some plastic food storage containers as well. This will help you store seconds and eliminate the need to wrap extras in foil or zip-close bags.

Keep in mind that if you have a small room or will be hand-washing dishes, it may be easier to only get enough bowls, plates, pots, and pans for one day of cooking. This will reduce clutter and force you to clean up after each meal rather than letting dishes pile up.

Invest in a Good Coffee Maker

If you like coffee, a good coffee maker is essential. Coffee from cafes is expensive, and preparing your own brew at home is easy and a fraction of the cost. Plus, your coffee maker can also brew loose leaf tea.

Conquer the Grocery Store

Create a list of the groceries you need, and head to the store early in the morning or late at night to beat the crowds. Consider making trips to the store once per week and only picking up what you need for that week. This will eliminate clutter, and it will reduce the likelihood of food being wasted before you can eat it.

Master Spices and Veggies

If you’re on a budget, spices and veggies can take your meals to the next level. For example, you can prepare ramen noodles with some spices and squash, mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes. Mix in some crunched-up tortilla chips and add a dollop of sour cream to turn soup or ramen from plain to impressive.

Prepare Your Meals for the Week

If you have the time, preparing future meals and freezing them can make cooking for yourself much easier. For example, instead of preparing a single helping of chicken and pasta, you can prepare enough for a few days and freeze the extras in plastic containers. You’ll just need to grab the container from the fridge and microwave it.

This strategy is also good for smoothies. Prepare a large batch and store it in a pitcher. For breakfast a few days out of the week, you’ll just need to pour a glass and pick out some fruit or a pastry to complete your meal.

Surviving without a meal plan may seem like a challenge, but it’s a great opportunity to exercise your independence and save some money. Follow these tips, and you’ll grow to love preparing your own meals every week.

It happens to the best of us. Exam week seems so far away, and there’s all the time in the world to study — until suddenly there isn’t. Cramming is now the only option. To make the most of your cramming sessions, make sure to avoid these three study habits.

Rereading Your Notes

You’ll need to study your notes, of course, but you won’t remember much by simply rereading them. Rereading helps with recognition but not recall. If you want to ace your exams, you’ll need to use a different study method.

People remember information more easily when they process it on a deeper level. To do this, you can rewrite the material in a way that makes sense to you. You could also explain facts and concepts — in your own words — to a study partner. It may feel like you’re spending more time than usual on each topic, but you’ll remember far more this way than by skimming through your notes.

Cramming Way Too Late

There’s regular cramming, and then there’s last-minute-panic cramming. If you’ve waited until the day of your exam to start studying, your anxiety will go through the roof. The more stressed you feel, the more difficult it is to remember anything. Another common mistake students make is staying up late cramming the night before. You might be able to pull it off, but you’ll be sleep-deprived during the exam, and your performance will suffer.

Try to set aside a reasonable amount of time to cram for an exam. You’ll need more study time for the more difficult exams or for the classes you’re most behind in. Giving yourself one or two extra days to study (even if you really need another six days) can make the difference between passing or failing.

Studying Too Long in One Session

If your exam is only a day or two away, you may feel you have no choice but to study for eight hours straight. However, you won’t retain much information this way. Most students can only study for 25 to 30 minutes before their concentration falters. If you have a limited amount of time to study, you want to use that time as efficiently as possible.

Break up a longer study session into smaller, multiple periods of 25 to 30 minutes. Take breaks of at least 15 minutes between each study period. Do something you enjoy on your break, such as grabbing a snack or going for a short walk. According to Dr. Marty Lobdell, a psychology professor, it’s possible (with training) to extend your study-time endurance to an hour or even several hours. Unless you’ve already trained yourself, however, it’s better to keep your cram sessions short and frequent.

Even though it’s better to avoid cramming altogether, sometimes it happens anyway. The next time you find yourself short on time, make sure to set aside more study time for the most difficult classes, study your notes on a deeper level, and take regular breaks during your cram session.