All you high school seniors, this one’s for you. Or if you’re just feeling nostalgic, this one could also be for you. Either way works for me. I wish I could’ve gotten this up earlier since you’re almost a month into school already…better late than never? We’ll go with that.
Senior year. It’s both incredibly exciting and slightly insane. There’s so much to look forward to! There’s also a whole lot that has to get done in a 180(ish) day timeframe. It can be a little daunting! But no worries, it’ll all come together and it will be AWESOME. Being the first one out of the nest in my family meant that I didn’t really have a path to follow from older siblings, so it was most definitely a learning process for me. I did pick up a few nuggets of (hopefully) gold that can help save your precious time and money. As I’m sitting here writing this, my roommate Virginia and I are brainstorming even more!
Here we go:
- Make a list of all the schools in your state that offer your major. I say “in your state” because generally, in-state tuition is A LOT more affordable than out of state. Early on in my senior year, I had all these dreams of going to school in Chicago, or Michigan, or basically anywhere BUT Florida. When I looked at the price tag, though, Florida quickly became my new best friend. (And honestly, I’m so glad I did stay in-state!)
- Narrow that list down to about 3-5. If there are some schools that you just aren’t feeling, don’t waste the money on the application. At thirty bucks a pop PLUS the cost to send SAT/ACT scores, it’s not worth it.
- Senioritis is only as real as you make it. Trust me on this one. You’re only going to cause more stress by telling yourself you’re plagued with it. Honestly guys, I used it as an excuse to be lazy. Laziness makes you procrastinate, procrastination makes you stress, and stress makes you just wanna curl up into a ball and wish you could trade lives with your cat. It’s a vicious cycle.
- Use a planner/Google Calendar. This goes for anyone, really, but I say this to seniors especially because THERE ARE SO MANY DEADLINES. Not only do you have to keep track of homework and tests for your classes, you also have to stay on top of college application deadlines, ACT/SAT dates, scholarship deadlines, etc. Side note, I just discovered the magic of Google Calendar, and I WISH I had known about it senior year. I tend to be a hardcore struggler when it comes to time management, and Google Calendar has helped me finally learn that a lot can get done in a 24 hour timeframe if you just plan it right.
- Schedule senior pictures EARLY. If you choose to have casual model-y type senior pictures done, I would highly recommend getting those done between October-February. I waited to get mine done in April. Let me just say to you that April is by far the craziest month of the school year, especially for seniors. I had something going on every single weekend, so I kinda had to just squeeze my picture session in wherever I could fit it. That time ended up being the day after Grad Bash (a senior-only night at Universal, lasting until 2am), and I had gotten approximately 5.5 hours of sleep the night before. So, if you want to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for your pictures, schedule them while you still have plenty of time. Also, since I waited so long to get my pictures, I ended up sending out my graduation announcements on the actual day of graduation. Oops.
- Keep a folder on your computer of all your college/scholarship application essays. Most application essay prompts tend to be along the same lines, so you’ll probably be able to recycle your essays multiple times. I basically used the same essay for all of my college applications, and I’d just tweak it here and there to fully answer the prompt.
- Make your application essay YOU. College admissions officers know your GPA, test scores, and classes you’ve taken, club involvement etc. You don’t need to include a list of everything you’ve accomplished–that’s what the application’s for. The essay is your voice in the admissions process, so be yourself! Most of the prompts will be something like “Tell us your story/about yourself/why you think _____ University is right for you,” etc. Personally, I’d say focus in on a specific area of your high school career in which you felt the most growth. I chose to write about the first time I acted on stage, and how that experience helped me to overcome my shyness and helped me become the person I am today (well, the person I was my senior year, technically). Make sure whatever you choose to write about is something you’re passionate about. (Rule of thumb: if you cry/laugh/feel emotional while writing, chances are it’s something that you care about.)
- Don’t let the price tag of a school scare you off. I applied to a couple of private schools thinking I’d never be able to afford them, but financial aid officers are very willing to work with you! Private schools give a lot of scholarship money, so it doesn’t hurt to apply if it’s one you’re interested in.
- Don’t feel pressured to go to a big university right away. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to a community college first! I felt like I would be missing out on the college experience by going to a community college, but I’m noticing community colleges nearby large universities are able to be involved in all the clubs and organizations that the big school offers. Plus, it’s a smart move financially. I’m beginning to realize that now…
- Take advantage of all your school has to offer. Go to homecoming, date or not. Attend all the games and cheer at the top of your lungs for your team. Be involved your senior year; though you won’t have as many classes that require you to be on campus, I’d encourage you to resist the urge to go home and watch Netflix. Do an elective not because you need the credit, but to develop relationships with teachers and simply to learn something new. Make your senior year a memorable one.
- Push yourself. I’d also encourage you to not take the bare minimum when it comes to classes your senior year. Colleges want to see that you haven’t checked out and that you’re still working hard. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t. You will survive your AP classes, and THEY REALLY WILL HELP YOU ONCE YOU GET TO COLLEGE. I am by no means a math person, but I took AP Calculus and I’m still here, so…
- Spend time with friends and family, and get to know your hometown. In a matter of months, you’ll be surrounded by a whole new group of people, and you won’t have the luxury of sitting down to dinner with your parents and siblings, adventuring with friends, or even just seeing each and every one of them everyday. This is the last year that you’ll be living at home permanently, and I’m sure a lot of you are itching for independence (homegirl can relate), but soak up every minute you have with your parents and siblings. I promise you, you will miss them.
- Finally, cherish each moment, because time goes by so fast. I’m sure a million people have already told you this, but senior year FLIES. Seriously, it’s like you blink and then it’s over. It’ll be busy and wild and chaotic, but it’s going to be one of those years that you’ll look back on and think to yourself, “wow, that year was freaking fantastic.” So make the most of each minute!
If you made it this far, go you. I didn’t realize how long this was until I glanced at the word count, which is basically equivalent to a small research paper.
To all you seniors, I hope you’re having an incredible year so far, and that it just keeps getting better! Work hard, be involved, and love every minute. You got this, Class of 2017.