Graduation is an exciting time for any college student. You feel a sense of loss as you prepare to leave your college home but you’re also excited about what the future might hold. When you clear out your dorm room or off-campus apartment, consider tossing out (recycling, passing on to friends, or selling preferably) these unnecessary items to make room for the things you’ll need to start your professional career.

Plastic Furniture and Storage

While you’re in college, it’s perfectly acceptable to fashion a bookshelf out of milk crates or to use an empty ice chest as a coffee table. Now that you’re leaving undergrad life behind, however, it’s time to ditch the plastic furniture and storage in favor of more attractive (and sturdy) options. You don’t have to break the bank; consider a trip to Ikea or a local thrift store to find affordable alternatives.

Tacky Art

The Van Gogh calendar and edgy movie posters seemed cool when you first set up your dorm room four years ago, but they’re a little silly after you leave college life behind. The posters probably have torn edges anyway, or faded colors, so feel free to pass them down to a freshman without any art on his or her walls.


Not only are textbooks unnecessary after graduation, but they’re also heavy and they take up considerable space. Besides, selling back your textbooks will put some much-needed cash in your pocket. Consider sources other than the campus bookstore, such as online forums, if you want to maximize your profit.

Branded Swag

When you’re thoroughly enmeshed in the campus lifestyle, you start to collect swag that bears the university’s logo, mascot, and other symbols. Now that you’re heading into the real world, it’s best to leave behind the koozies, thermoses, hoodies, foam fingers, coasters, and other branded merchandise. Save a couple of your favorite items and find someone to take the rest off your hands.

Old Paperwork

You’re feeling nostalgic now, so you’ve convinced yourself you can’t throw away your freshman English syllabus because you’ll want to look upon it fondly for years to come. Resist the urge to keep every document your four years of academic study have generated. If you won’t use it for graduate school or to reference at work, recycle that paper!

Bath Tote

The days of padding down the hall to the communal bathroom are over, so you don’t need that bath tote anymore. You can also get rid of your backpack (unless it’s a neutral color and in good shape) and your miniature refrigerator (unless you want it for your next home).

Foam Mattress Topper

You bought it on sale because you were tired of the uncomfortable dorm room mattress. Over the years, the egg-crate surface has flattened and lost its poof. You’ve moved it in and out of campus housing for four years, so it’s time to kick it to the curb.

It’s sometimes hard to let go of your favorite college possessions. Ditching the above seven items, however, will free up space for your grownup apartment.

With some professors, you’re eager to forget their names the moment you walk out of the final exam. Others, however, you always want to remember as they inspire you to try harder, achieve more, and pursue new endeavors. As you get ready to leave school, you might want to thank those professors who made your university life better; but how do you express your gratitude on a limited student budget?

Write a Note

When today’s students want to express themselves, they send a text or fire off an email to the recipient. However, a handwritten note requires more time, thought, and energy, which makes it more special. However, it doesn’t require any cash (as long as you have paper and a pen handy), so it won’t eat into your budget. Share an anecdote or express your gratitude in the note, then mail it via the postal service or hand-deliver it to your professor’s office. Just make sure you write legibly. Feeling creative? Make your not into a card.

Buy Office Supplies

If you paid attention in class (of course you did!), you might have noticed what office supplies your professor preferred to use. Maybe he or she had an unnatural love for different colors of dry erase markers, or perhaps your favorite professor was always marking passages in books with sticky notes.

An office-supply gift might not offer the most appealing option, so think about your professor’s tastes and habits. If you know he or she always carried a cup of tea through the school’s corridors, a new mug or set of teacups might offer a better alternative.

Make a Donation

Many professors support specific causes. Maybe your favorite teacher frequently discussed a particular charity or cause that was close to his or her heart. Consider making a small donation — even $5 or $10 — in your professor’s name, as it’s a kind and thoughtful way to express your gratitude as you embark upon the next phase in your life.

