Despite the ongoing stress of college applications, maintaining a social life, and retaining a sturdy GPA, senior year was easily one of the greatest years of my life. Now, having experienced high school from the first day of school to receiving my diploma at graduation, I can only hope to offer meaningful advice that I hope will help the "new kids" who are now entitled to my parking spot.
1. Be mindful of every single day.
I know I sound like a grandma on a rocking chair when I say, "Appreciate every day", but trust me, you will naturally sink into a routine once September is over. Then, multiple days will jumble into one instead of being remembered individually. And whether you've already graduated or are eighty years old, you'll thank yourself for making an effort to remember your high school days.
For this, I recommend using a notebook to write in any format five things that happened during your day--sad, glad, comical, even stressful moments of that day. It'll take five minutes before going to sleep, and you will appreciate it once you're an alumni.
2. Do not look for what you don't have.
For this, I am specifically referring to relationships. If you do not already have a steady significant other, do not desperately seek one out because you simply want to "be with someone". Trust me, this one is hard to stick with, especially when your "GNOs" turn into a boyfriend scientific analysis with which you have nothing to contribute to. Good people will come into your life when you least expect it.
Not being in a relationship will allow yourself to truly assemble your priorities, especially when deciding a college or university, Also, you do not have to stress over the infamous "Are we staying together or splitting before college?" debacle.
3. Be nice to everyone, especially underclassmen.
I really should not have to explain why you should act like a decent human being to another human being. It's 2017, treat people with respect. That freshman walking like a slug in the halls could possibly be your boss one day.
4. Say "yes".
Senior year quite possibly contains the most awesome school trips ever. For my high school, all five-hundred of us traveled to Walt Disney World. For others, there are ski trips and of course, prom.
While these are amazing trips, senior year also has great leadership opportunities and service projects you should get involved in. If you're ever asked to attend a service project or be a leader of a club or activity you love, say yes. It is not only a great thing to mention on your college applications but also a rewarding experience that enables you to meet such amazing people and become close with some teachers too.
5. Power through the "College" talk.
Nothing's worse than religion or politics at the dinner table? Try asking a high school senior that question on Thanksgiving, and they'll quickly assure you otherwise. We all know extended family dinners can be awkward, especially when you're persistently asked what your college aspirations and future plans are. So, before you sit at that dinner table, remember that it's okay to say "I don't know" because you truly do not know. And please note, most people don't know either.
After that, continue to smile and change the conversation as subtle as possible. Do not in any way lose your temp er or get frustrated, it'll make the rest of the evening five hundred times worse. So power through, and save your breakdown for the car ride home if necessary.
6. Go to a "Senior Night".
Even if you aren't on a sports team, attend a "Senior Night" or any "last home game" for any sports team, or try to attend your last high school homecoming. Confidently saying you want to go will influence some of your friends who were iffy from the start, and eventually a group will surround you, making the experience more enjoyable.
So, deck out in your school colors, make signs, paint your face, and most importantly show your support.
7. Never be afraid to say "Hi".
By senior year, people change. The friends you declared your "ride or die" squad during freshman year have most likely gone their separate ways with different groups. And while that's normal, you should never feel embarrassed or awkward about the friendship you once had. So, whenever you pass them by in the hallway, a simple "hi" can go a long way. It shows how high school has enabled you to mature and will definitely ease any awkward tension between old friends.
8. Do not get "I hate you, high school" syndrome.
Please do not be that person who continuously rants on their finsta about how they "can't wait to be done with this school and everyone in it", especially in October. High school isn't over yet, and most people won't converse with you if you claim to hate everyone. No one likes a Scrooge.
9. Find your "go-to" teacher.
Honestly, senior year is a rollercoaster of emotions. From college applications, acceptance/rejections, and your final college decision to inevitable drama and the "last time" for anything, there will be tears. You might be the next Niagara Falls, but everyone understands you on some level.
First, find a teacher you can trust. Someone you admire, whether you've experienced them in a classroom environment, as a coach, a guidance counselor, or even an adult who supervises a club or organizes events. This teacher will be your "go-to", and their office will become your new therapy center where tissue boxes and arms are always open.
The biggest advantage to this is that by the time you receive your diploma, you are no longer a student. So, your "go-to" teacher transforms into your friend, and this friendship will always welcome you with open arms whenever you come home.
10. Break stereotypes; make new friends.
By senior year, most people have abandoned the general stereotypes surrounding high school and its students. So, start a conversation with that football player in your art class. Or talk to the track kids who sit at the adjacent lunch table. Be comfortable to ask the cheerleader what your assignments are.
There are two consequences to this approach:
One, you will have a relationship based solely off of "What was the homework?" conversations which will turn into discussions based on tests, papers, and of course, what you think about your teacher.
Two, you've made a friend, a friend you've grown somewhat close to in such a short time span that it'll leave you amazed whenever you think of it. When you think about this type of friendship, you'll simply wish you knew them four years ago and simply had more time to spend together.
Class of 2018, I truly wish you the most exhilarating senior year with amazing opportunities, friends, and family surrounding you. Take care of my parking spot.
A High School Alumna (Class of 2017)