Here I am, sitting in 5th period study hall, staring at my computer screen, to-do lists, and my two countdowns (one is for spring break, and the other is for graduation). I’ve had this post in my drafts for a few weeks, and I decided that today is the day to press the magical “publish” button!
With only a few short months left of my senior year of high school, I have compiled this list of essentials and tips about surviving the college application process, senioritis, and the many occurrences that are bound to happen during this very busy and important year. If you’re a rising upperclassmen or senior in high school, hopefully this will be helpful for you – and if you’re not, I hope it at least makes you smile on this otherwise gloomy and 28º Monday of March.
A is for Anticipation
Going into my senior year, I had many expectations – not only of myself, but how I thought things would play out. There is lots of hype that this is the “best year of your life” or the “best year of high school,” and the truth is that it’s whatever you make of it. Senior year doesn’t have to be the absolute highlight of your life, but it can still be an exciting year with more greatness to come!
B is for Being Bombarded with information
From college visits and admission sessions to webinars and meetings with guidance counselors, there are times when you feel like your mind is actually going to explode with sensory overload. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, but make sure to always take note of important dates and deadlines.
C is for College Confidential
I talked about this in a previous post, but seriously…beware of College Confidential! The site is a dumping ground for anxious high school seniors (and even parents…) who post their accolades, test scores, and other information, hoping to compare themselves to others and to estimate the qualifications it takes to get into a certain school. People would also “predict” the day decisions would be released for one of my schools, and I got my hopes up at least five different times – to no avail.
At first, reading through the forums was entertaining, and some of the posts seemed semi-reliable and informational, but I regret getting sucked in…it was not worth my time!
D is for Decisions
Waiting was definitely the most difficult part of the college process. After months of anticipation, I got lots of good news in February!
My advice: If you’re stuck between two or more schools, try emailing or talking to current students to get some honest answers/opinions. It also helps to make a “master” list of pros and cons. Go with your gut. It may be difficult, but trust that you’ll make the right choice in the end.
Committing to one school was a very tough decision, but now, nearly a month later, I am confident that I made the right decision. I can’t wait to be a Florida Gator!
E is for Emotional roller coaster
The milestones and “lasts” of high school are bittersweet (but mostly sweet). Prepare to feel stressed but excited, sentimental yet happy, and nervous but on cloud nine…all at the same time.
F is for Fro-yo.
G is for a Good laugh
I once heard the saying, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” Sometimes, the best therapy is calling a friend and sharing a funny story or laughing about something completely unrelated to school.
H is for Having fun (even if it kills you)
In the midst of throwing yourself a giant pity party, enjoy the fun times with your friends and cherish the things (and people) that you will miss next year. Senior year will be over before you know it!
I is for Inspirational quotes
I am such a quote freak. Having fun desktop backgrounds or looking through Pinterest quotes is a sure-fire way to brighten the mood!
J is for Juggling many things at once
Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean the rapid pace of life slows down. Balancing schoolwork, activities, and applications all at once can be difficult at times, but being involved in extracurriculars and sports helps with time management by leaving little time to procrastinate.
K is for Keeping track of…
…deadlines, due dates, usernames, passwords, URLs. Write down anything and everything you think you might need in the future.
L is for Light at the end of the tunnel
The good thing about senior year is that there is always something to look forward to: graduation!
M is for Movie nights
There is nothing quite like spending a Friday or Saturday night (or both) watching your favorite sappy chick flick. (This applies not only to senior year, but to life in general.)
N is for Nodding and smiling
When in doubt, just nod and smile.
O is for Opportunity
Even through the everyday challenges and frustrations, remember that this is such an exciting time in our lives. There is potential to change, grow, and carve out any path you choose. Many great things are going to happen!
P is for Persistence
Senior year is a balancing act, and it takes a lot of persistence and patience. Stay focused on your goals and know that your hard work will not go unnoticed!
Q is for Quizlet.com
At this point in my educational career, I have learned a lot about my learning style. I highly recommend Quizlet.com for flashcard lovers! On the site, you can create sets of flashcards, test yourself, and play games to learn the terms. You can even print off the cards if you don’t want to stare at a computer or phone screen (there’s a free app, too). I’ve used this website all throughout high school, and I’m sure it will come in handy in the next four years.
R is for Reality check
The unfortunate truth is that the world does not stop turning just because of an accomplishment. Much to my dismay, homework, tests, and high school in general did not vanish once I made my college decision…and that’s just reality.
S is for Siesta
If it’s not already, the 20 minute power nap will become your BFF. Try to allow yourself time to unwind, even when you’re busy.
T is for Tea
Maybe it was just the bitter Ohio winter, but this year, I practically lived off of tea. Late nights during the school week are made instantly less dreadful with a warm cup of happiness.
U is for Uncertainty
With college applications, there is a level of uncertainty, so it’s understandable to feel uneasy or unsure of the future. I probably sound like a broken record, but it’s true: everything will happen for a reason. Even if things don’t go how you planned them in your head, you’ll find a way to make it work!
V is for Vox.com
I recommend this article: “10 things not enough kids know before going to college”
W is for Worrying (about things that work out in the end)
I didn’t believe this when I was going through the stressful processes of applying, waiting, and deciding, but looking back, most of the worries were in my head.
Am I taking the right classes? Is my ACT score high enough? What could I have done differently? These are all questions that passed through my mind at some point. In the grand scheme of things, it’s exhausting to worry about things that are in the past or that you can’t change. As long as you’ve done your best, you can’t ask for anything else.
X is for eXtraordinary
When writing essays for college or scholarship applications, always aim to incorporate something that is characteristic of you. Whether it’s relating a unique personal story to the prompt or appropriately using humor, make sure that when you re-read your essay, you think, “Wow, that’s very…me.”
Y is for YouTube
YouTube is a great resource for information on schools you are looking into. I have found that colleges’ official YouTube pages mostly contain advertisements that are clearly designed to make you want to go to the school, but I still find it interesting to watch the videos. YouTube is also perfect for dorm decoration ideas and other “college advice” videos.
Z is for getting in the Zone (mostly because I couldn’t think of anything else that started with ‘z’)
This might be a given, but it’s important to dedicate a workspace where you can get some serious work done on essays, applications, and schoolwork. With multiple deadlines and due dates, staying focused and motivated is key.
Rising seniors, there are so many moments or events that I thought would define my entire year or even the next four years, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the highest ACT score in the class or if not every day is your best day ever. As long as you feel you’ve done your best, that’s all that matters – that goes for high school, college admissions, and the future.
Best of luck,
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