Gift a Potted Plant

You can pick up a flower or plant at the supermarket for less than $15, but it makes a great gift. Your professor can take it home or keep it on campus, depending on his or her preferences. If you know that your favorite teacher has a somewhat black thumb, go with a plant of the hard-to-kill variety, such as a succulent.

Get Busy in the Kitchen

If you’re an aspiring gourmet chef, hit the kitchen to thank your favorite professor. A tin of cookies or a tub of dip might not last forever, but your teacher will appreciate your thoughtfulness and enjoy a delicious snack when he or she goes home. Are you lacking culinary skills? A gift basket with edible treats might offer a more realistic solution. You could also gift a bag of your professor’s favorite coffee or a small gift card to a favorite restaurant.

Many professors sacrifice their time and energy to give every student an opportunity to succeed. When a teacher makes an impression on you — the good kind, anyway — expressing your gratitude right before graduation sends a powerful message.


Your graduation ceremony is behind you, and you’re ready to plan your next move. Perhaps you’re considering moving to an employment hotspot or taking a year off to pursue an internship abroad. However, there’s another great option you might not have considered: living with your parents. Reasons like these encourage nearly half of 18- to 24-year-old college graduates to live in their family homes after the big day in May.

It’ll Help You Save Some Money and Pay Back Student Loans

If you’re like 69 percent of recent college graduates, you’re up to your eyeballs in debt. According to the Institute of College Access & Success, the average college graduate in 2014 needed to repay $28,950 to clear their student loans. How do you plan on doing that if you’re paying for rent, food, utilities, and more?

Even if you’re lucky enough to graduate debt-free, you probably don’t have a nest egg behind you. You’ll need this when you move into your own place because you’ll be expected to pay for the first and perhaps the last month’s rent, a security deposit, and movers. Then there are all the costs of daily living to consider, such as groceries and utility bills. Even if you score an entry-level job, meeting those expenses is challenging for most recent graduates.

Most parents will happily charge their kids a nominal amount for room and board. This will allow you to save the money you need to get on your own two feet.

It’ll Give You a Place to Be While You’re Looking For Work

The Global Financial Crisis may be far behind us, but it’s still affecting the employment prospects of young graduates. A 2015 report published by the Economic Policy Institute found that 7.2 percent of young college graduates are unemployed. A further 14.9 percent are underemployed, or employed in jobs beneath their qualifications. You might have studied to be an engineer or lawyer, but in reality you could find yourself waiting tables or working a cash register until you find work in your field.

Living with your parents can be a great safety net while you’re looking for work in your chosen field. Parents tend to be more understanding about long stints of unemployment and times when money is tight than flatmates. It’s also much easier to focus on finding a job when you don’t have to worry about your next meal or keeping the power on.

You’ll Be Close to a Great Support System

Adjusting to life after graduation can be challenging. You’ve lost your usual routine and the social opportunities it provided. You’re faced with the reality of finding full-time work and making the transition from college kid to full-blown adult. All these challenges can take a real toll on your mental health. Your parents will often be your greatest cheerleader when you’re feeling down. If you’ve got siblings at home, you’ll also benefit from their company during this challenging time.

Living with parents isn’t always a bed of roses, but there are such compelling reasons why it makes sense after graduation so don’t rule it out before giving it serious consideration and talking it through with your family.

Summer might seem like the perfect excuse to travel or to work on your tan, but it’s smarter to use your downtime pursuing an internship. A National Association of Colleges and Employers survey found that candidate experience plays a key role in hiring decisions for 95 percent of employers. Nearly half of employers want the experience of new graduates to come from internships or co-op programs. The Collegiate Employment Research Institute’s Philip D. Gardner said most employers won’t even view the resumes of candidates without internship experience. But where do you find an internship? These websites are the perfect places to start.

