An Open Letter To The Class Of 2017

An Open Letter To The Class Of 2017

It won't be like "High School Musical 3," but it can be close!
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Dear High School Class of 2017,

You made it! It is finally your senior year, and you will be graduating in a short ten months. Ten months may seem like a really long time now, but in all honesty, this year will go by faster than you can ever imagine. Right now you are preparing for your senior year, buying the perfect first day of school outfits, and finishing up some last minute AP summer work. You are ready. You have waited patiently these past three years for this day to come. You cannot wait until you are walking across that stage to receive your diploma. As you start this year, you can not wait for it to end because you will be done with college applications and your decision will be made. You cannot wait to get out of your high school and you just want it to be June already. I know I felt that way and you will come to a realization that this is really it and you begin noticing all of your lasts. You will become beyond excited for graduation and you will be stressed out by college applications; however, in the end, it will all work itself out. Do not wish the year to hurry up or be over because once it is over there is no going back.

Graduation is the result of the culmination of four years of not only hard work, but also some of the best memories you will never forget. That being said, make the most of your last year at your high school. Reach out to people in your grade who you may have not met previously. You will not want to be sitting at graduation, realizing you do not recognize a lot of the names being called. Go to every football game or every school performance. Even if you are not a sports or art fan, you should go and support your friends involved! Step out of your comfort zone and try a new club. Do not do this for the sole purpose of putting it on your college application. Spend time with friends and make the most of every moment. Participate in senior spirit week, even if you feel like you are dressed like a fool. During spirit week, it is perfectly acceptable to walk down the hallway looking like a tacky tourist or sporting your favorite pajamas! Go on your senior trip, whether it is a dinner cruise or a legitimate trip. Senior skip day is a must and if your grade is planning a prank, be careful! My grade played senior assassin with water guns and it was a fun way to end the year. Go to prom even if you think it will be a waste of time because you will never get another prom. Take advantage of every chance to be with your classmates and have an amazing time.

I’m going to tell you something that your parents probably already have: start your Common Application early. You can thank me later. The Common App may seem easy because you can just fill it out and send it to an innumerable amount of colleges and universities. Do not wait until the week before the application deadline to do this because each school may have their own writing supplements and you will not want to be up for nights writing numerous essays. Also, some schools are not on the Common App, and you will have additional applications.

Have someone edit your college essays after you write them. I had one of my friends from my AP English class read all of my essays multiple times and it was beyond helpful. The sooner you get your applications done, the sooner it is all over with. You will have this feeling of never wanting to look at it again. I will be honest with you: the waiting is the worst part. If you apply early action or early decision, you will be waiting about a month or two before you hear back.

I know preparing for college seems like it will take up your entire senior year, but I promise you it will not. If you apply early action and meet the November 1st deadline, you will be done with your applications by then and you can sit back and wait for your decisions. The best part is that you do not have to choose your college until May 1st. I promise that it will not be as bad as it seems, as long as you do not cram at the last minute.

Going into senior year, I told myself that I would not let senioritis get the best of me. I wish I stayed true to that promise. I completed all my work and I maintained my averages; however, my entire attitude changed. Every assignment included complaining. I am going to tell you that senioritis is inevitable. You can maintain your work and grades; however, there will be a shift come second semester. One of my classes included walking in to find my teacher standing on a desk with a sign saying “No More Senioritis.”

You will make it through second semester, and you just need to remind yourself that now is not the time to quit. You have put in four years of hard work and if you stop now, it would be like quitting the Boston Marathon after running 25 miles. Why would you quit just as you are reaching the 26th-mile finish line? There is going to be a point where you are just done with schoolwork, but you have to push through it. It may seem impossible to find the drive to complete your assignments, but you should finish your run at your high school strong, because when you cross that finish line at graduation, you should have no regrets.

