Around 37 percent of Americans attaining a bachelor’s degree will attend grad school and earn an advanced degree. With more Americans earning degrees than ever before, earning a master’s doctorate or another professional degree can give you a competitive edge over your peers. Tick the following things off your checklist as you prepare for grad school.

Organize Your Paperwork

The first day of grad school is not the time to discover important documents are missing or incomplete. Sort them out now for your peace of mind. Ensure your grad school has your completed student and financial aid forms. Sign and return any loan agreement or scholarship forms. If possible, establish your student account at the bursar’s office and make an early tuition payment. See your academic adviser and check whether there’s anything else you have overlooked. Knowing all these things are in order will help you feel more confident as the first semester approaches.

Research Your Curriculum and Professors

Some early research can also make grad school seem less intimidating. Browse through your syllabi and purchase the textbooks you’ll need. Familiarizing yourself with these books early will help you feel more confident about your advanced studies. Most schools publish student evaluations of professors and courses. These reports can help you make smarter decisions about your electives. Contact your admissions officer if you can’t find them.

Find Somewhere to Stay

While it might seem like an obvious item for your checklist, it’s one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Some graduate schools don’t have student housing. Some students feel their days of dorm living should be well behind them. Consider what you want and what you can afford. If your budget is tight, start your roommate search now.

Get a Job

If you’re not already working, you should be. A job will help you afford everything from your grad school accommodation to your textbooks. It will also prepare you for your career ahead by teaching you how to problem solve, work with others as part of a team, deliver good customer service, and more.

While jobs in your field, including internships, are advantageous, any work experience looks good on your resume, so don’t be afraid to look outside the box. Working as a summer camp counselor or bussing tables at a local restaurant is still beneficial. If your job is near your grad school, see whether you can still work part-time hours during the semester. Otherwise, a summer job might suit you best.

Set Clear, Achievable Goals

Too many students dive into grad school simply because they aren’t sure what else to do. Rather than traveling aimlessly through your education, setting clear and achievable goals should be part of your grad school preparation. This process will help give you purpose, focus your energy where it’s required, improve your motivation, and more.

Why are you attending grad school, what do you hope to achieve during your studies, and where do you want to end up after graduation? Answering these questions will help you set clear goals.

Preparing for grad school can be daunting, but methodically working through a checklist can help you transition from college with confidence.

Studying abroad offers an unparalleled opportunity to broaden your horizons. If you want to refine your foreign language skills, there’s no better way than immersing yourself in it. Between 2010 and 2015, the demand for bilingual workers in the U.S. more than doubled. Improve employability while nibbling pastries in Paris or gliding on a gondola in Venice? Yes, please! Find out how to squeeze the absolute best from your study abroad program so you can enjoy all the perks this experience has to offer.

Keep a Budget

Participation in a study abroad program can come with a hefty price tag. In addition to your tuition and administrative fees, you may also have expenses associated with textbooks, school supplies, and other materials. It’s important that you take your regular living expenses into account as well. Make sure you understand what’s included as far as meals, laundry facilities, and accommodations.

Once the basics are taken care of, you’ll want to have some extra funds on hand to truly enjoy the culture and country. This could include money for transportation, dining out, attractions, and souvenirs. Plan carefully so your budget will last for the duration of your stay.

Befriend the Locals

It’s easy to fall into step with the other American students studying abroad with you, but you should make an effort to expand your social circle. You’re missing out on an incredible opportunity if you don’t make some local connections during your stay. If you’re living with a host family, they might be able to introduce you to students in your age range. Your study abroad program may offer some opportunities to make new friends through excursions and other activities. You may have to step outside your comfort zone, but it’s well worth the effort.

Enjoy the Cultural Flavor

When you’re participating in a study abroad program, the goal is to experience the country like a local, not a tourist. Don’t restrict yourself to well-known highlights and Americanized restaurants. Veer away from the familiar, and find out what residents like to do in their free time. Ask your host family about little-known adventures in the area. Seek out the small, family-owned restaurants and attractions that tourists rarely find. There you’ll experience the true flavor of the country.

Take Side Trips

In many destinations, you have the unique opportunity to visit multiple countries with only a few hours of travel time. You can travel Europe easily by bus, train, or car. Budget airlines are an option as well if you’re covering longer distances. Compare the price of a plane ticket between London and Paris to the expense of traveling all the way from the U.S. to France, and you’ll see why this is such an opportune time to maximize your travels. Plan exciting excursions on the weekends, or extend your trip a few weeks beyond the conclusion of your study program.

Studying abroad is a valuable experience that belongs on every college student’s bucket list. With proper planning, you can make the most of your journey and enjoy memories that will last a lifetime.