by SoVanna Day-Goins

Senior year is often the time when students begin to learn what it truly means to be “adulting.”

I think many college students perceive adulting as the beginning of their independence from their families.  Many perceive it as the time when they start paying their own bills.  A few may see it as when they become of legal drinking age.  It may be all of these things and so much more.

Now that my daughter is in her final year of college, she is starting to feel that the realities of life and adulthood are quickly approaching.  She recently asked me, “How do you know when you are ready?”  I told her that she would know when she could look back on all her experiences and know that she has taken full advantage of all of the opportunities that have been given to her to succeed.

I tell many parents and their students that it is important for students to begin their college careers by getting involved in campus organizations and being politically active at their school.  Civic engagement in the community is everyone’s responsibility. Students should be leaders.  They should demonstrate their relevance by taking on responsibilities that show that they can lead and be led.  I also encourage them to attend seminars, workshops, lectures and conferences offered by the school to enhance their personal and professional growth and development.

Additionally, I believe that students should invest in building relationships and connections with their peers, teachers, advisors, faculty, and staff at the University.  One of the most important things to understand about a mentor/mentee relationship is it must be symbiotic, which means it should be a give and take relationship on both sides.  Students should recognize that people are willing to invest in them if they can bring something to the table, like thoughtful insights and a willingness to engage.

Also, students should recognize early that career planning starts on day one, not during their final semester at college.  They should develop a solid academic plan, seek out job and internship opportunities that are in line with their interests and career objectives, and employ their advisors to help direct their path.

Finally, students must consider themselves to be life-long learners.  If they are fortunate enough, leaving college does not mean the end, but a new beginning.  They should take full advantage of the expansive and deep alumni network that Penn State has.  Whether they are starting their job search or exploring further educational opportunities, there are abundant resources available and they should utilize them to the fullest.  Besides, they (and you as their family members) paid for it in blood, sweat, tears and cold hard cash!

This is adulting!

P.S.  If you haven’t heard from your student in a few days, this may provide a little prompt for a discussion on adulting, long-term planning, and taking action in achieving goals.

Penn State Parents Council