What I Learned on the Road to Senior Year


Sep   2015



All summer long, senior year was looming threateningly overhead. In late June, it was easy to shoo away. In July, I told myself I hadn’t yet been relinquished from my position as a junior, because my transcripts wouldn’t read “Grade 12” until much later. However, it’s September, and there’s no denying it now.

Just like that, senior year is in full swing. Oof. Let’s reminisce for a second: Didn’t you always want to be a senior? Didn’t you always say you couldn’t wait to get out of high school? Didn’t you say college would be wonderful?

Well, it doesn’t feel that way:

So little time, so much to do.

The truth of the matter

Being a senior is scary. There are so many what ifs that it’s difficult to focus on the present. As I rose through the rankings of high school, I told myself I had done all right and that I would improve the following year. However, there comes a time each year when one becomes a little too comfortable. One falls into a groove—and a little off track.

Let this be a lesson to all you “youngsters” out there: I regret not seizing all the opportunities I had, from volunteering more to taking time to relax. As I’ve progressed through high school, I’ve found myself pining for the year prior and asking myself, Why didn’t I do better? I know I’m pushing myself really hard and I should be proud of my accomplishments, because I’ve done fairly well throughout my high school career thus far. But it’s that desire to do more, to be better, in school and in my community that drives me.

Gaining your footing

Now, if you are entering high school, please take notice of my words: determine your goals early on and take advantage of the resources around you. Do not let others keep you from reaching your full potential. Stay alert. Stay focused. Stay hungry. You’ve got to want it just as much, maybe more, every step of the way.

Whether you’re a freshman this fall or not, you can usually make up for lost time. If you didn’t do as well as you had wanted, do the work, set goals for yourself, and act on them.

What I wish I had known before senior year

  • Most selective (reach) schools require (or at least like to see) SAT Subject Tests. Take those sophomore or junior year if you can, right after you’ve finished the related class, because you’ll be loaded with work as a senior.
  • If you’re considering any type of “skilled” occupation, e.g. writer or artist, start working on your portfolio ASAP!
  • Read in your free time. Work on your vocabulary too. You’ll need it for the SAT, but it’ll also impress your teachers.
  • Get involved in the community. Try to do something each year (in and out of school). Perhaps you could add on an activity each year that you’re in high school. If you have family obligations that prevent you from getting involved, you won’t be penalized when you apply to college, but you should be showing initiative. There are plenty of activities online that will help the community as well as out of school (on weekends).
  • Start studying for the SAT or ACT now! The upper-level math you will learn later on, so don’t fret if you don’t fully comprehend it, but familiarize yourself with the exams. You will gradually improve, I promise.
  • Research the different diplomas offered in your state, if any. Choose the one you’d like to work towards. Speak to your guidance counselor, and start working on it!
  • Get to know yourself. High school is a time to find yourself. Some days I spent lost in my own thoughts, and those were some of my favorites. Bask in the moments you have. And if you lose your way, just shake it off, and when you come back, be more focused than ever.

If you work hard now, you’ll be able to play later. There is nothing better than being able to enjoy yourself among friends or family and not have the fear that your schoolwork hanging over your head. Be driven, humble, and kind. Lastly, and most importantly, believe in yourself. Be the you you hope to be on that graduation stage senior year, with a diploma in hand. You can do this! I believe in you too!

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About Mariela Pichardo

Mariela Pichardo is a 17-year-old high school senior from Yonkers, New York, but is currently based in Middletown, New York. She has an affinity for old films, female impersonation, and classic literature. She intends to study English and Spanish in the fall of 2016 in the Big Apple.