What to know before senior year


The Mirror reporter

As the school year comes to an end, seniors like myself are finishing their last days of high school. As a senior, I’ve learned a lot of things I wish someone would’ve shared with me before I started 12th grade. Here are 10 things I wish I would’ve known before senior year.

  1. It’s never too early to start preparing

Between taking the ACT and applying for colleges, it’s never too early to start working for the future. Though finishing your testing before senior fall is ideal, sometimes reality hits you in the face with a frying pan. If someone had suggested I study a little sooner (cough, cough, summer before junior year), things would be a whole lot easier now.

  1. Don’t try to be something you’re not

There are two things colleges want to see in your essay. First and foremost, they want to know that you can write coherently and use proper punctuation. Secondly, they want to see passion. If I’m being blatantly honest, the topic itself isn’t even important. If what you say isn’t genuine, it will crash and burn. It’s weird, I know, but write from your heart.

  1. You may not fall in love with a college

After visiting the tenth college, you may start to panic. Why didn’t any of them seem perfect? How come you didn’t love the campus? Will you fit in anywhere? Here’s the truth: that heart-wrenching “this is the place for me” feeling might never come. Between the tour, brochures and hours of research, you still won’t know what it feels like to be an actual student. Trust your instincts on this one. You’ll find yourself happily adapting to wherever you go.

  1. It’s important to have an outlet

There will be tears. You will throw objects. Don’t let the stress and expectations suffocate you. The way you avoid hitting overdrive is by finding an outlet that allows you to cool off. Excessively working will psychologically burn you out, do yourself a favor and find an escape.

  1. Don’t fall into the “senioritis” trap

Just because it’s the last year of high school doesn’t mean you can slack off. Grades DO matter the last year of high school. In fact, those might be the most important grades on your overall transcript. Those are the grades that “officially” determine if you’ve been accepted by a college or not. Yes, it’s okay to take breaks from work because we’re human. We’re not made to constantly work. But slacking off just because you think you can get away with everything is completely wrong. Take it from me, I’ve used the “I’m a senior so I don’t have to do this because I’m basically done,” excuse a lot. Let me tell you, it doesn’t work.

  1. Have a teacher who knows you beyond the classroom

Towards the end of junior year, you will have to consider which teacher is going to write your recommendation. This rec is not to be taken lightly. If someone is going to speak on your behalf, make sure that they are going to fight for you to the death. “Hardworking” and “good input” is not going to make you stand out from 20,000 other applicants. Schedule a lunch to discuss what is important to you outside of the classroom so that the teacher can speak holistically.

  1. Sometimes, a “mental health day” is necessary

Don’t mistake this tip for having anything to do with relaxing on the couch while watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad. A mental health day is the emergency eject button of high school. If things get too insane — you have two tests, an essay and an ACT tutor coming over tomorrow — you might just need space and quiet to get things done. No, it is not acceptable to make “playing hooky” a part of your weekly itinerary or to use it to avoid finals. This get-out-of-jail-free card should be handled with care.

  1. What you think you want and what you actually want are two different things

Don’t choose to go to a college just because your best friend is going there. Don’t go to a college just because they have the nicest dorms. Don’t decide to attend a college based on how many nights in a week students party. The best thing for you is to decide what YOU want. Not your parents, counselor, significant other or friends. Choosing a college is one of the most life-changing decisions you’ll ever make. Make it count. Make sure you’re happy rather than trying to please others.

  1. Time works in mysterious ways

Does it feel like your life is flashing before your eyes? Mine does. Someone pressed fast-forward and forgot to let go. Here we are, on a never-ending roller coaster ride, blurring the colors and experiences into one adrenaline-pumping vein of time. Where I’ll turn up, I cannot begin to predict. All I can hope is that I have made the most of what I’ve been given. Search for that pause button. High school will be gone before you know it.

  1. Have fun

Whether you hate high school or love high school, it’s still important to have fun. We only have one life to live, don’t waste it on hating every moment. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Do something that makes you happy. Go to a football game. Have a sleepover with your best friends. Participate in a Fortnite tournament with the bros. In 20 years you’ll most likely never see these people again. Call it bittersweet, but over the past 12 years, you have built relationships with people you grew up with. Don’t let those memories fade, rekindle with old friends. Tell that person you’ve had a crush on them since the second grade. I honestly regret not taking advantage of my senior year. I thought I’d have a lot of time to make memories with my friends before college, but I didn’t realize how fast time was flying.

As I’m sitting here finishing my last article for The Mirror, I can honestly say I’ll miss high school, actually more the people, rather than the school work. It’s crazy to think I’ve waited all my life to graduate high school. However, I’m beyond ready for college and to start the next chapter of my life. I wish you the best of luck as they continue their journey through high school.