Once you graduate, chances are you will be moving away from home and will not see your friends and family every day. The past 18 years of your life have revolved around these people. In two short months after graduation, they will no longer be right down the hallway or street. Take advantage of each moment you can spend with your friends and family. During the summer, you will feel more inclined to go out with your friends and that is awesome, but do not spend all of your time with them. Spend time with your family because they will miss you a lot next year. Your parents have been there for you since day one, and they are the reason you are the person you have become. Express your gratitude to them and do not forget to say thank you, even for the little things. Hug your parents every day, because when you are away at college you will wish you were able to. Do not take your parents for granted, because next year they will not be right down the hall ready to help you whenever you need it.

Flash forward to a year from today. I want you to picture yourself inside your local department store shopping for your dorm. Your senior year is over just like that. You are leaving home in two weeks and you will probably never see many of your classmates until your high school class reunion. A year from today, everything you have known for the past four years will be over. You will probably know your roommate at this point, but that is one of the only people you know going into college. You will not have the luxury of knowing everyone, staff included. You will be scared, anxious, sad, but above that, excited. You are leaving your best friends, your home, and your family. Chances are you will not be coming home until Columbus Day weekend if you are attending a school nearby or Thanksgiving if you are farther away. You are going to hear this a million times, but make the most of your senior year. High school is what you make of it and senior year is the time to go out on a high note.

Good luck and have fun,

The Class of 2016
Cover Image Credit: Sarah Simmons

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

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2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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10 Pieces Of Advice From My Parents That Have Helped Me Survive This Thing Called Life

I don't like admitting that they're right, but they've helped me through more than they'll ever know.

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As I've entered my 20s and have made it halfway through college, I've learned that life can be hard and challenging at times. Like many kids, when I was growing up, I could care less about what my parent's advice or opinions were. Nine times out of ten, I would do the complete opposite of what they said. Once I got older and actually started listening to their advice and put it into perceptive, I learned that they're right more often than I'd like to admit.

1. Don't take things for granted

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I've learned to cherish what I have because I might not always have it. It's easy to take life itself and many things it involves for granted. They've taught me to take a step back from this crazy life sometimes and be grateful for all that I have.

2. Don't be afraid to put your heart on your sleeve

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My parents have taught me that if you feel something, don't be afraid to say it or embrace it. If you love someone, then tell them. Don't be afraid to put your heart out there just because you might get hurt.

3. Be vulnerable

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In life, in relationships, in your work. Take risks, get shot down, and then try again. Being vulnerable is scary yet so powerful.

4. You can never have too many shoes

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Otherwise known as it's okay to treat yourself. Life is hard, so take care of you. If that means going on a shopping spree every once in a while, then so be it.

5. You're going to be okay

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Whatever it is you're going through, you're going through it and you're going to come out on the other side. It may seem horrible now, but you'll learn from it and be okay in the end.

6. You have to have friends in life

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It's important to have people to lean on, especially on your bad days, and to celebrate with on your good ones. You can't just have you or a significant other to rely on.

7. Never be afraid to share your opinion

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Don't be afraid to put your thoughts and opinions out there because they might be wrong. They could have a huge impact on someone or something.

8. Don't stress over things you have no control over

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Everyone is on their own path, which means everything will work out the way it's supposed to, even if it doesn't make sense right now. Again, you're going to be okay.

9. Happy, healthy, wealthy, wise

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My dad always says if you tell yourself every day that you're happy with yourself or your life, you're healthy and strong, you're wealthy in love and surrounded by great people, and you're knowledgable or wise, then you can achieve anything in life.

10.  S*** or get off the pot

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My all-time favorite piece of advice. Making decisions can be hard and scary, especially if the outcome could be getting hurt in the end. So, you either make a decision and roll with it no matter the outcome or you walk away.

Thanks, mom and dad for always being a phone call away when I need it! Just know that your advice and words of wisdom don't go unnoticed. For others, your parents have been on this planet much longer than you have and most likely experienced the same situations that you're dealing with. They don't have all the answers, but they are there to help.

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