Dear High School Senior,

Congratulations! Ya did it, kiddo. You made it through your junior year, and you're starting the best year of your time in high school. You made it through Freshmen PE and biology. In those first few months you learned how to navigate the halls at your high school, found a friend group that probably lasted through the next four years, and you even located the best water fountain on campus. Your sophomore year you started to really come out of your shell in your 3rd period English class. You probably experienced a few bad grades for the first time, and you're actually thinking about colleges. At the beginning of Junior year, you were full of energy, and you were ready to hit the ground running. That year was filled with SATs, ACTs, college tours, long papers, and your most difficult classes yet. Until that year, your friendships hadn't withstood a whole lot of difficulty, but by the end of junior year, your friend group has been solidified through lots of late nights and early mornings together. Now you stand on the brink of your senior year. You'll be the big guy on campus with all the underclassmen looking up to you. It probably seems like you'll never be done with high school. Trust me, blink and it's over. Here is the best advice I can give you on this subject.

1. Finish your college applications early.

There is nothing worse than having an application due at the same time as that essay you've been procrastinating for weeks. Yes, senioritis is DEFINELTY a real thing, but procrastinating your applications just makes everything worse.

2. Don't get too overwhelmed.

Senior year can be stressful. The best way to combat stress is planning and scheduling in advance and leaving time for you to relax and have fun. Don't stretch yourself too thin. Prioritize your time, and you'll find what's really important.

3. Try new things.

Your time with these people in this town is going to end. Go try that new restaurant. Go to your high school football game. Drive down to a nearby city with some friends and explore. Those moments are what you'll remember next year when you're sitting alone in your dorm room.

4. Do not stress out if your application letter is a few days late.

Colleges receive thousands and thousands of applications within just a few months. Trust me, they'll get back to you as fast as they can. Just be patient.

5. If you don't get into your dream school, it's ok.

Everything happens for a reason, and if you don't get into your dream school, you weren't meant to be there. I believe God has the best plan for you, and sometimes it's different than our own plans. Eat some ice cream and binge watch Netflix for one night. Then, move on. Your future isn't dependent on acceptance to a certain school, and your worth certainly is not. It sucks, but keep your head up, kiddo.

6. Hang out with your family.

Yes, they can be a bit obnoxious. Yes, they embarrass you. Yes, they make you play board games with them when you would rather be sleeping, but you will miss them next year. You'll wish you were back at home eating dinner and laughing about things that happened during your days. You'll wish you could hug them before bed. They're going to miss you too, so spend as much time with them as you can.

7. Eat home cooked meals.

Dining hall food gets old within the first week, so try to eat all of your favorite meals while you still can.

8. Don't shy away from friendships or relationships because you're about to leave.

You're about to live pretty far away from all your high school friends, but it's ok to make new ones during your senior year. If these people matter to you, you'll maintain contact even if you live far away. I made several new friends my senior year, and I don't regret one second spent with them. I wish we'd had more time together, but I wouldn't exchange those new friends for anything.

9. Live in the moment.

Get off your phone. Make plans with your friends while you still can. Go make memories. Go to your little brothers' band concert or wrestling match. Go to the school dances. Go do everything you can with the people you love. When next August rolls around, you'll be grateful you did.

10. Enjoy Senior Year.

It really is called the best year of high school for a reason. I wish I could go and do it all again, so cherish it while you're there. You're standing on the brink of a brand new chapter, but don't forget to appreciate where you are right now. Take chances, and live to the fullest. You don't want to wonder what could have been. Some days will be hard, but you'll make it through. Now, GO HAVE FUN!

Best of luck,

A College Freshman