HOLLA. It’s your last year of high school. You are 180 or so school days away from walking across that stage and yelling out a resounding, “SEE YA!” as you pull out of what is, undoubtedly, a mess of a parking lot. But you aren’t done yet. Here are a few things to keep in mind; this is a special year, and I hope you have a blast!
- COLLEGE DECISIONS – Before you start learning your new alma mater march, you have to apply to your next education destination. There are SO many choices. Maybe you know whole-heartedly where you will be, and maybe you have no clue. Weigh all of your options, and don’t feel pressured to going to a school for one reason or another. Figure out what you want most in your education, talk with your parents, go on campus tours, talk to students, and make a decision best for YOU. Don’t be discouraged about acceptance statistics or financial aid. The least you can do is apply. Keep your options open, but never settle. And fill out the dang FAFSA.
- COLLEGE APPLICATIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS – Do not procrastinate on your applications. SERIOUSLY. Schools have strict deadlines for applications and varying types of application dates. If you are set on a school, you may want to look into Early Decision or Early Action (just be sure to read the fine print, ED is binding). Be accurate and honest in the info you give. Pay attention to all requirements for acceptance! Almost every school requires letters of recommendation. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE DAY BEFORE/DAY IT IS DUE TO ASK. “Mrs. So And So, can you write me a quick recommendation for Harvard? It’s due in like thirty minutes.” The answer will be no. Ask teachers who know you well, teachers who can vouch for your work ethic and your character. It’s okay if you didn’t ace their classes (as long as you weren’t a slouch). A recommendation from someone who made you work and knows your strengths and weaknesses will mean more than a recommendation from someone who only ever saw you succeed (or fail). You want to ask teachers you trust and respect who will give an honest, well-rounded testimony on your behalf. Give them plenty of time to write your recs – I guarantee you will not be the only student to ask them.
- YOU STILL HAVE CLASSES NOW – College is right around the corner, but senior year is right now. You still have expectations and goals to meet. Do not give up on your high school education as those acceptance letters come rolling in. Colleges will still monitor your progress. And, you owe it to yourself and your teachers to work hard and be the best you can be. You leave a legacy no matter how big or how small when you leave. Do you want to be remembered as a future presidential nominee/saint or the kid who spilled a Coke on the carpet one time and finished with a C? Work hard and pay attention in class. High school classes are much smaller than college classes. Take advantage of opportunities to ask questions and learn in this personal environment. This is the last year you will be in class with all of your friends you have known since birth; challenge them to do well, and come graduation day, you all will be able to take a gazillion pictures with your fancy cords and medallions that the kids who spilled Coke did not receive.
- IT IS NEVER TOO LATE – Is there a club you have always wanted to join? Do you want to sing in choir? Do you want to learn more of the language you kinda sorta remember from your two sections of required foreign language? DO IT. Now is not really the time to get started on padding that college application, but it is definitely a a time to do everything you have wanted to do if humanly possible. After you graduate, some of those opportunities disappear. So, go to that Student Council meeting and help plan the Pep Rally (so it isn’t a dismal occasion). Sign up to be a tutor and let kids call you at 11:30 p.m. the night before a test and respond to, “I don’t know what any of this even means.” (Being a tutor is actually super rewarding, I promise). Do not miss out on opportunities that could enhance your high school experience and allow you to make an impression because you think you are too late. Just be sure you are participating for the right reasons and not just for the sake of your applications…
- CHERISH THIS TIME WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND TEACHERS – Write this on a thousand Post-It notes and stick it everywhere there is an open space. One year from now, you will not be sharing your life with the same people. Don’t shut people out because you know the goodbyes will be hard; pull them in closer. Suffocate them with affection. Go to games, concerts, and plays and cheer for/with your friends. Go to prom just for the heck of it. You may end up on completely opposite ends of the country in a year’s time, so have fun together and let them know how much you love them. Tell your favorite teachers how much they mean to you and explain the impact they had on your life. (Shoutout to mine – I love you all). Get contact information from anyone and everyone so you can always stay in touch – you may not talk everyday, but it is always a great feeling to get a text saying, “hey, hope you are doing well,” or an email saying, “I’m very proud of you.” Thank your parents for their support and love – this is a special time for them too. Throw the remote at your sibling(s) for old times sake. And keep family and friends close but your pets closer…you can’t call them and ask how they are doing next year…You will make great friends in college, but keep these bonds alive and well!
Best of luck in your endeavors. If you know me personally and have any questions about life after high school, text, call, or shoot me an email. If you don’t know me but still want more advice, comment in the thread below. And DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Senioritis is worse than Zika. Okay, maybe not. But you never know…