5 Ways To Make The Most Of Senior Year

The summer after junior year is absolute bliss. You've made it! You're finally at the top of your high school. You weathered what everyone told you would be the most difficult year. You survived being an underclassman. Life is good.

But as senior year beckons, so do college applications. As you begin to fall prey to the stress of applying to college and planning your next steps in life, senior year becomes just another hoop to jump through. And, it becomes too easy to start living in the future instead focusing on all of the glorious opportunities afforded by senior year. The temptation is to act as if senior year doesn't even matter, that college is much more important. Maybe I'm suffering from an early case of "senioritis," but it seems hard to focus on the present when there's such an amazing future out there.

Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I need to slow down and appreciate senior year. This is the year I've been looking forward to since I started high school, the year when I can use all of the knowledge and perspective to truly come into my own. So, I hereby resolve to live in the moment and make the most of my senior year, before I am thrust into the all-too-real world of college. I urge you to do the same. Here are five things I plan to keep in mind to make the most of my senior year of high school.

1. Start Something
Throughout high school, you have had the chance to develop and hone your interests. As you prepare to start the next chapter of your life, what better way to make the most of your senior year than by starting something that encompasses and reflects your passions. If you love music, start a club at school for fellow music lovers. Passionate about running, put on a running training camp for aspiring young runners. Enjoy community service? Start a non-profit that benefits a cause meaningful to you. The opportunities are endless, but if you identify your passion, and launch something around it, you are sure to be using your energy thinking about the present instead of getting caught-up in the future!

2. Take a class that challenges you in a new way
You've completed all of the required courses, why not take a class in something completely different? If you're a History/English person, consider taking a class in evolutionary biology. If you're a math geek, try a drawing class. Placing yourself in a slightly uncomfortable environment will help keep you focused on the present while you learn something new... and different. If you don't have room in your school schedule for another class, try taking up something new outside of school, like rock-climbing, the guitar, or auto repairs.

3. Make space from college
In order to ensure that college talk doesn't dominate your life, create a designated space for it! Agree with your friends and family that you'll only talk about college on certain days of the week (or at certain times of day). If you're hanging out with friends and notice the conversation drifting back to the all-too-familiar discussion of test scores, applications, and "the future," try to re-direct it to something more present focused. There's a time and a place for college discussions, but give yourself (and your family) a break!

4. Be a leader and a mentor
You've paid your dues, been a follower. Freshman year you joined clubs and activities, excited about the opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people. Now that you're a senior, embrace leadership opportunities with open arms and use your experience to help groom the next generation of leaders. Find a couple of freshman to mentor. Do your best to help ease their transition into high school. By doing this, you'll have a positive impact on someone else's life and make a sound investment in your high school community.

5. Reconnect with your friends and family
With the unrelenting stress of the high school years, it's easy to get caught up in work and extra-curricular activities and forget to make time for the people who truly matter, your friends and family. Before college comes around, make an effort to reconnect with those from whom you have drifted apart. Reconnecting will help appreciate everything you have in the present and ensure that when you go off to college you'll have a robust support network of friends and family.

Use these five tips, or find your own unique ways, but do your best to get excited about senior year, not only because it means the end of high school but because you still have so much more to learn. Senior year isn't just about transition, it gives you the opportunity to put the finishing touches on the "you" of today before you tackle a brave new world.