I once heard legends of the carefree spring that was supposed to be my final semester at high school. Once I had submitted my college apps, nothing else would really matter – as long as I didn’t flunk out or get arrested, I would be on my way to some college in the fall. It’s a siren song to anyone fighting the storm of high school – but in my experience, it was completely false.
Now, I realize this isn’t the case for everyone. But there’s a good way to determine how busy you might be your spring semester: ask yourself, do I care about things? If the answer is no, then congratulations! You’re in for an easy semester. If the answer is yes, however, you may have some work ahead of you. Here are five reasons why you may not be done minute you hit your spring semester:
1. The specter of the waitlist
First and foremost, if you have your heart set on a reach school, spring semester is no time to slack off. Getting in off the waitlist is unlikely, but there are steps you can take to make your chances a little better. A lower-than-usual grade is not one of them. The last thing you want to worry about when you’re trying to play the waitlist is how your chances would’ve been different if you had studied harder for that one test.
2. The possibility of AP/IB credit
Even assuming you’ve been accepted early at your dream school, it’s still a good idea to earn some AP/IB credit so you can skip the boring intro classes once you get to college. You might be able to get a 5 on an AP exam by only paying attention for half the class, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying.
3. Scholarship applications
Just because your college applications are in doesn’t mean your applications are over. The deadlines for some scholarships can extend well into the spring. Also, if you’re lucky enough to move past the application stage for a school-specific scholarship, you may have to continue preparing various materials until as late as April.
4. Extracurricular perfection
As long as you weren’t doing them just to put them on your résumé, it’s entirely likely you’ll want to devote yourself to your extracurriculars before you leave. For me, I was driven to put more time and effort into them than usual, just because I wanted to do my best while I still could.
5. Leaving a good impression
This is one of those things that seems obvious, but stop to think about it: in your final semester, you are setting the terms for the future of your relationships. If you’ve read this far, it’s because you care about something – and even if you had a handful of teachers you never want to see again, it’s entirely likely there’s one or two people at your school you might care about.
So even if you think you don’t need to get good grades or keep up with your extracurriculars in your final semester, consider those around you. Think of the students who look up to you, your teachers who count on you, and the peers you work with. You can blow them off, sure – but in many ways, carrying through with the commitments you made during the rest of your high school career is simply a matter of respect.
The spring semester of your senior year is definitely a distinctive one. No matter how you feel about your impending graduation, your final semester will bring new challenges and new rewards. But as long as you care about your school, the one thing it won’t bring is a lighter workload. Resist the siren song of slacking off, set a strong course to graduation, and you can make your own legends.