Aug 17 2016by Lauren Wigren
7 Pieces of Advice For Incoming High School SeniorsBy Lauren Wigren - Aug 17 2016
As usual, July flew by and the days are getting shorter and shorter. The end of summer is creeping closer with each passing day and school is becoming a reality. This time last year, I was both exhilarated and nervous to be entering my final year of high school. Senior year is the final chapter of one stage of your life, and as such, you can expect a lot of new responsibilities, emotions and fears. This year can be as fun and exciting as it is stressful, however, as long as you make the most of every opportunity you are presented with.
1. Make time for your friends and family.
If you plan on living away during college, then you'll have to face the reality of this being the last year you will be able to see your family and high school friends everyday. Even when you bicker with or get tired of the people in your life, you know deep down that you love them and leaving them will be difficult. Make an effort to spend more time with them while you can. Go out to dinner with your parents and siblings. Plan get-togethers with the entire squad, even if it means asking for work off or forking over gas money. Once you leave for college it will become more difficult to see people outside of your campus sphere.
2. Start applying to colleges now.
If you already have a mental list of schools you would like to apply to, it's best to start now. Common App goes live every year beginning on Aug 1, and with all the detailed information it requires from you, it'll be more convenient to sit down and start filling it out now while your days are not yet jam-packed with school, homework, sports, etc. Another important step to complete is your essay, since you will be required to write one for the majority of colleges/universities you are thinking of applying to. Getting a head-start on your essay will give you more time to edit and get feedback from family, friends or teachers, which will ultimately make you feel more confident when you finally go to submit it.
3. Take classes that interest you.
While AP and honors-level courses may seem like a necessity while applying to colleges, you shouldn't overlook classes that truly intrigue you. Maybe that psychology class is related to your intended college major, or maybe you’ve always wanted to try Creative Writing, but with all those nursing classes, you probably won’t have time in college. Senior year is your last opportunity to truly take advantage of what your high school has to offer. Don’t overlook an opportunity to learn a new skill or explore a new subject.
4. Pursue your passions and try new things.
Just as you should be taking classes that interest you, it is also important to make time for the clubs, sports, activities and hobbies you enjoy. You may intend to pursue a demanding major or career path, or you may attend a university with different extra curricular offerings than your high school, so take advantage of the opportunities you have now. You may even consider trying something new. It’s never too late to discover new passions, and who knows, you may decide that auditioning for your first musical senior year was the best decision you ever made and you want to continue acting in college. Once the applications are finished and homework becomes less time-consuming, you’ll have a lot more free time. Fill it with something meaningful to you.
5. Don’t give up completely.
You may be a senior but school is still school and, unfortunately, that college acceptance isn’t the end - most colleges, in fact, will look at your final transcript at the very end of the year to make sure you didn’t slack off. Senioritus is very real and you will probably lose all motivation after winter break. Despite this, you’ve got to keep trying. Get your work done, hand assignments in on time and make sure your grades don’t slip too much. It will make for a less stressful end-of-the-year when you won’t have to worry about teachers chasing you for missing work or colleges looking to reconsider your acceptance.
6. Try to attend every school event that interests you.
Want to wear your dream dress to senior prom? Want to cheer on all your friends at the homecoming game? Don’t let something trivial get in your way. Since it’s your last year as a student at your high school, take full advantage of the events and opportunities you’ll only have the chance to be involved with as a student. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life wondering whether you would have had fun or learned something new at an event you missed out on. As an underclassman, there was “always next year,” but you no longer have that luxury.
7. Don’t take anything for granted
I know you’ve been hearing this over and over for the past few years and you don’t want to hear it again, but really, high school flies by. You may be eager to move on, but ultimately there will be aspects of your high school life that you’ll miss. Whether it’s seeing your friends everyday or an activity you’re involved with, there is something that makes everyone’s school day a little better. This time next year, you won’t be able to experience it the same way ever again. Create fond new memories and appreciate the moments that make you smile. The time will fly by.
High school is coming to a close. You can either make your senior year exciting, productive and memorable, or you can walk away after graduation filled with regrets and “what ifs?” Recognize that any emotions you have about moving on are okay and enjoy the life you’re living right now.
Lead Image Credit: US Department of Education
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Here it is again: the how-to letter those teachers always make you read at the beginning of the year from those students who managed to survive the class. Now that I’m a sage and maybe a little jaded senior, it’s my turn to give the advice. Pay heed, all underclassmen who read to the end: this WILL be on the exam.
Academics aren’t everything.
Colleges like to know they’re getting students who will glean more from higher education than just a diploma—they want kids who have shown their curiosity by pursuing goals outside of the classroom. Scholarship suppliers and employers also favor young people who pursue their passions beyond what is required. Besides the obvious collegiate advantages, being a part of a few choice activities, from basketball to debate to volunteering, will help you to build relationships and will enhance your high school experience.
But still, do well in school.
All the extracurriculars in the world won’t make a difference if you’re barely pulling a 1.5 GPA. The secret to good grades, though, is that they’re often more a reflection of the amount of work you’ve put into them than your intelligence and willingness to go the extra mile; that’s why taking advantage of your high school’s honors program, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes shows colleges that you haven’t spent four years slacking. And don’t forget that…
Extra credit is there for a reason.
It’s one of those things that students overlook all too often. Though extra credit probably won’t help you get from a B to an A, it definitely provides padding in case you miss a day of class or turn in an assignment late.
Be a little bit of a teacher’s pet.
Having good relationships with the people who are educating you isn’t just about being polite—it can really work to your advantage both now and in the long run. Asking for help or, when the time comes, a letter of recommendation is much easier if you know that you’re liked and appreciated instead of just tolerated in the classroom. You don’t have to be buddy-buddy with all of your teachers; just being respectful and cooperative will take you a long way.
This is the tip I was hesitant to include because it seems to be the one people rarely follow purely because it’s so easy to blow off a reading assignment for “a few minutes” to take a nap or watch TV or check Facebook. Avoid the panic and shame of finishing up your homework at 3 a.m. by—shocker!—starting it early, maybe an hour or so after you get home, and taking quick breaks every hour to recharge and avoid academic burnout. That way you’ll get plenty of time to relax while still managing to hit the sack at a reasonable time.
Though at least one of these tips is undoubtedly one you’ve heard before from another wise old well-wisher—and all are ones I received during my first few years of high school—the truth is, they’re the ones that will prove most valuable. In a few years when you’re writing your advice to underclassmen, I guarantee that they’ll make an appearance.
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