Last week, TP editorial intern Tisya Mavuram gave our rising junior readers a primer on how the handle the (in)famous junior year, and it only felt appropriate to give our rising seniors one as well.
Senior portraits! Cap and gown orders! Homecoming! Prom! Graduation! COLLEGE APPS! (Flipping out already? Breathe.)
Let’s jump right in:
1. College applications will be everyone’s go-to conversation topic. Given that, it’ll get overwhelming to keep hearing about it. Again. And again. From friends, teachers, parents (yours and friends’), even strangers if they know you’re a senior. For the first few conversations, the most common question will be “Where are you applying? What’s your dream school?” Take these with ease. More likely than not, your college list and desires in a school will change a little throughout the process, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s more than okay to say you’re not sure, still researching your options, or brush it off entirely. A conversation is a dialogue, and you are at no pressure to have to answer to things that will add to your application stress.
Having said that, beware that the more you tell, the more people know. It is a natural process for people to fill in “gaps” with assumptions, and since it is impossible to know everything about someone’s life – or here, app process – judgement are bound to happen. We all do it. Just know, and nobody will admit to it, but seniors will start mentally “cataloging” who’s applying where, what their decisions are, what majors/programs they’re into…which leads to my next point.
2. You’ll learn so much more about people this year than every other year combined. Along with the college applications chatter, when you hear where people want to go and the programs they’re into, or when you’re sharing essay examples, you’ll start talking (and asking questions) about where these ideas and interests come from. Applications and the idea of leaving the bubble of high school have you and your classmates talking more about your dreams and differentiating yourself as you search what school or post-grad plans fit each individual best. Not only is it the next four years of your life that you’re deciding on, but the first time a majority of your classmates will have major independence. “With independence comes increased responsibility” as the saying goes, and seeing what your fellow seniors desire to do with that independence and responsibility shows you so much more than you understood about them before.
3. Of course, you’ll learn so much more about yourself this year, too. When you’re spending more time with friends, wondering where you’ll all be in a year, you’re going to discover what you loved about high school (there’s always something there, even if you deny it), or what you heartily appreciated in your relationships with various people. If you’re anything like me, talking to your parents about things like senior events and college applications and future plans is (semi-)terrifying, and even bringing up the topic takes some sitting down and thinking through before I toss out my ideas.
Through college applications, getting bombarded with inquisitive questions like UChicago’s, “Tell us your favorite joke” prompt has you pondering various ideas at an ungodly hours of the night. “What is my favorite joke? What would writing about this joke say about me? What do I want to say about me? Who am I? What am I? What is this? What’s the meaning of life? Oh right, the joke.” Even filling out the “application” (non-essay) part was self-reflective: “Look at all the things and activities I’ve done! Wow, I’m going to really miss that club…and I’m totally not going to miss that one I dropped years ago. Hey, check out how far I’ve come from being an awkward pubescent!” Really, you’re awesome, and your ego deserves to be fed (just enough, not too much of course)!
4. Prom is overrated. Alternate wording: Stick to what you love. For the first time ever, my Science Olympiad team qualified for the state competition and couldn’t be more excited. Turns out, it landed on the same day as prom. One of the VPs congratulated our team, and told us that she’d gladly go to the competition with us (four hours away) so that she could take all the seniors back home early from states to go to ball.
We all looked at each other, and the unanimous consensus was: “Uhm…we’re the school’s resident science dorks. Thanks! But no thanks.” I can say honestly that competing at states was one of my proudest, and favorite events of senior year, and definitely a huge highlight of my high school years. No doubt that prom in junior year was fun and a great event to remember, but SciOly states was something to be so proud of, and I wouldn’t give that up for ritzy dresses and bad music.
5. Senioritis: The Epitome of “The Struggle”. The sorta-caring-but-not-really and I’m-SO-done feeling…honestly, I think it’s something that only comes once in your life, and that’s your second semester of senior year. You think it doesn’t exist? Or you’re immune? Nobody is spared. (Cue evil, maniacal, laughter.)
Here’s a sneak peek: Netflix and Facebook by night; quick write up of homework by morning. Do relax, and enjoy this year, but Don’t. Fall. Into. The. Trap. Your first semester grades (no matter what anyone else tells you) do matter for applications! The schools that don’t ask for mid-year (first semester) reports will ask for your entire transcript – all of senior year included – before you start college. Students do get their admissions revoked (called being rescinded) for poor performance in either semester of their senior year.
6. Live in the moment, but look toward the future. It’s like walking. Your feet are on the ground – you need to stay grounded, stable, and have even footing to keep standing up while moving forward while not falling flat on your face. At the same time, you need to keep looking up and forward. If you keep staring down where you are, at the ground under your feet (just in the moment and situation you’re in) you’ll quickly lose what direction you’re going in, run into obstacles that you could’ve managed or planned for if you were looking up. You’ll wind up somewhere with no idea where you are, or where you’re going, or where you’ve been. Keep looking up, and I say that with the fullest double meaning.
These are all senior-specific lessons, but it would be a disservice to you if I didn’t reiterate every lesson Tisya shared! They always have, and always will, be relevant:
- Don’t procrastinate. Ever.
- Grades aren’t everything.
- Learn to let things go.
- Believe in yourself.
Love the next ten months ahead. Live in the next ten months ahead. And keep walking.