Tips from a Graduating Senior

This May I'll be ending what I consider to be a successful stay at USM. But it was no accident that my academic career went smoothly. I built a strong relationship with my advisor; was vigilant in tracking my progress; and never ceased learning about and using the valuable resources on campus. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your stay here at USM.

graduate student

The most important thing any student can do is get to know their advisor on a personal level. It may sound clichéd and over-hyped, but by building a strong relationship with your advisor you'll always have an advocate on campus. By getting to know your advisor and what they do on campus, you can see what it's like to work in the field that you're studying. Plus, if your advisor knows you well, they can make suggestions that they otherwise wouldn't be able to make.

It's easy enough to go through college using your advisor just for your PIN. But, if you're just a little more involved – and it doesn't take much – you'll almost certainly be more successful. Through open discussions with your advisor you'll be able to tailor an education that meets your exact needs. Because advisors are well-versed in the professional world, they have access to inside information that isn't available in the course catalog.

As a sophomore, I realized that I wanted to broaden by horizons outside of media writing. Talking with my advisor it became clear that I'd be able to pick up a double-major in English without too much trouble. What resulted was an education that has melded the literary tradition and the new-age world of media. Now I feel like I am well-equipped to enter any communication-based work-force. I can write press releases, news stories, poems, short stories – anything. But, if I hadn't shared my interests with my advisor, I would have never discovered how easy it would be to build a program that made me the best possible student and future employee I could be. Opportunities like this are everywhere.

And, let's face it: we're all here to get our degrees or work toward some goal. Advisors are the number one information source on campus. They can help you with the logistics and the nuances of meeting those goals. Whether it's sorting out general education requirements or working to diversify your skill set advisors can help you get there.

So don't just send an e-mail two days before registration asking for your PIN. Clear some time from your life and make it a point to build a rapport with your advisor. You'll be surprised how far a little initiative can go.

And keep track of your classes and progress toward graduation. Use the Graduation Planner as a tool. Either way, you'll have a working document that can help guide your choices, assuring that you'll graduate in a timely manner with the courses you want to take.