Originally Posted: Sep 22, 2017
Last Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Senior year: it’s what we’ve been dreaming of for years. But it can be way too easy to get off track—lost in the hustle and bustle of planning graduation parties, signing up for senior pictures, studying for upcoming tests, going on campus visits, sending in your college applications…the list goes on. Here are a few important things to remember in order for you to finish this year as strongly as the others, even if it may be the last.
1. Do remember to take the SAT and ACT
By now, this may be your second or third time taking one of these admission tests. For others, it may be the first time! If it is your very first time, get to know both tests in terms of time limits, expectations, and the various sections. If it isn’t your first time, it doesn’t hurt to keep practicing and reviewing old questions you answered incorrectly. Think about your last testing experience and reflect on what you could improve upon. Each point is worth much more than you think! The biggest thing previous seniors share with underclassmen is how they wished they would have studied more and taken those two tests more seriously. It would have saved them money! If you haven’t already but need to, sign up as soon as possible to avoid paying late registration fees.
2. Do keep your grades up
Senioritis is as real as the common cold that hits hard during the first few months of school. Senior year can be a fun time—it’s your last year of high school! It’s the last time you may see the people you’ve seen almost every day for the past four years. It’s the last of many things, and it’s only reasonable that you want to relish them all. However, in all the excitement, your grades can silently drop below what is acceptable. To avoid that from happening, it helps to have an agenda, planner, or some method to help keep track of assignments and upcoming tests. Senior year is just as important as the past three years: many colleges want to see you demonstrate how great of a student you are not just through your admission essays and recommendations but through your grades and conduct throughout high school, including senior year.
3. Do create a college résumé
A job résumé contains all the places you’ve worked and for how long. It also gives employers a general idea of your experience and all the things you’ve done and achieved. In the same way, a high school résumé is beneficial for you when it comes to applying to colleges. Instead of rummaging through your room to find all the awards you’ve won, trying to remember all the places you’ve volunteered, all the jobs you’ve worked, and more for each application you want to fill, why not have all that information in one safe place? Having some record of your volunteer, job, club, and other extracurricular experience makes it easy to transfer that information onto your applications. It also comes in handy when you’re asking for recommendations. Teachers sometimes only know what you do in school but not all the things you do outside of class, so it’s helpful to provide them with your high school résumé before they start writing. It gives them a better understanding of who you are as a student and person, which equals a stronger recommendation.
4. Do start early on college applications
Applications, especially college applications, are not as simple as you may think. With all the parts and requirements you have to fulfill, it’s only natural that you would have questions. The worst thing you can do is wait until the last minute to start filling college applications then realize there is so much you don’t understand. Working under a time crunch is always stressful and results in work that is not always your best. Trust me: you want colleges to see your best, and you want them to see what you can do! This can only be done when you take your time to understand the application process and ask the right people the right questions. Those in charge of admission are always more than willing to speak to potential students and answer any questions they may have to make the process smoother. Also, by getting a head start on applications, you can start asking teachers, coaches, counselors, etc. for those aforementioned letters of recommendation. At times we may forget it, but they have lives just like we do. Waiting the day before the application is due to ask for a letter of recommendation is not a good idea! Asking the person you want to write your letter well in advance shows a sense of responsibility and initiative, and the chances of you getting a quality letter increases even more.
These simple do’s may seem too easy to do: Who forgets to take the ACT? Who could possibly forget to keep their grades up? But you would be surprised! A little extra organization and a reminder here and there never hurt anyone. Senior year is stressful, and sometimes you'll welcome the advice and support. By keeping these tips fresh in your mind as you journey through your senior year, you’re sure to do your best and be your best.
Need more advice to get through your last year of high school? Check out the “senior year” tag for more helpful content.