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Brittany Dawson, the CampusRiot Campus Representative for the University of South Carolina, is a junior studying English at the University of South Carolina.

Congratulations rising seniors, graduation is almost here!

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Don’t celebrate too early, senior year is not the time to slack off! By now, you may have experienced several emotional breakdowns. Does OMG, what am I gonna do with my life?? sound familiar? We all know preparing to plunge into the “real world” can be extremely intimidating. But if you approach senior year objectively, plan ahead, and manage obligations and responsibilities wisely, you lessen the risk of obliterating your future (I know, pretty scary huh?)

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Wait!! I haven’t managed my responsibilities wisely and I’m not sure if I’m on track. What should I do?

Let me be clear: if you’re playing Russian roulette with your GPA, it may be too late. However, there are ways to ensure a prosperous senior year and a successful future. Instead of partying like a rock star over summer break, treat yo’self (occasionally) and consider this summer checklist for rising seniors:

Secure an internship.

If you haven’t secured an internship by now, you are behind. Thanks to advancements in technology we are more digitized than ever. Nowadays, many companies and organizations offer virtual internships. This is a useful alternative for students unable to relocate. Check out InternMatch or other internship databases for more information.

Network and build connections.

It’s time to interact with professors and build a professional network. You should have at least one professor or former employer who can attest to your character and marketability. Try establishing a relationship with all of your professors rather than Facebook stalking your roommate’s boyfriend in class. After all, this is your future we’re talking about.

Don’t slack off.

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I know, I know, you’re so close! Senioritis is curable, I promise. Continue to study hard and stay away from potential distractions—Netflix, happy hour(s), college parties, dare I continue? By all means, you deserve a break every now and then, but these distractions will never compare to the best treat of all: GRADUATION.

Take advantage of financial literacy programs.

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Student loans are no laughing matter (**cries**). What’s the difference between a subsidized and unsubsidized loan? Do you know which loan(s) are accruing interest? If so, how much? Not sure what any of this means? Schedule an appointment with the financial aid office or take advantage of free financial literacy resources for college students. The more you know, the better.

Update your resume.

Soon, you’ll be making a name for yourself in corporate America. Potential employers gauge an applicant’s marketability based on the accuracy of a resume. Depending on your involvements on or off-campus, you may have a myriad of experience. It is your job to decide which experience(s) stay on the resume and reflect the needs of the company. If you’re stuck, check out the campus career center.

Are you ready for senior year?

feature photo via thinkstock