YouTern: Internship Site Powered By Interns

YouTern uses high-tech matching software to pair your skills and career goals with the needs of the companies in its database. Take a few minutes to create your free YouTern profile and let the site find the internships that will suit you best. Who really has time to trawl through irrelevant internship postings anyway? As new opportunities arise, YouTern will send them to your email or smartphone so you don’t need to feel chained to the site. The Savvy Intern blog, part of the YouTern website, also has some useful advice.

Looksharp: Innovative Website for Internships and Entry-Level Jobs

Looksharp says it’s the largest online internship and entry-level jobs market targeted at students and recent graduates. Like YouTern, Looksharp encourages you to create a free profile so the more than 30,000 companies in its database can find you. This is easy with tools that can pull information from your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Facebook, Charles Schwab, and HP are among the organizations advertising internships through the site. Looksharp offers tools that help you refine your resume and cover letter and get advice about handling recruiters and interviews. Top-Rated Internship Site’s user-friendly interface and large pool of internship positions that represent all 50 states helped the company to be named as one of Forbes’ top-10 career websites. Anyone can browse positions, but you’ll need to sign up for a free account to apply for an internship. The clever search function makes it easy to filter results according to their compensation, location, employer type, and more. If you’re not sure what you want to do, take the Internship Predictor quiz, which can help you decide on the best internship for your personality.

InternJobs: Internship Site Backed by Leading Jobs Network

Part of the network, InternJobs has helped students and recent graduates find their ideal internship positions for two decades. While it charges businesses to list their opportunities, it offers its services to internship seekers for free. InternJobs is a global site, so if you’re looking for adventure, you might browse internship opportunities in Australia or Qatar! Of course, there are also plenty of positions close to home with organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity, Food and Water Watch, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Your next internship could be just a click away. Point your browser to these websites and start searching for your ideal opportunity.

You’ve tried to forget about your student loans over the last four years, but now that you’re ready to graduate, you have to face facts. A student loan exit interview prepares you for your first payment and ensures that you understand the rules and regulations you must follow going forward. Below are some tips to help you make the most of the interview and prepare yourself for repaying your student loans.

Resist the Urge to Skip It

While exit counseling might not seem like the most enjoyable way to spend your time as you prepare to leave college, don’t assume you can blow it off like a group study session. You’re required to participate in exit counseling if your loan came from the federal government, so resign yourself to this necessity.

Fortunately, it’s not a long or involved experience. You’ll meet a loan counselor on campus or take part in the interview online. Either way, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of your time. Afterward, you can meet your pals for coffee in the quad.

Make a List of Questions

Just like a job interview, a student loan exit interview goes both ways. Your interviewer will likely ask you questions and provide you with essential information, but you’re allowed to ask a few questions of your own. To ensure you don’t forget anything, make a list of questions to ask, such as:

  • When must I make my first payment?
  • How much will each payment cost?
  • How long will it take to pay off the debt?
  • Do you have multiple options for payment plans?

Take a pad of paper and a pen to the interview. That way, you can write down the answers to your questions. Alternatively, ask the interviewer for any literature he or she has, such as brochures or fact sheets. The more information you have, the better prepared you become.

Take Stock of Your Future

If you’ve already found a post-graduation job, you know how much you’ll earn each month. Federal loans often involve repayment plans that represent a percentage of your income. If you know this information now, you can start making plans.

However, even if you haven’t yet snagged a job, you can research the types of careers you might want to pursue. How much do entry-level jobs in your chosen industry pay? That will give you an idea of how to structure your finances in the future.

Provide Useful Contact Information

After you graduate, will you return to your parents’ home or move into a new apartment? It’s often best to provide a relative’s address until you find permanent housing. It’s also a good idea to set up a new email address. You’ll stop using your university email after graduation, and you’ll want your loan officer to have a convenient way to contact you.

Whether you took out federal or private student loans, the exit interview is an essential part of starting your new life after graduation. You’ll know exactly what to expect, which means the first bill won’t come as a nasty shock.

