Graduates throw their caps in excitement! Photo by Pang Yuhao on Unsplash
Graduates throw their caps in excitement! Photo by Pang Yuhao on Unsplash
Pang Yuhao

5 Tips For Rising Seniors and Advice from a Harvard Student

Rising seniors, you’re about to enter your last year of high school, here are some tips to make it your best! Scheduling at Patriot High School for juniors was done in the second and third week of February. By now, you should have a good snapshot of what your senior year will look like. If you’re unsure of your final schedule or change your mind about a class or two, you have until May to adjust your schedule. While junior year is typically considered the most difficult year in high school, senior year is an obstacle on its own and it’s arguably the most important and fun of the four years. If you choose to pursue higher education, you’ll face the Common Application, college essays, admissions and, most likely for the first time in your life, you’ll directly face finances. The good thing – you’ll experience this with your friends and get support from the generations who faced the same obstacles years before. Some other positives are that many of you will have several open class blocks that you can use to explore other classes and interests or give yourself some free time. You can also look forward to events exclusive to seniors like beach week and senior sunrise.

Some other positive aspects are that many of you will have several open class blocks that you can use to explore other classes and interests or give yourself some free time. You can also look forward to events exclusive to seniors like beach week and senior sunrise.

Now, getting to the tips that will help reduce the stress and elevate your last year of high school!

1. Take the time this year to research colleges, take tours and make a preliminary plan. A lot of the stress surrounding college applications can be reduced by doing research during junior year when you have the luxury of time; your deadline won’t be until the next school year. Sit down with an open mind and map things out. You don’t need to decide on a major just yet, but either have ideas on future careers or consciously decide that you’re going to take the time to explore your interests. Reaffirm that you don’t need to make a final decision for a while. Hopefully, this will lessen the anxiety that comes with a family member inevitably asking, “So, what do you want to go to college for?” Make a list of your “must haves,” and look for colleges that interest you. Consider location, tuition, and stats (yours and the colleges).

Once you’ve mapped out the basics, talk with your family, counselors and mentors.

Former Patriot High School student and now a part of Harvard’s Class of 2024, Zoree Jones was able to share some advice on senior year of high school and the transition to college.

Regrading mentors, Jones advised to keep in mind that, “sometimes mentorship just looks like having adults or a teacher in your life that you can come to with different questions, for advice… just because someone hasn’t explicitly said to you ‘I’m your mentor,’ doesn’t mean they aren’t.”

Whoever it is, discuss your concerns and preferences with them and then be open to their recommendations and advice. Remember they’ve gone through this before! Here, you can start making a flexible plan and begin tiering your college choices into dream, target, and safety schools. As the year goes on, move your options around based on how you’re doing academically and how your interests change.

Start college tours as early as possible. Make an effort to tour your target schools (at least) with a college provided tour guide and ask questions! If you have time, take a walk around the campus on your own and look at the town outside the campus.

2. Organize! Organize! Organize!

A lot of people are struggling with organization, but this is one thing that you will want to put extra effort into keeping cohesive and comprehensible.

“Organization is huge,” Jones said. “Whether it’s having a spreadsheet of the different schools you’re applying to, the requirements that those schools have, supplemental essays, deadlines… or some other format…to kind of keep it all together and keep it all manageable is really helpful.”

Here’s another method you can try:

• Buy a binder and designate it to everything college. You can also buy tabs to separate out information, your preferences, places you think you’ll apply etc.

• By now, you may be receiving at least 5-10 letters a month from random colleges all over the country. Look through them but throw away the ones that you’re sure don’t/won’t spark any interest, they’ll only get in the way of your organization. Keep the ones you need and want in the binder.

• Print out a calendar, put it in the binder, and keep track of deadlines. You’ll want this for registration deadlines for college tours, SATS, etc. Keep this habit up during senior year, your calendar should keep track of application deadlines.

You are responsible for keeping track of deadlines and keeping information together. You must stay organized!

3. Utilize your summer – if you can’t find the time during summer, it’s likely you won’t find the time when the school year begins. Senior year is fun and holds a reputation for being easier – especially after March, however it is still hectic. A lot of things go on at once and there’s a lot of deadlines to meet. Using your summer will relieve a lot of this stress.

Even if it’s not due until fall or winter, use the summer to write your essays and complete other components of your target schools’ applications. Jones suggests that you take your time, even stepping back when needed. Doing applications early on gives you the time to do so.

When approaching your essays, Jones recommended, “thinking from the perspective of ‘Who am I’ and what is the narrative do I want to tell.” She included, “I would advise to think from the perspective of what can I offer this school.”

Doing this long process before the school year will also allow you to get advice from your teachers and give you time to make edits later in the year. Remember, the more competitive the school is, the more important the admissions essays become.

4. Be mindful of your stress level and learn how to manage it. This may be one of the first times you experience long term stress. Meeting graduation requirements, finding, applying to, and getting into college, paying senior dues and making sure you’ll set for that day in June when you get to walk off a stage, diploma in hand – it’s stressful. But you’ll deal with stressful days, weeks and even months for the rest of your life so it’s important you can learn ways to manage it.

Some common techniques you can try…

• Journaling

• Exercise, including yoga

• Get 8-10 hours of sleep and be consistent with it

• A day of the week dedicated to self-care

• Spending time with family and friends

In the first semester, you’ll be balancing college applications and regular testing. Even with a reduced schedule, which many seniors have, it’s hard. Those techniques above will help you maintain health and presence, but what about studying?

Jones said the most important thing was to, “be patient with yourself… take things day by day. Some days things will be easier to focus than others.”

A tip she gave was to find the times of day that work best for you to study and work. While in high school it’s a bit hard because we’re restricted to the afternoon and evening, finding out what truly works for you now will help you as you go on.

She also shared the thing that helped her a ton with a heavy course load: trying your best to start assignments early. “One of the biggest hacks that I’ve discovered is that when I have a paper due or a research project that I have to work on, I’ll start early so that I can get feedback from my professor on the direction I’m taking.”

Tying it all together, Jones said, “When you’re taking care of yourself from a well-being perspective you oftentimes are also going to be optimizing and improving your academic performance, extracurricular performance and everything else.”

5. Spend time with your friends, be present, and enjoy it!

Make time for your friends outside of school activities. Even with strong friendships, you may not see them for a long while once everyone is off to college.

Jones agreed that you’re with your friends almost every day in high school, but it’s not like that in college. So, enjoy this time, and take lots of pictures for the memories.

Those are five tips for you to use as a rising senior. Use them to make the last year the best!

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Charge
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Patriot High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Charge
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Charge Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *