For the high school class of 2018, the beginning of your final year is coming very quickly and for some, maybe it has already started. For many of you, senior year means that you will be applying to colleges. The college application process can be a grueling experience and takes over the lives of the majority of seniors for at least half the school year. Here are the thoughts most of you will probably have throughout the school year as you work on college applications and try to survive your final year of high school.
1. August: “I still have plenty of time to start college apps. Maybe next week…”
This is not what you’ll be thinking at 10 p.m. the night that your first applications are due. Do not procrastinate with getting your apps done. It may seem like August, September or even the beginning of October is too early to start, but when it's October 31 and you're still working on those essays, it won't be long before the panic kicks in and you start regretting going to that one football game instead of staying in and doing applications. Start early, just sayin’.
2. September: “Who the hell do I ask for letters of recommendation?”
Anyone! You don’t have to be BFFs with a teacher to ask them for a letter of recommendation. All (or most) teachers are more than willing to write a letter for whoever asks. Just ask early and give them plenty of time to write. And in the end, remember to thank them.
3. October: “FAFSA? What is FAFSA? Is this optional?”
FAFSA: Federal Application for Federal Student Aid, aka the thing that’s going to determine what kind of financial aid you get from colleges. Optional? Well, unless you’re going to pay for college out-of-pocket, get your FAFSA application done as soon as possible. FAFSA will require work on both your end and on your parents' and will take some time to complete. If you are the oldest child or the first to be going to college in the U.S. (both of which I am) and your parents have no idea what FAFSA is or what to do with it, ask for help! Counselors at high schools are usually happy to help with any questions you may have about the process, so go find them and ask them to walk you through it. Some high schools also hold sessions for parents about FAFSA and how to fill it out, so keep an eye out for any announcements about that. And for your reference, FAFSA opens on October 1.
4. November: “I’m pretty much done with my applications, I just have to write the essay but that will be easy. I still have a lot of time to work on it.”
You may think this will be a breeze, but the essay part of the application process is probably the one that takes the most time and is the hardest to complete. Many schools will also ask you for supplemental essays, so don’t procrastinate, and get them done as soon as you can. The Common App releases essay prompts during the summer for those who want to get a head start. Once you do start your essays, go to teachers for editing help. Many high schools have tutoring centers, in which both teachers and students can be a second eye for your work. This editing will also help cut your essays because if you're anything like me, the 500 word limit for the essays will be tough to come by.
5. December: “I’ve never been more stressed in my life.”
Juggling college applications, essays, transcripts and recommendations while also continuing to do school work can be tough, and chances are, you are not the only one feeling this way. All the work may become overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help from a teacher, counselor, family member or friend. The good news is the stress you're feeling is temporary, and the second semester of school will probably be a lot less work.
6. January: “Screw studying for tests! I’m done with college applications, they won’t see my grades from this year anyway.”
Well... not exactly. You may think that you don't need to study anymore and that maybe skipping a day of classes won't affect you, but it will. Though you're done with college applications (maybe you've even been accepted to some schools already), your schoolwork and grades still matter. See thought #7 and you'll know why.
7. February: “They want my final transcript??”
Yes, yes they do. Your final, end of the year transcript will be sent to the college that you commit to, so don't drop the ball on your studies during the second semester. Sure, the college you commit to likely won't reject you if your grades drop, but they may ask for an explanation as to why, and telling admissions that you were feeling lazy won't cut it. Overcome the senioritis and continue to work hard, because having to write an explanation letter to your college is likely the last thing you want to do during the summer.
8. March: “Why does this process take so long? I just want to know if I got in!”
Of course, this depends on the deadline you applied for, but be prepared for many months of not knowing whether or not you got into your dream school (especially if you are applying as regular decision). Some schools will send their decisions as late as the beginning of April, so don't be too concerned if your friends have already gotten acceptance letters (or even committed) and you haven't heard back yet.
9. April: “Prom.”
This has nothing to do with college, but college is the last thing on the mind during prom season. For some, this may mean the excitement of dress shopping, renting a limo or finally asking the girl you’ve liked since freshman year to go to the dance with you. For others, this may be dreading having to dress up and go to another school dance. No matter what end of the spectrum you’re on, prom is on the mind in one way or another.
10. May: “Thank god this year is finally over.”
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Senior year can be tougher than you think. Good luck, class of 2018. This year is going to be filled with a lot of hard work and long nights, but it will also be filled with memories with friends that you will keep with you forever.
So you see, senior year may not be all it's cracked up to be. And though senior year can get very difficult at times and you may feel like this is the worst year of high school yet, don't worry, because you'll make it. It's not all horrible and it's not all college applications. This is your last year to spend with the friends you've made before you enter the next step of your lives. I survived senior year and if I can do it, anyone can. Have an amazing senior year, class of 2018.
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