Advice for Senior Year

By Nicole Zelazko, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Following the worst year of your life (I wish I could say I’m exaggerating), comes senior year. This may sound like the most cliche, wow-high-school-passed-so-quick-omg type of story that boasts about how quickly the past 4 years have gone, and how it seems like it was just yesterday where you were driving to school blasting Taylor Swift’s “15,” but this is genuine advice for what is about to come. Senior year was, hands down, the best year of my life. Besides the stress of college applications (and college rejection letters, that was no bueno), this is the year where everything comes together. It’s the year where you’ll become closest with your current friends due to the high nostalgiac euphora, but it’s also the year where you’ll meet people you wish you had known throughout all of high school. No matter what lens you look at it through, it’s your time to thrive. So, take my advice, and have the best senior year. You deserve it.

1. Get Ahead 

It’s a known fact that once second semester hits, you shut down. It’s what they call s-e-n-i-o-r-i-t-i-s. Personally, I thought this fad was something that the not-so-bright kids used as an excuse to continue doing (or not doing) what the have been doing the past four years. But, it’s true. Even the smartest kids in my classes shut down. The key to getting away with not doing anything is to have a killer first semester. Though the college search stress becomes heavy, make sure to keep your grades up- it still matters, no matter what people say.

I ended my first semester with the best grades I’ve had throughout my career, which bumped my cumalative GPA about .3, later helping me when applying for scholarships, as well as showing colleges I stayed motivated with my classes. I did this by using my time wisely by getting ahead in everything right when the week started. I would take one day, usually a Monday or Tuesday, and spend the whole day doing my homework in my classes and getting ahead outside of school, too. Suffering for one day opened up my whole week and it was worth it. But, second semester? That’s another story.

2. Do Your College Research 

The college admissions process is bittersweet, to say the least. Researching schools and applying to the ones who you’ve been following for years, whether they’re your favorite sports team or your mom’s alma mater, is exciting. That was the case for me. For many of my friends, though, it was the opposite. Some had not thought about college ever, and one even thought the “Common Application” was a game for your phone. It’s okay to have no idea what school you want to go to- almost no one does. One mistake I made was not researching schools thouroughly.

My first school list was the top 10 best campuses in the nation. Thank you to whoever made me delete it and start over. I then made a long google doc, going through each and every state individually and writing down any school I was even the slightest bit interested in. Don’t be stupid and apply to 15 schools like I did, with over half of those being reach schools (get rejected from all of them), and then choosing the first school you applied and got into. I wasted SO much time and money on stupid supplement essays and application fees, only to find out the school doesn’t even offer my major. Do. Your. Research. And don’t you dare apply to 15 schools and go after the “might as well try to say I did!” That’s a great way to think, but pick 3 schools you won’t get into, not 7.

3. Use Your Resources 

Even though the Common Application is pretty easy to navigate, FAFSA (and just about any financial aid service) is not. Although the “College Nights” seem endless, make sure to take advantage of them. Sitting a few hours in the auditorium won’t kill you, even though it may seem like it will. Many times, it says that the night is for your parents, but sometimes your parents won’t be as tech-savvy and understanding of all the information as you are. Go with them. These are things you don’t want to miss on, because if you do, you won’t get vital information for this whole process.

If you make a mistake in this tedious process, it can linger into not getting enough financial aid, missing a deadline, and all of the nightmares that come along with that. You’d rather wait 15 minutes in line to talk to Mr. Gin than to wait 2 hours to talk to an admissions representative on the phone at your dream school about why they gave you zero dollars because you didn’t fill out the required documents correctly. Go to everything you can- you’ll be 15 steps ahead of the kids that don’t.

4. Always Say “Yes”

I owe the majority of the best things that have happened to me this past year to the word “yes.” Yes, I’ll go to lunch with you and your friend. Yes, I’ll come with you to the baseball game. Yes, I’ll work on homework with you tonight. It’s really the little things that add up. You never know if that one lunch causes you to meet a new best friend, or if going to that sporting event and talking to a parent of a player helps you make a new choice with new wisdom. When looking at your life, it is easy to fall into looking at the big events. Rather than doing this, start small. If you’re working on homework and someone asks you to go grab a bite to eat with them, go. Do the homework later.

Because I tried so hard to never say “no” to anyone this year, I’ve made a handful of new friends and have really impacted people by showing that I care enough to be there for them. Seeing someone at your game or spending 15 minutes at the Starbucks drive thru shows that you care to be in someones company. Take it easy, especially second semester. Don’t freak out if you have an assignment due the next day- go out, and do it later. That may seem nervewrecking, but you get used to it. More times than not, you’ll be able to catch up and do it at school since teachers are much more leniant with you once second semester rolls around. My best memories were from saying “yes” to the little things, and that’s my best piece of advice. It really did make all of the difference.

Thank me later.

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