Tag Archives: graduation

5 Ways to Prepare for Your College Graduation

After four years of late-night cramming sessions, a grueling class schedule, too many term papers to count and lots of hard-core partying, the big day is finally within sight. Graduation! You can hardly wait to toss your cap into the air and start making your mark in the big wide world.

As you count down toward graduation, don’t forget to check off these important tasks you’ll need to tend to before you can get your diploma.

1. Put your papers in order

Don’t celebrate the end of college paperwork just yet! Before graduation, you’ll need to submit an application to graduate. You may also need to officially confer your degree. These steps can differ in each school, so find out what your particular requirements are before the end-of-term rush.

2. Polish your resume, cover letter and portfolio

Hopefully, at this point, you’ll have already written up your resume and cover letter and organized your portfolio. During these last few months in college, take the time to perfect these gateways to the working world. Ask a few friends to read through your resume and cover letter and check them for typos and inconsistencies.  You can also show these documents and your portfolio to a career counselor at your school to ask for professional tips on making them shine.

3. Find a summer job or a paid internship

It isn’t easy to find that first post-college job. But, whether you’ve landed the perfect position for next year or you’re still hunting for a job, the clock starts ticking on that student loan debt as soon as you graduate. If you won’t be starting your new job until fall, or you haven’t found one yet, it’s best to accept a temporary summer job or a paid internship so you have some kind of income to put towards payments.

4. Find a place to live

In the rush to find a job for next year, you may have forgotten about another crucial decision you need to make: Where are you going to live? If you plan on moving back in with mom and dad, you’re good to go. Otherwise, start apartment hunting as early as possible to get the best picks. You can look up rentals in the area on sites like Rent.com, and ApartmentGuide.com.

5. Spend time with your friends

As you tie up the loose ends of your life in college, don’t forget about the people who matter most to you in school. The relationships you form in college can last a lifetime. Make sure you get a few good late nights in with your best buddies before graduation.

Use these last few months of college wisely by making sure you’ve got your post-college life in order, and taking the time to live it up just a little bit more before adulting for real.


How did you prepare for your college graduation? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

Getting Ahead on Your Student Loan Before You Graduate

As you begin scouting different employment opportunities, be sure to look at the larger picture before you accept a position.

Hopefully, you’ve chosen a career path that will bring you joy and gratification. Equally important, though, is a job that can support your lifestyle choices. While the positions you consider for your post-college job will likely offer the opportunity for growth, you’ll still need to pay your bills—and make your student loan payments—as soon as you graduate. A job that brings you satisfaction and a pleasant working environment will not last long if the salary it offers causes you to sink into debt.

How do you determine what kind of salary will be large enough to support your desired lifestyle?

To get this information, you’ll need to create a mock monthly budget for your post-college self.

Using a spreadsheet or paper and pen, create two columns, one for expenses and one for actual dollar amounts. In the expense column, list your typical monthly expenses, including housing costs, transportation costs, health insurance, groceries, entertainment costs, clothing costs, dining out, savings, etc. In the dollar column, list the amount of money you expect to pay every month for each expense.

Your budget should look something like this:

Expense Monthly Cost
Housing $1200
Transportation $300
Health insurance $250
Groceries $350
Student loan payments $350

It will take some research and some hard, honest thinking to come up with these numbers. For housing costs, take a moment to think about where you see yourself settling down after college. You don’t have to know the exact neighborhood you’ll live in, but it’s good to know the city that will work best for you in terms of lifestyle, career path, and family plans. You can narrow this down to a few choices so long as you keep it reasonable. Once you’ve chosen your desired location, research the median rental prices in the area on real estate sites like Zillow and Redfin.

Next, work on transportation costs. If you already own a car, you’ll have an idea of what it costs you each month. Otherwise, spend some time thinking about what kind of car you want to drive. You can find listings on Carfax.com. Include costs like auto insurance, gas, and upkeep, in this category.

Or, if you plan on living somewhere with reliable public transportation, you might choose this route instead. Make a calculation of how much you’ll spend on bus and/or train rides, along with the occasional cab or ride-share ride.

Complete your budget using your best estimates for each category. Once you’ve filled out each expense amount, add up your total and multiply it by 12 to give you the amount of money you’ll need each year for supporting the lifestyle of your choice. (This number will increase with inflation, but since current salaries will likely increase along with the inflation rate, this exercise can still give you an idea of the annual salary you’ll need.)

Now that you have these numbers, you’re ready to go ahead with your job search. When considering possible positions, you don’t have to choose the one that pays the highest salary if there are other things about the job you don’t love. However, it’s best to pursue positions that can actually support you.


Are you choosing your first job for the salary or for other factors? Share your take with us in the comments.

News and Events happening at USACU