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Advice From A Senior: Senior Year

Samantha Zakrzewski, Writer/Editor

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Senior year- you wait three years for this momentous year. Prom, Homecoming, and the football games are just a few of the perks that come along with being a senior.

Yet, with all of this excitement comes a lot of responsibility. As someone who has walked these hallways for the past four years, I have lots of insight regarding senior year. Here are some tips for, not only the incoming seniors, but all high school students as well:

  1. Don’t wait to write your college essay!
    • Many students, myself included, are guilty of procrastination. While this may work for some assignments, it won’t do you any good for your college essay. My biggest regret coming into senior year was not having my college essay written. Regardless of the classes that you take, you’re going to find yourself bombarded with lots of homework and other priorities. Although summer time is meant for relaxation, limited stress, and lounging by the pool, definitely designate a few days towards working on your essay. Having completed your college essay will make senior year far easier.
  2. Apply for colleges ASAP!
    • A misconception that I had entering senior year was that I had until around January to fill out my college applications. While some colleges have late deadlines, I quickly realized that many come a lot sooner than I thought. I applied to my first college in September, which was possible only because that school didn’t require an essay (like I said before, I didn’t write my essay over the summer). However, many schools do require a college essay, which is the reason you should start writing it ASAP. Even if a college has a later deadline, I would still recommend applying early. The sooner you apply to a college, the sooner you should receive a response (depending on the school). Choosing a college based off of the ones you were accepted into is extremely stressful, so the goal is to give yourself as much time as possible to make that critical decision.
  3. Regular Decision VS Early Decision VS Early Action
    • When applying for college, you’ll be asked what type of application you want to submit. Early Decision is binding, which means that if you apply and are accepted, you must attend the school. Regular Decision means that if you apply and are accepted, you do not have to attend the school. Early Action is similar to Early Decision, except that if you’re accepted it’s non-binding. Being extremely indecisive, I did not apply using Early Decision as I was unsure of the college that I wanted to attend.
  4. Taking SATS
    • Start studying for your SATs ASAP! A good tip of advice would be to connect your CollegeBoard account to Khan Academy and study through there. Khan Academy is a free study program that gives users practice questions based off of the questions they got wrong on their PSAT and SAT tests. Despite buying the SAT practice book, I only touched it once- I mainly used the Khan Academy resources. Also, try to take the test junior year- if you study hard enough for it, you should be fine. Try to designate a certain amount of time every night towards studying for your SATs. Even if you study for a half hour every night, it will make all the difference. Also, try to take practice tests as they give you an idea of how the actual test will go. I took the SATs twice junior year and once senior year. To my surprise, my best scores came from the test that I took junior year. As I’ve mentioned, senior year is as hectic as it is- make your life easier and take the SATS junior year.
  5. Join clubs and volunteer
    • We’ve been told since freshman year to get involved with the school, but many of us fail to take this advice seriously. Another regret that I have is not participating more during my first two years of high school. Don’t do what many students do and wait until senior year to start participating. Colleges want their applicants to have been volunteering since freshman year. Joining clubs and volunteering demonstrate a student’s ability to manage their time, which is a vital skill in college. If you’re interested in joining the National Honor Society (for juniors and seniors), than you’re going to need to join clubs and volunteer.
  6. Work on college applications over the summer
    • Although you probably won’t be able to submit applications over the summer (you need teacher recommendations),  you should still start them. Filling out applications is a time consuming process. There are many different questions that they ask and it takes a lot of time trying to answer them. Thankfully, many colleges allow you to apply through the Common App (see below), which I highly recommend.
  7. Common App
    • Filling out college applications is a time consuming process. However, many schools have made the process easier by adding their schools on the Common App. When filling out the Common App, you only have to fill it out once and it will be sent to every school that you are applying to. The only thing you would have to do is answer questions from specific schools. If your college of interest is on there, definitely apply through there as it will save you so much time. However, keep in mind that you will still have to pay the application fee for the colleges that you apply to.
  8. Ask for Recommendation Letters Early
    • Many colleges require one or two letters of recommendation from your teachers. So if you’re planning on asking a teacher, make sure to do it as early as possible. As you would imagine, teachers are extremely busy- they can’t just write a letter of recommendation in five minutes. Make sure to give the teachers that you ask time to write them. For example, if you need your letter by November 15, make sure to ask your teacher sometime in October (preferably in the beginning to middle of the month). Also, when asking for a letter, make sure you GO to your teacher. If you email a teacher, they either may not see it or may not take you seriously, since you didn’t ask them in person. After you ask for a letter, make sure to go on Naviance and request the letter on there (that’s where teachers send the letters). A good tip of advice would be to ask more than the needed amount of teachers to write letters. For example, if you need two letters of recommendation, I would probably ask three teachers, just to be safe. However, don’t over stress this portion of the application!
  9. Enjoy your Senior Year!
    • Okay, so this last piece of advice kind of contradicts the rest of the article, but it’s still important. Senior year flies by, so you need to take the time to enjoy it. Don’t over exhaust yourself- find that balance by taking both challenging and laidback classes. Despite feeling trapped in our parents homes with no freedom, a lot of us have it easy- our parents cook for us, do our laundry and pay the bills. We’ll definitely miss that comfort when we’re sitting in our dorm rooms eating Ramen for dinner. So enjoy senior year and make the most of it!
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