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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Advice for underclassmen from a graduating senior

Student+balancing+books
Student balancing books

Navigating college can be challenging. You are building the foundation for the rest of your career and this can be overwhelming. Many college students may feel like they were thrown into the ocean without a paddle. Let this set of advice serve as your proverbial paddle as you progress through your college career.
Scholarships
Be proactive in financing your education.
Many decisions concerning your college career comes down to their financial feasibility. Finances can dictate many things — where you live, how many classes you are able to take, and even whether you can afford to test out an additional major or minor. Still, there are steps you can take to alleviate financial burdens and expand your educational possibilities.
Make your scholarship search an ongoing process. There are several scholarships available through the university. Internal scholarships are ideal as they allow you to compete with a presumably smaller pool of applicants as opposed to national scholarships. Check the university’s scholarship webpage regularly to keep up with the latest scholarship opportunities for both new and continuing students. 
Pro tip: Keep a copy of a general personal statement that details your academic and career accomplishments to date, as well as your future plans. In addition, compile a working master resume. Many scholarships require you to submit these documents and having readily available copies saves valuable time.
Class Schedules
Be informed and strategic.
Every semester students are faced with the task of creating a class schedule for the subsequent semester. Before you begin, lose the idea that there is a perfect schedule. Though it is not impossible to create a schedule that suits your needs, it is stressful to compare your actual schedule to your predetermined vision. Also, there is not a one-size-fits-all schedule. What works for one student may not work for another. Manage your time wisely and do what works for you.
Familiarize yourself with your major requirements early on and refer to them regularly. Create your schedule with these requirements in mind. Avoid stress by fulfilling prerequisites in a tactical and timely manner. For those that would like to graduate in the traditional four years, bear in mind that you must take at least five classes a semester. Also, begin early. Create a tentative schedule before your assigned registration date. This will allow you to save yourself a spot in a class that may fill up quickly and should expedite the actual registration process.
Pro tip: If possible, incorporate one free day a week into your schedule. This gives you time to do homework, work, or simply rest. Remember school doesn’t require you to be there five days a week, but work usually does and you have the rest of your life to do that.
Mentors
Make connections.
In college, you will meet people who want to help you succeed. This will likely be your first time forging professional relationships. These relationships will open up a world of opportunity for you and will help you achieve your goals. At some point in your career, you will be asked to submit a professional recommendation, whether it be for an internship, a scholarship, a job, or a graduate school application. In order to avoid the awkward and anxiety-inducing scramble for what are likely to be mediocre recommendations, begin forming a network of dependable professional contacts early.
Many professors are untapped resources. Visit their offices hours. Show interest in their research. Inquire about additional work or academic opportunities. It is up to you to forge and maintain these connections. A mentor, with whom you’ve established a professional relationship, will be able to attest to your integrity and skill.
Pro tip: If you like a particular professor, during course registration check if that professor teaches any other courses. By taking another course with a professor you’ve had in the past, this professor will have a better grasp on your academic abilities and will be able to write a stronger recommendation.
Leadership
Develop your professional leadership skills before entering the job market.
Employers and graduate programs want leaders. This is a broad term as there are various manifestations of leadership. Find an area of interest and strive to excel in it. The leadership roles that you assume in college can make a difference when applying to jobs or graduate programs.
You don’t have to go far to find leadership opportunities. The university offers these opportunities in a variety of areas. You can work with a student organization, a specific college or department, or a university partner. Take the time to peruse the university’s student career website for job and internship postings. For entrepreneurial types, the university offers the opportunity for students to establish their own clubs. Begin seeking out and preparing for these positions during the breaks before each semester, as postings tend to go up around these times.
Pro tip: Push yourself out of your comfort zone when looking for leadership opportunities. College is a relatively low-risk environment for you to practice honing advanced leadership skills.
College is a time of professional development and personal growth. Remember, enjoy college while you are there and treat it as the foundation for your future endeavors.