Yikes! You have a test coming up and you haven’t been as diligent about studying as you should have been. You plan to buy some super-caffeinated beverages, down some sugary snacks, and stay up all night dumping information into your brain. But is cramming really the best way to prepare for that exam?

Why Cramming Doesn’t Work

An article from the BBC explains, “Different parts of the brain support different kinds of memory … Just because your visual cortex is fluently processing your notes after five consecutive hours of you looking at them, doesn’t mean the rest of your brain is going to be able to reconstruct the memory of them when you really need it to.”

The same BBC article cites a study from researchers at the University of California who found that for 90 percent of participates, spaced-out learning (yeah, that’s learning over intervals, not spacing out while learning) was more effective than cramming. However, 72 percent of people in the survey claimed that they felt the cramming was more effective. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that cramming is the best way to prepare for a test.

Is Cramming Ever Effective?

“But,” you might say, “isn’t cramming better than not studying at all? There has to be some benefit to cramming.” Yes, cramming is not 100-percent bad. If you’re really desperate and your upcoming exam is going to be in a simple format — such as multiple choice or true and false — you might be able to memorize the facts you need in order to get a decent grade. You might not be able to fluently explain the information in an essay, but you could probably dredge up the basics from your study-exhausted brain.

To make the most of your cram session, refuse to get distracted by social media or by your study buddy who keeps insisting on a “Netflix and chill” break. Focus on learning concepts that you know will play a prominent part in the exam. Try not to cram through the night. If you’re well-rested for your test, you’re more likely to perform well.

You should also know your individual learning style. Facts are going to stick better if you absorb them in a way that is easy for your brain to process.

The Best Way to Study

So if cramming doesn’t work, how should you study?

  • Establish a good study routine and use highlighters to mark the most-important information. If you find some ideas to be particularly difficult, note these and review those subjects more often.
  • Try explaining what you learn in your own words. If you can correctly teach something to someone else, you can be confident that you’ve got the topic down.
  • If you’re short on time, review previous tests so you can anticipate the types of questions you might encounter. Try to come up with mnemonic devices for tricky concepts.
  • Stay positive. Stress can negatively affect your memory.

Cramming might be able to help you score a few extra points on an exam, but it really isn’t a good way to study. To perform at your academic best, start preparing for exams as early as possible.

Final exams create a whirlwind of activity as they send students into last-minute study groups and cramming frenzies. The problem, of course, is that each of your professors expects you to memorize a formidable list of facts and concepts and to be able to apply them under pressure. If you’re hoping to boost your memory in time for your tests, put these strategies to good use.

Engage Your Eyes

Reading a sentence over and over might not prove sufficient to commit the information to memory. Perhaps your brain needs more visual stimulation, which means creating a visual representation of the data. If you’re studying history, for instance, draw a timeline and fill in the dates and events or look at pictures of the events. For anatomy, try labeling anatomical figures. Find your learning style and embrace it!

Take Turns Teaching

Vocalizing information can also help boost your memory skills and engage the deepest regions of your brain. Consider getting together with a group of classmates and take turns teaching different sections of the material as though you’re sitting in class. Both the speaker and the listeners will benefit from expressing the information in their own words and hearing it in different ways.

If you don’t have a study buddy or group, use your phone or laptop to record yourself in the role of the teacher. Find a quiet corner on campus in which to record yourself reading back your notes or expressing concepts in fresh terms. When you play your recording afterward, you’ll hear the information anew.

Create Memory Clusters

Students often find it easier to absorb and process information when they organize data into clusters. For instance, chronological notes might not represent the best way to study history. Instead, group similar incidents and people together, then focus on one cluster at a time. Or instead of trying to learn all of the bones in the human body, concentrate on learning the long bones as a group and then teeth and so on. Break down information into smaller nuggets you can manage.

