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Advice to rising seniors

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Graduation announcements, senior activities, final transcripts — it seems as if everything we have done over the past 12 years of our lives has converged to this quintessential moment. Since walking into middle school, wherever it may have been, we were trained to subconsciously move through education focused not on the moment, but on the ultimate goal: post-graduate plans. However, in senior year more than any other, such a blind drive is unhealthy and unrealistic; the final year of public education has the power to be more emotionally, socially and academically taxing than any other.

As a senior, you have more control over your life than you’ve ever had, and with this freedom you will likely be more lost than ever, and that is more than alright. 17 year olds are thrown into senior year silently expected to already know what they want to do with the rest of their lives, and because of such unspoken expectations, the weight of senior year was more than I ever expected. In short, there are many points I wish would have been expressed to my peers and me prior to the quickest year of my life.

Take only the classes you want to take. Drop the extracurriculars you are not doing for you. Colleges are looking for commitment and passion, and this does not equate to taking all of the most rigorous classes available to you and continuing extracurriculars just for the sake of college applications. Trust in and visit your counselor frequently. It is without doubt difficult to remain driven with a rapidly encroaching graduation date, so do not make this harder for yourself.

Start the college application process early. Colleges genuinely want to work with you, so go out with friends you know you work well with and set realistic deadlines for yourself; if you remain organized, you will get everything done on time. If you know where you want to end up, apply early decision, and if you aren’t sure, send in several applications early action; generally students are more likely to get accepted early, and the sense of relief that comes with being in any college is indescribable and beyond worth the stress of putting together applications early.

Interviews and tours are important. College is predominantly about the educational opportunities, but choosing a college should be about the feeling. I frequently caught myself favoring “better” schools over the ones I knew to be true better fits for me, and this is unfair. Visiting multiple schools may prove expensive and time consuming, but it’s practically impossible to get a good idea of a school before physically being on the campus; it is the next four years of your life, all gain is worth the conflicts. Additionally, colleges will work with you to shape the best possible major path and keep in mind that a vast amount of students change majors upon entering college.

Get used to not being the best. I have been a solid student through all of high school, but this year I started to take more difficult classes that challenged me in ways I have not been challenged before. I got 10 percents on BC Calculus quizzes but worked hard and ended up with an “A” for the year; with the continuous looming pressure of college, it is easier than ever to actively compare yourself to standards that are frankly impossible to reach. Keep working hard and don’t give up once second semester commences– you are more than capable of thriving in senior year.

Find outlets for yourself. Don’t simply do everything “for the memories,” but this is the last part of a massive chapter of your life, so reevaluate how you balance your time and consider what will really matter to you the most in the long run. Enjoy the moments. Yes, social drama will inevitably escalate in your senior year, but if you surround yourself with people you really care about, all of these problems will seem inconsequential in a couple months; don’t be afraid to drop those who haven’t been good for you mentally or socially if you know it will make you happier.

Finally, high school does not end the second you apply to college. It’s inarguable that college will shape our futures more than high school, but these have been very transformative and defining years– do not sacrifice your last year of high school friendships and experiences for constantly thinking of the years to come. High school is wonderfully unique to any other life experience, and, despite being unbelievably excited for college, I never thought I would be so sad to be leaving behind the obnoxious orange and frankly terrifying hawk mascot.

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Advice to rising seniors