says of his high school textbooks. “I felt like I was being cheated and an HBCU would meet that requirement.”
As you complete your last year as an undergraduate, take these tips with you:
Send out cover letters and resumés. Now that you’ve mastered resumé-building and cover letter writing, it’s time to send them out. If you’ve followed our guidelines, you have a good sense of what you want to do as a professional. If you’re trying to get on a path to a career, send out about 50 cover letters and resumés by using contacts, the Internet, job postings in newspapers, and your school’s career center.
Prepare for a new school. If you’re thinking about law school, grad school, or medical school, prepare to fill out applications, take aptitude tests such as the GMAT or LSAT, write essays, and meet deadlines. Take time the summer before your senior year to get all of your applications together and study for fall testing. Even consider a refresher course. But don’t view graduate school as a backup in case you don’t get a job. Use it as the next step to meet your goals. For example, get an M.B.A. to become more competitive in a business environment or as preparation for a higher-level job.
Get started now, it’s not too late. Developing a support network, sharpening interview skills, and even traveling abroad can happen early in your senior year. So if you’re a late bloomer, it’s not too late. It may take you longer to accomplish some goals if you wait too long into your final semester, but the resources at your school are there for you when you’re ready, not the other way around.
Develop plans B, C, and D. What if you don’t get that f
ellowship in England? By having more than one plan, you won’t be stuck if the first one doesn’t work out. If there is a lull between plans A and B, keep busy by taking on part-time work, volunteering, and temping. Temporary work is a good opportunity to try different companies and make valuable contacts. Having backup plans will reduce the stress level you otherwise might have encountered had your first plan failed. “People should really pay attention to what their gifts and passions and talents are,” Carter says. “If they keep asking [questions of] themselves and listening to themselves, they will ultimately get the information they seek.”
— Additional reporting by Stephanie Young
CRASH COURSE:MONEY 101
Besides your diploma, you may get something else upon graduatingfrom college — DEBT!
Sallie Mae calculated the mean undergraduate debt for African Americans to be $15,300 in 2002. Use these tips to help you balance your budget.
GET A JOB. Counteract debt by working during your summer or winter vacations. If you choose to work during the school year, work part time to allow yourself enough time for schoolwork. According to the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the effects on undergraduates working more than 21 hours per week included limited class schedules and access to the