Develop a Better Diet

Late-night cram sessions often involve copious amounts of sugary (and caffeinated) beverages, fast food, and leftover pizza. Don’t fall into the empty-calorie trap, however, if you want to sharpen your memory. Reduce your meat intake and fill in the gaps with nuts, vegetables, fruits, and other foods that are high in memory-enhancing antioxidants.

In addition to improving your ability to recall information, a better diet will also keep your energy levels up while you’re preparing for finals. If you find yourself falling asleep with your can of Red Bull, it’s time to rethink your dependence on caffeine and sugar and to develop better college eating habits overall.

Set Up a Sentence or a Story

Mnemonic devices — memory techniques that use one kind of information to help you encode another kind — can work well in this regard. Create your strategy around your strengths. Learning about taxonomy for Biology class? Just remember that “King Philip came over from great Spain.” Wha?!!? Check it: Just that one sentence (an historical truth, no less) can help you remember the descending taxonomy of Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. Golden!

Developing a better memory can take time, but the above tips will sharpen your recall skills in a hurry.

The final research paper for a class might make up a large portion of your course grade, so it’s vital that you produce something you can be proud of. Writing a research paper is tough, however, so we’ve put together a brief guide on how to get through the process.

Start Early

Start on your paper as soon as you receive the assignment and set deadlines for when you want to have each phase of the process completed. For example, you should set a date for finishing your outline, for completing your rough draft, for your first round of revisions, etc.

Gather Your Sources

Whether you’ve been given a reading list or you have to do most of your research on your own, try to gather as many sources as you can before you start amassing information. Having a well-rounded selection will help you gain a comprehensive view of your subject. Your course textbook is a good place to start looking for basic facts. Be sure that each source you use, whether it is electronic or in print, is of high quality (yes Wikipedia is great but no it is not an academic source). Verify the credibility of both the author and the publisher and notice the date of publication. Some older books retain their relevance, but you should still check to see if there is a newer edition available or even new information that could replace or invalidate the old. One word of caution: this is a big project and you will find a lot of interesting information that may tempt you to pursue tangents. Stay focused on your topic.

Take Notes and Create an Outline

As you dig for information, take notes. Be sure that your notes are well organized. One option is to color code them according to source or subject, or if you’re using a software program for your notes, create headers for easier navigation. Get a few different colors of sticky notes so you can mark the places in books where you found information. After you have a basic understanding of your topic and you’ve collected some notes, put together an outline. In addition to jotting down the information you want to include in each section (and attributing the source), make notes about how long you want each section to be. This will ensure that you don’t end up with a lopsided paper.

Write Your Rough Draft

Use your outline to create a rough draft. As you write, think about things like whether the information flows the way you want it to and whether the voice you’re using is appropriate for the topic at hand. Don’t worry too much about details like grammar and punctuation; you can polish those things up in your final review. This is the time to make sure you avoid plagiarism. If you find a fact in your notes that you didn’t write down a source for, either find the source or use a different fact. Use attributions in the text, along with endnotes, to make sure you give credit where it is due.

Check Your Work

After completing your rough draft, have a peer look over the paper. A fresh set of eyes can point out flaws in logic and other errors that you might have become blind to. Then, go over your paper one more time to correct any minor issues related to format, syntax, grammar, or spelling. Remember that running spell-check is not the same as proofreading or editing.

Writing a research paper is tough, but it’s easier if you take your time and follow these logical steps.

Remember that one time you volunteered? You were probably busy all day and when you were done, you were exhausted but you felt great. You might not think there’s room in your schedule to make volunteering a regular part of your life, but there are some reasons you should try to squeeze it into your weekly or monthly routine.

Personal Satisfaction

Which causes matter to you? Perhaps you’re personally moved by animals that have been abused, people who lack food security or permanent shelter, or individuals who struggle with a particular illness. Get in touch with your cause and connect with an organization in your local community that would welcome your service. You’ll be able to have a meaningful share in something that really matters to you.

Your Health

Volunteering is good for you!

