WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE SENIOR YEAR
Senior year is without a doubt one of the best years that you have in high school. You are so close to graduating, college is on the horizon, and it is the last time to celebrate special events like Spirit Week, Halloween, and prom with all of your hometown friends. Senior year is also one of the most overwhelming parts of high school. It is not going to be super easy all the time, you can't just necessarily give up like everyone does in every high school movie ever, and college is a real and scary fact that many of us deal with.
There are many things I wish I knew before my senior year, so I thought it would be helpful to share my tips with all the juniors out there who want some advice before entering the chaos of the first few months of school. *I went to a private college preparatory school, so my experience is not going to be the same as everyone's.*
1. Get your college apps done early.
Write that personal statement, start applications to your schools in August/September, and if you want to EA or ED somewhere, start thinking about it NOW. Trust me, it is not a good idea to start writing all of your college apps in December a week before they are due. College admissions know when things have been written in a rush and there is a good chance it will have a negative impact on your application if you didn't take your time with it. I re-wrote my personal statement about 3 times before I finally was happy with it, so take my advice and try to get this stuff out of the way as soon as possible. Also, on the schools that you are the most interested in, take the most time on those because you want to make sure that you are the most confident with those essays.
2. Really research the schools you are applying to.
Make sure every school on your list is something you are happy with. This applies to your safeties too. If you end up having to go to a school you didn't expect to, you still want to be happy with it. Make sure they have the programs and majors you are interested in, the type of campus you like, and that you feel like you could be happy spending four years there.
3. It is going to be overwhelming, and that is ok.
It is going to be a weird time in your life. Everything feels like it is going super fast and so slowly at the same time. Some people feel really confident about the whole process while others are unable to sleep because they are really stressed about it. Just remember, that the whole college admissions process is not perfect by any means. You probably will not get into schools that you should have, you probably will deal with rejection more than you would have liked, and most likely it's going to involve tears of happiness, sadness, confusion, and excitement all at once. The whole college process is an emotional whirlwind, so try and take care of yourself during the fall semester.
4. If you really like a school, try to visit it, join their email list, and go to local events that they sponsor.
If you are really interested in a school you should do as much as you can to let them know that it is your #1 choice. Many schools love demonstrated interest. After you send in your application, send an email to the school a month later thanking them for your consideration, updating them on your life, and letting them know how much you want to go there.
5. DO NOT COMPARE SCHOOLS, AP SCORES, SAT/ACT SCORES WITH YOUR CLASSMATES
This is just not worth it. Don't be that person that brags about their 36 on their ACT. We get it, you are amazing and that is a huge accomplishment but for the kids out there struggling with their test scores, it can be tough to constantly listen to that one kid who wants to go to Princeton and feels so confident because they got 5s on all their AP's and a perfect 36 on their ACT. Just don't be annoying with it because people don't like those kids very much.
6. Ask for help when you need it!
Go to English teachers at your school and ask them to proofread your college essays, talk to the college counselors about questions you have about certain schools, and make sure you are on top of all the deadlines for scholarships or financial aid.
7. You do not have to take the toughest courseload imaginable
While it is important to show colleges that you are not slacking off during your senior year, it is also important to stay sane during this time. Taking 4 AP's and tons of honors classes can really run you down, so my advice is to take the classes you really want to take but if you are just doing it for college, it might not be worth it.
8. USE GRAMMARLY
This is such a great resource for students regardless of what grade you are in. It is especially helpful for catching grammar and spelling mistakes that you missed when proofreading your college essays. It is free and a lifesaver. Please download it, you will not regret it.
9. Do not count on anything.
The college system is crazy. You will get into certain schools and not others and it doesn't always make sense. You just got to keep going and remember that you will end up at the right place for you. Also, if for some reason once you get to that school you feel like it is not the perfect fit for you, you can ALWAYS transfer, remember that.
10. Once you get past the first semester, senior year is so much fun.
The second semester is a great time for seniors. Everything is out of your hands and you can finally relax...kind of. Besides the dreaded date of college decisions, this should be a time for you to hang out with friends more, not be so hard on yourself, and appreciate the final moments you will share with your classmates. My class became so close during the entire year, but second semester is when we really started becoming a family. Do things that you have been wanting to do all of high school because it really is now or never.
11. You will be filled with so much excitement once you see your friends get into college
Even if it is not their dream college you honestly become like a proud mom when your best friends start receiving their admission decisions. Cherish these moments because they are so special.
12. YOU ARE GOING TO GET INTO COLLEGE AND IT IS SUCH A CRAZY FEELING
Once you get into any school, there is a relief that you are finally truly able to relax because you are going somewhere. You might also have some tough decisions to make when deciding what school is right for you, but with a good support team and listening to your gut feelings, I promise you will figure it out!
13. Prom really isn't all that
Prom is fine. It really is not that exciting, to be honest. Do not have super high expectations for it because you will probably be a little letdown. My best advice is don't really worry about your date but make sure that you and your friends are having as much fun as you possibly can.
14. Graduation is one of the weirdest things ever.
Once you get to your graduation day, it is one of the strongest out of body experiences you will feel. You have been waiting for this day for so long and it has finally come. Except before you did not really think about this being one of the last times you and all your friends are together, one of the last times you are going to be on your high school campus, and one of the last times you are going to be surrounded by teachers and faculty that contributed so much to your high school experience.
15. Enjoy it.
Although senior year is filled with stress, it is one of the most exciting years of your life. You become closer with friends, bond with teachers you have had during your high school years, and towards the end, you really don't want it to end.
What to take from this-
I don't mean to scare anyone with this post, these are just some things I wish I knew before I embarked on my senior year. Remeber that it is going to be stressful at some points, but it is also going so much fun. You will get through it and I promise everything will work out in the end. Getting that diploma is going to be so worth it and a reminder of all the hard work and dedication over the years it took you to get there!
I hope these tips helped!