Second semester of senior year no longer connotes the same kind of lazy, laid-back attitude it was once known for at universities around the country. Sometime between when the job market sharpened its already-competitive edge and when many graduate schools began to rival Harvard University in selectivity, the death of “senioritis” occurred. Students can no longer afford to allow their grades and in-class performances to slack, because success after graduation depends on one’s overall success during college.
Usually regarded as somewhat of an extended last hurrah, second semester senior year tends to involve a lighter course load and plenty of socializing on the part of the senior class. Yet because the demand for employment after graduation has risen, the job market is a more competitive sphere. Getting a job as a recent graduate is a challenge – it no longer just requires a bachelor’s degree. Instead, student’s GPAs and extracurricular activities are now taken into account by potential employers. This causes seniors to remain active on campus, continue through internships and strive for good grades.
In-class performance also doesn’t have an opportunity to slack during second semester senior year. One thing all seniors eventually learn is that anyone can become a potential contact for a job. This includes school administrators, but more importantly professors, who are an invaluable resource. Seniors across the nation are more than willing to endure the lectures of a painfully dull professor if for no other reason than because he or she is well-connected in a desired field.
Let’s face it, actively participating in class and doing well on assignments will get the attention of professors and possibly their approval (even better). Then when you ask them mid-semester for a recommendation or job info, they are less likely to laugh in your face and more likely to help you out. GW is particularly lucky in this regard because many of our professors are still active in their fields and have plenty of contacts to potentially pass along to job-hungry seniors.
Given that GW is located in a hotbed of potential employers, the University should better help prepare its seniors for job searches, recruitment and interviews. One way to do this would be to improve the senior curriculum by adding a mandatory advising class. This class would be similar to the Columbian College’s advising workshop, which is required for all freshmen. A senior workshop could be taught by various GW professors and would address the concerns, issues and anxieties that today’s seniors have about life after graduation.
Whether your goal is to attend graduate school or to apply for jobs in a particular field, the senior workshop would be able to provide individual attention to students and their goals. It could even include guest lecturers from companies around the area, allowing seniors insight into what qualities an ideal candidate would possess.
With the pressure to do well definitely felt during senior year, it is no wonder that only a hint of senioritis can be found around campus. Even that hint is barely reminiscent of the carefree atmosphere once associated with the final semester. College has become the new high school. It is only another stepping-stone toward “laying the foundation for a successful future,” a phrase parents love to use during the college admissions process.
This statement could not ring any more true for our undergraduate experiences now.
-The writer, a senior majoring in American
studies, is a Hatchet columnist.