If you struggle with depression or low self-esteem, regular volunteering might be the boost you need to brighten up your outlook. Everyday Health cited a research paper that claims volunteering is connected to increased well-being, lessened depression, and even a reduced risk of dying. It is possible that volunteering is a mental-health super-medicine because of the social connections it helps you forge or simply because helping others usually comes with a sense of happiness.

Your brain isn’t the only part of your body that benefits when you volunteer. Many volunteer opportunities involve physical labor. Whether you’re cleaning up a local park, playing football with disadvantaged kids, or lending a hand at the homeless shelter, you’ll get some good exercise.

Build Relationships

Whatever organization you volunteer for, you’re bound to meet other individuals who share your passion for making a difference. This is a chance to form long-lasting friendships. Convince the friends you already have to join you in volunteering and you’ll probably connect more deeply with them as well. Having a circle of close friends is an essential part of maintaining a balanced life as a college student.

Your Career

Whether you’ve just started your undergraduate studies or you’re well on your way to obtaining an advanced degree, it’s never the wrong time to think about your career.

The relationships you build while you’re volunteering can lead to job opportunities. That person who is picking up litter next to you could be a manager at a local business or could have other connections that can put you at the front of the line for your dream job.

You may even be able to learn new skills as you volunteer and you can polish the skills you already have. Plus, employers like to see any type of volunteering on a resume. It shows that you’re an energetic person with a desire to help others. It also demonstrates your commitment to your community and your willingness to put yourself out there for something you care about.

Has it been a while since the last time you volunteered? Look at your routine. Maybe you could shuffle things around so you can spend one weekend a month or a few hours each week volunteering. You won’t regret it!

Your impending graduation might fill you with a mixture of excitement and dread. You’re excited because all of your hard work is about to pay off, but you might feel a little trepidation because you’re not sure how to prepare for what happens next. Use this checklist to ease your stress so you can focus on the joys of reaching graduation.

Network Like Crazy

Whether you want to take a summer to travel after graduation or dive right into the job market, now is the time to put out career feelers. Collect as much contact information as you can from your fellow students — particularly older students who already have job experience — as well as your professors and any professionals you know who work in your chosen field.

Build Your Professional Wardrobe

Yoga pants and basketball shorts are comfortable fallbacks for long study sessions, but if your wardrobe is all casual, it’s time to go shopping. Start your search now for clothing that you can wear to job interviews. If you have the money, you might even want to get a suit tailored to fit so you can really impress.

Polish Your Resume

Often, your resume is how you make a first impression on potential employers. Research what makes an effective resume, and think carefully about skills you can include. Past summer jobs as well as volunteer experience can enhance your resume. You may want to stop by the campus career center for help with refining this all-important document.

Research Places to Live

You might already have a favorite city in mind, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore your options. Research the job market and cost of living in cities across the nation, or across the world if you’re feeling adventurous. Be sure to also look at other opportunities in places where you’re thinking about moving. Perhaps there is a well-reputed volunteer program that could help you gain the experience you need to get into graduate school.

Prepare a Budget

You likely already have an idea of how much you’ll be making when you land your first job, and it might feel like you’ll be rich compared to your current budget. However, be careful not to overestimate what you can afford. Just because you’ll eke out enough money for that awesome downtown apartment doesn’t mean you should. Plan to have enough money to comfortably make all your payments each month and still have some left over for savings.

Manage Your Reputation

Companies often look at a job candidate’s social media accounts. If you have posts that show embarrassing moments from parties or otherwise portray you as unprofessional, delete those posts before you start sending out resumes. If your friends have posted unflattering information about you, ask them to delete it or, at the very least, untag you.

Enjoy Yourself

Senior year should be a time of celebration. You’re close to achieving a long-term goal! Forge deeper bonds with your classmates, go on weekend road trips, and attend parties. The memories will stay with you for a lifetime.

Don’t let the stress of graduation get to you. Start preparing now for post-college life so you can truly savor your accomplishments.