The Senior Bucket List
College is supposed to be the best four years of your life. Here’s how to make the most of your last one.
By Courtney Guth, University of Maryland
I’m a big fan of to-do lists. They keep me organized. They keep me happy. There’s almost nothing as satisfying as taking my pen and crossing something off in my planner (except maybe chocolate chip cookies). I love my to-do lists so much that I’ve been known to add something to my list that I’ve completed just to cross it off. (I can’t be the only one who does this. Right…right??).
Satisfying quirks aside, these to-do lists are great for the day to day activities, but what about the biggest to-do list of them all: the bucket list. Sure, my planner helps me get through my readings and other assignments, but the bucket list is the ultimate source of accomplishments. People make bucket lists for everything: 25 things to do before you’re 25; things to do before you depart your study abroad; things to do before you graduate. For the latter, there’s a lot you can fit in during your four (or maybe five–I won’t tell) years in college. However, there are certain items that you must fit in during your final year of college. Here are the top 10 items that should be on your senior bucket list:
- Study Abroad: There’s still time! While you may not be able to go away for a whole semester, short term programs are a great way to still explore the world around you. Go abroad during your winter holiday or spring break. If you can’t fit that in, maybe take some time to roam post grad. You have the rest of your life to work at a career. Take some time after you graduate and just explore. Backpack through Europe. Cruise the Mediterranean. Just do it before the responsibilities of the real world pile up.
- Be Spontaneous: Traveling doesn’t have to be limited to just going out of the country. There’s plenty to explore locally. Skip class one day, and just go somewhere. After you graduate, that one class you missed won’t make a difference, but the memories you made on a spontaneous adventure will. Now, don’t make a habit of skipping class, but everyone needs a good adventure story. One of my favorites involves taking a break from studying during finals week and driving 40 min away to go to Sonic. It was a silly spontaneous trip, but it’s a great story.
- Make New Friends: Just because you’ve been at your school for almost four years doesn’t mean it’s too late to make new friends. You’re about to face a lot of transitions after you graduate. You’re going to need to make new friends at your next job or wherever you move. Get out there and introduce yourself to people now. Learn to make friends casually. Take time to connect with your fellow classmates. You might just make a lifelong friend in the process.
- Reconnect with Old Friends: Everything was so simple when you were a freshman. Those first two weeks of college you were eager to make friends and hit it off with everyone. Many people instantly bond with their floor-mates or someone sitting in the dining hall. Chances are you’ve let some of those friendships slip to the wayside. Take the time to reconnect and see what they’re up to. Grab a drink with some of your freshman floor-mates or get lunch with your first lab partner. It will be fun to reminisce about that simpler time and all the goofy mistakes you made as graduation and the real world approaches.
- Find an Internship: One of the best ways to find employment post grad is to secure an internship. Even if you don’t walk away with a job offer, you’re making great connections and acquiring important skills. Those are invaluable as post grad life looms ahead. If you can fit this in your schedule, it’s a great way to knock out your last few credits too. Find your passion and work with it.
- Complete a Weird Tradition: I think every school has its senior traditions. I’ve heard seniors streak at William & Mary. At Maryland, we like to jump in the fountain or climb to the top of the stadium late at night to see the Washington Monument in the distance. Find the weird traditions your school has and embrace them. Don’t have any? Start your own!
- Visit a Friend’s School: You’ve spent four years at your own school…why not visit someone else’s? Take the time to explore a campus other than your own with a close friend as a guide. It’s a great way to catch up with some of your high school friends and enjoy a change of scenery. My best friend from high school goes to WVU. She visited me this fall, and I loved showing her around. I can’t wait to visit her in the spring.
- Get a Picture with Your Mascot: Mascots are one of the quirkier parts of school pride, but we all love our own. I adore our terrapin, Testudo. You can’t leave college without snapping a picture with yours. It makes for a great keepsake and really embodies that whole school spirit thing. Do whatever it takes to get a picture. Stalk the mascot, scream at a game. Make sure you meet him or her before you walk across the stage in the spring.
- Watch the Sun Rise on Campus: What better way to end an all-nighter, whether at the library or the bar than to watch the sun rise from a beautiful setting. Our mall is the perfect spot to watch the sun stretch across the lawn, and I’m sure your campus is just as beautiful. Feel free to make metaphors about how the sun is now rising on a new chapter in your life and all that jazz. Whatever you need to do to cope with the new changes on the horizon.
- Thank Those Who Have Gotten You this Far: College is hard work. You’re almost done. Make sure you take time to appreciate the people who have been there for you along the way. It could be your parents, your roommate, your professor, or maybe all of the above. Write them a thank you note to show how much their help has meant to you.
So there you have it! Just a few of the things I need to do before I leave in the Spring. I am nowhere near ready to leave because I love it here so much, but I know I have to make the most of the few months I have left. What’s on your bucket list?