The fall of one’s high school senior year is notoriously difficult. On top of schoolwork and extracurriculars, students have to juggle college applications, senioritis, and the realization that this is their last year of high school. For many people, it is the most stressed-out they have ever been. Having three older siblings, I have known about this for years and braced myself for what was to come. So I was surprised when I finished my first term of 12th grade and realized that it really was not any different from previous semesters. Sure, there were challenging moments, but there were no horror stories like those I had heard. If you clicked on this article, chances are you want to have a relatively stress-free senior fall. But don’t worry — in this listicle are tips and tricks for you to achieve this.
- College Applications
There’s a lot you can’t control this year, but one thing you can control is when you start your college application. Even though the Common Application doesn’t open until August 1st, the personal essay prompts stay mostly the same, and either way, these questions are general enough that almost any piece of writing about who you are would be able to answer them. I personally did not start drafting my personal statement until the first or second week of August, and it worked out for me, but you can start writing yours as soon as you want. Take advantage of school resources and community organizations for college support (Teens in Print can also help)! Besides your college essay, make sure you have spoken with those writing your recommendation letters (this conversation would preferably already have happened in your junior year) to ensure that there is no last-minute scramble. I watched my brother go through this, and it was not pleasant. During the summer before senior year, you should also research and explore colleges. Go on college tours, attend info sessions, and ask questions so you can narrow down your college list. You’ll probably have less time in the school year to do all of these things, so make sure to get it done now. Lastly, keep a calendar! I cannot emphasize this enough. There will be so many deadlines that will be difficult to keep track of, so a calendar is imperative to have, not just for college applications, but also for everything else.
Unfortunately, grades still matter when you’re a senior. In fact, your Term 1 senior year grades are often the most important ones, as they are the best reflection of your current academic standing. It will feel very easy to slack off (many times, I have caught myself thinking that teachers shouldn’t be grading me because I’m a senior — the power of being the oldest at your school really gets to your head). Some teachers understand the pressure we’re going through, and they’re nice about the workload, but most of them are not. For the latter type, I recommend taking advantage of office hours and if necessary, asking for extra credit. They may refuse this request, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Also by now, you have hopefully learned how to study, so continue to employ the methods that work best for you. Remind yourself how far you’ve gotten — you don’t want to throw that all away just because you feel lazy.
Your extracurriculars this year are probably the most important they have ever been for you because you’ve chosen to stick with them for so long. It’s also likely that, as a senior, you now have a few leadership roles. Extracurriculars can be great — you’re able to do what you’re interested in and see friends, but they can also sometimes be too much. I have a bad habit of piling on more and more extracurriculars and instead of these activities being something I look forward to, they become stressful, and I have no time for myself. If this sounds like you, take my advice and drop the ones you don’t care as much about. I did that, and it was a great decision. At the same time, however, don’t be afraid to try something new just because you feel like it’s not worth it when you’re about to graduate from high school. There are so many opportunities around you, and it’s never too late to join a club or sport!
Unless you and your friends from school are going to the same college, you’ll likely be in different cities, states, or even countries next year. And while friendships can remain strong beyond high school, it won’t be the same. So savor these last moments of eating in the cafeteria with them, walking to class together, and seeing each other basically every day. Also, I encourage you to take part in senior activities with them! At my school, seniors have Wacky Wednesdays every week, and people like to dress up with their friends. Whatever your school has, I would encourage you to participate, as they are fun traditions to celebrate how far you have come!
Last but not least, I hope you are spending as much time as you can with the people who have raised you. My parents will be empty nesters once I leave, and I am trying to make my last days with them count. Sometimes, you can be so busy that you forget to be with those who care the most about you. There have certainly been many times when I have been stressed about an assignment and then felt better after taking a walk with them. Don’t regret wasting your last year truly being dependent on your family.
Hopefully, this listicle has been helpful for you in navigating the fall of your senior year. You don’t have to be super stressed out! You are the most important thing, so don’t prioritize grades or extracurriculars over your mental health. Remember that you can say no if you don’t feel like doing something. Have fun, and know that you’re only a senior in high school once!