Seniors, seniors, seniors. You have quite the year ahead of you. Finishing up your SAT’s, sending in those college applications, embarking on that fun senior trip (if your school is lucky enough to give you one), getting to slack off after AP exams. It’s a crazy year to say the least. Some say it’s the best year of high school, others say it doesn’t live up to the hype. That’s for you to figure out…but as I sit here waiting to move into my college dorm in just 4 short days, I figured I’d let you rising seniors in on some pieces of advice that I wish I heard as I prepared for year 12 of my education.
- Don’t expect the academic side of it to be easy. A huge misconception about this year is that after college applications are sent in, senior year is a piece of cake. I sent in my final college application at the end of November, but my year didn’t get “easy” until May. In terms of work assigned, the load generally doesn’t get lighter until after AP exams (if you’re taking any), at least in my school. By January you don’t have applications to worry about anymore, but midterms, papers, and other assignments are still there to keep you busy. Your grades on these tasks won’t matter too much for college purposes after January, but if they matter to you personally, don’t expect this year to be a breeze.
- Don’t procrastinate your applications. I started most of my college applications the summer before senior year, and once school started, I realized how smart I was to have gotten that head start. Often, your English teachers will require you to turn in one of your potential college essays so that they can help you strengthen it. Even if these teachers give you a lot of time to work on the task, it’s hard to force a brilliant idea to come to you in a matter of days. No one wants to be in work-mode during those last few warm days of the year, but if you’re a rising senior and haven’t gotten a jump start on those essays, I would really recommend at least outlining your common application essay before school starts. Make it as enjoyable as possible…Take your laptop outside, make yourself a portable snack, and crank out those applications under the warm sun.
- Use all the resources you can. Ask your guidance counselor a million questions about the application process. Ask your teachers (past and present) to look over your application essays. As annoying as you may feel, these people are here to help you!
- Get a job if you don’t have one already. This tip doesn’t apply to everyone in every circumstance, but I think that generally, senior year is the best time to get a job. I strongly believe that every person should have some kind of work experience before they start college, not only to make some money, but also to take a baby step into the real world before fully entering it. Whether it’s nannying or working at a fast food place, try to make time for at least one shift per week.
- Don’t be afraid to start something new or stop something old. If you’re the person who never really partied, but all of a sudden, you realize you want to see what it’s like, try it out. Similarly, if you’re the person that partied throughout high school but are pretty done with the whole thing for now, give yourself a break. This doesn’t just go for parties. It also applies to sports, relationships, and pretty much everything else. You don’t have to be the same person you’ve always been. This is your last year here, and you might as well spend it with no regrets.
- Don’t join the college Facebook group until you’re certain on a school. The second I got accepted into my first school in January, I joined the school’s Facebook group. While I’m happy I got to meet some really awesome people in these Facebook groups, I high key wish I waited to join until I committed to one school. I spent so much time talking to people in these groups, and this prevented me from being fully present with my friends and family during those months. Instead of enjoying every little moment of our school’s Disney trip, I spent a solid 20 minutes a day (mostly while we waited in lines, but still) scrolling through the Facebook group in search of potential roommates. I also had to force myself to not like certain schools more than others based on the friends I was making in the group chats. Save yourself some energy and just wait until you settle on a school, especially since I’ve heard that most people don’t stay too close with the friends they make online before orientation.
- Don’t wish it all away. This tip goes with the last one, in the sense that you don’t want to waste the fun moments by solely focusing on the future. Graduation and college will happen soon enough, but for now, focus on learning as much as you can in your classes, enjoying yourself as much as you can in your sports and clubs, and growing as much as you can in your friendships and relationships. This is the last year you get to spend with all the people you’ve grown up with, and the unavoidable goodbyes will be a tad easier if you know you made the most of the moments you had together.
- Get the closure you need. At the end of the year, you have a chance to make amends with people whom you have had tension with. You can also tell your crush of 4 years that you like them. Moreover, you can tell off anyone who has wronged you. It’s easy to get tempted by these possibilities, for there are very few repercussions since you probably won’t see those people again. However, force yourself to be rational with your emotions. Only confront these people if you feel like it’s absolutely necessary for your inner peace. Otherwise, you’re just filling the end of your year with drama.
As I become a freshman once again (pray for me), I can’t help but get so giddy for all you rising 12th graders. Senior year has the potential to be one of the best years of your life, but only if you have a healthy mindset going into it. I hope these tips could help you prepare yourself for the year of tremendous growth that you’re about to embark on. Make it count, class of 2020.