-A Letter to High School Seniors
(Oh, and if you’re not a senior, you might still find some helpful advice in this article. And if you’re just starting high school, here is my advice for high school freshmen. A lot of the information may overlap since I wrote the freshmen post as a senior, but each is tailored to the particular group.)
There may be a lot of resources out there about senior year, and many of them may say exactly what I’m saying, but sometimes it’s hard to actually find good advice. Yes, make the most of this time of your life and look forward to college, but take it from someone fresh out of graduation: don’t wish this crucial part of your life away. One day you’re going to wake up and realize that high school, and all of its relative simplicity is over. That’s scary considering that in many cases, the life you’re in now is the only life you’ve ever known.
So, learn to enjoy the season of life you’re in now and make the most of it. Use this time to prepare yourself for future times when life may be hard, but at least you know how to live in the present and not regret your decisions down the road. You won’t get this time back, so make the most of it while you still can.
That being said, these are my __ pieces of advice for surviving your senior year of high school, in no particular order.
(And let’s be honest, at this point, you want all the help you can get.)
1) Don’t quit what you love to do.
If you are already accepted into college, you might think that certain things don’t matter, but they do. So, unless you really hated something or your college is okay with you not doing that extracurricular, just push through your last year. You are more likely to regret the things you didn’t do than the things that you did.
One of my regrets was not doing marching band my junior year, but luckily I was able to do it again during my senior year.
I also recommend continuing to go to church if that’s what you’re used to doing before you became a busy senior. Sometimes it’s really easy to just give up on church at this point in your life, but I can personally say that you won’t regret going to church, especially youth group. It may be weird being one of the oldest people in your youth group, but going to church will help you so much as you confront the pressures of big life changes in the next few months. I’ve gotten a lot of good stuff out of church during my senior year of high school, and I grew so much closer to God during that time as well.
2) Go to the school activities that interest you.
For me, I can definitely vouch for this because I regret not going to at least one game for each major sport that my school had. It’s just one of those things that would have been a good experience.
Disclaimer: everything you go to might not be the most fun thing in the world (for me-football games when you’re stuck in the band section and would rather go home to take a nap), but, in the end, they’re part of the high school experience and I’m glad I did participated.
3) Apply to colleges early.
Keep in mind, though, that if you are 99% sure of the school that you want to go to, and have fairly good grades, you can apply to just your number one school. I have plenty of friends who did this and everything worked out really well for them-and they couldn’t be happier with their choice. I’m just a worrier, so I was never really comfortable with doing that. Plus, I didn’t like my first choice school, but I didn’t realize that until later, so I am probably not a good authority on this particular matter. But this semester off hasn’t been the worst thing in the world so far, and I am at peace with my decisions thus far.
This tip is mainly to help you relieve stress down the road, so that you won’t be scrambling to apply before a deadline. Doing so will also make being deferred a little more bearable, since you have other options and more of a possibility for the college to end up accepting you.
4) Spend time with your family and friends whenever you get the chance to.
P.S. It’s great to spend time with your friends, but make sure to put your family first because they are the ones that will always be there for you when push comes to shove. High school friends are great, but a lot of those relationships sadly won’t stand the test of time because people can change so much between their teenage years and post-college years.
5) Get a job and build your savings!
6) Apply to many scholarships.
Scholarships should make up most of the money you use to pay for college, if you can. There are literally thousands upon thousands of scholarships out there, but also thousands upon thousands of students applying for them. So make sure that you apply for really targeted scholarships that fit you well instead of wasting all of your time on scholarships with broad requirements. Chances are higher of you receiving an award if you apply for specific ones (so stay away from really popular scholarship search tools that are more drawing-based.) Local scholarships are great!
I recommend starting this process as early as possible during your senior year. I had a whole folder full of information that I could use- a copy of my transcript, test scores, extracurricular activities, previous used essays, etc. Don’t make the mistake of not applying for scholarships that require recommendations (I waited too long). Find out what is basically required in a solid recommendation and have your teacher(s) print multiple copies so that you can apply to lots of scholarships.
I once heard to apply to one scholarship a week from when you start school to when you graduate, which is a great idea that I didn’t do.
7) Tell someone how you feel.
Even if you are from a small town like I am and you risk the chance of running into them at the grocery store, you don’t really have anything to worry about. It’s not like two 18 year olds are going to be spending all of their free time at Wal-Mart. Soon, (if things don’t actually work out for the two of you) you will both be heading off to different schools in different cities (or states) and you probably won’t see him or her again for a couple years. And by then it won’t be so fresh in your minds so that it won’t matter – you could possibly even bond over how crazy life was back in high school.
And I don't advise telling someone that you hate them. That never ends well.
8) Don't worry about how others think of you.
Don’t necessarily go around dressing like a pig because that actually could affect how they remember you at your 10 year reunion, but don’t act like high school is a fashion show, either. I always thought that you could tell the difference between freshmen and seniors, anyway, based on how nice they dress on a regular basis. I know I didn’t ever really care about impressing anyone in my graduating class.
9) Relax a little!!
So, take that “easy A” course that you’re extremely interested in if you have most or all of your graduations requirements already met. These are the classes that you will probably enjoy the most (I took an apparel class that taught me to sew and it was one of my favorite things I did while in high school.) It’s also good and beneficial to learn new skills.
If you want to take a bunch of honors and AP classes, go right on ahead because there’s nothing wrong with that. But, as I said, don’t stress yourself out or hurt your GPA (your college could still change their minds.)
I wish all of you seniors out there the best of luck with the rest of your school year and I hope that everything goes smoothly for you as you begin the transition to college next fall!
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What is some advice that you would give to high school seniors?