As the summer break nears its end, many of you will start off with our senior year of high school. Having graduated high school and preparing for college abroad (as the first in my immediate family), I reflected upon the things that have now made my senior year a cherished memory and made me gain the most out of it. I share them with you with the hope that you make the most out of senior year, too.
Senior year is the time when you have to prioritize things in accordance with your best interests. If you haven’t thought about this seriously until now, there is no better the time. I cannot stress the importance of prioritizing enough. It will help you outline a map of how to spend the rest of the year, and develop punctuality and a healthy work ethic in you, which will be very beneficial in the long run.
2. College Applications Process
Prepare yourself mentally to walk the extra mile when it comes to college applications. This is what you’ll spend most of your time in, and your future is dependent upon how dedicated you are to this process. I use the word process because the application period needs to be treated like a process which spans over a period of time. If you haven’t already, start making your college list. One tip that will surely help you and ease the list making is the three-tier formula. After a conversation regarding this topic, the English Department Head of the University of Northern Texas explained to me that the list should be built upon three tiers; (1) Choices that are long shots but you may have a chance of getting into. Most of the high-ranked colleges/Universities fall into this tier. (2) Colleges and Universities that, upon reviewing the requirements, you feel like you have a very good chance of getting into and are well-reputed into the bargain. Colleges in this tier are listed as the most compatible colleges (the ones that you’ll be content in). (3) Backup Colleges/Universities for most of which you may already be overqualified. Another tip for this point is to start reading college essays. Websites like Writeforthefuture.com have brilliant essays that can be viewed online. The purpose for reading them is to familiarize yourself with the body of the essays and to know how you should structure your essay. When writing the essay, remember to get it reviewed as many times as possible (I had to rewrite mine 5 times). This is because with every rewrite, the essay becomes a better version of the one it was. You may have missed what another person could point out
3. Choose The Right College
The process doesn’t end at the acceptance letter(s); the other half of the struggle is when you have to choose between colleges. Remember to not fall into the trap of choosing the highest ranked college right off the bat but rather follow the prudent way and choose the college which suits you better. Malcolm Gladwell, in ‘David and Goliath’ reviewed a high school topper who got into Brown and the University of Maryland. Because she fell into the trap, she chose Brown and ended up taking introductory classes and getting straight Bs and Cs (Grades she had never seen in her life). Upon asking her, Gladwell found that with hindsight, she realized that Maryland was her better fit. I was accepted into both Georgetown University and Dickinson College, and sed by many to choose Georgetown, but I steered clear from the trap and have found Dickinson to be the right fit for me. So make sure you don’t fall into the trap of going into a place where you won’t fit in and visit the college campus to get a picture of what it’s like on a normal day. However, if you feel like you’ll excel in a high-ranked college and are accepted, you should opt for it.
4. The SAT
Do not take the risk of taking the SAT closest to the application deadlines, this will likely yield a low score because of the pressure and the high percentiles. Instead, take the SAT twice. The first try will not only show you the areas that need improvement, but it will also familiarize you with the test setting, which is the key to getting a better score.
If you haven’t already, engage in community work and volunteer for anything you get a chance to. Don’t do it for the sake of having a better college profile, but do it for the experience, for opportunities like this give you a lot to learn and help in building your personality as well.
6. Be Prepared To Lose Friends
Senior Year makes almost everyone dawn upon the realization that they’ll be losing friends. While this is right, it’s nothing to be scared of, because you’ll be losing quantity and gaining quality. Also, the friendships that last through Senior Year are the ones that last a lifetime, so focus on strengthening the ones that’ll last.
7. Manage The Stress
In your senior year, if you’re stressed out with juggling the application process, academics, extra-curricular activities and personal commitments altogether, you’re on the right track. Especially around November, when you have to meet the deadlines, know that you’re doing something right and this stress will land you in an ideal place in a few months. This will also be a training period for the times that are to come ahead. If it gets too much though, take a day off and go paint-balling or hang out with your friends. Your health holds the highest priority.
8. Compartmentalize Your Life
Senior Year is the first time you have to draw the line between your personal life and your professional one. Do not forget it’s called personal for a reason; it has to be dealt with personally. Do not let it be an impediment to your academics or the college application process or an excuse otherwise.
It’s worth mentioning here that selectivity in commitments is always beneficial. Not only does it save you the detrimental effects (both personal and professional) of not fulfilling commitments, it also helps you Prioritize, as mentioned in the first point.
Lastly, do not let a lot of things consume you and make you lose focus from your academics. If your GPA is good so far, it can drop. If it’s not that good, it can rise. Senior Year is what differentiates these two and a good GPA on your Final Transcript is also very beneficial to you.