Only a year ago, I was in the exact same position you're currently in. I was a high school senior yearning to leave my hometown and gain the freedom that college would provide me.
November and December were strange months because everyone in my grade was at a different point in their application process and stressed that they needed to receive outstanding grades the first semester in order to impress their top college. Many students decided to tackle extra AP classes in order to look more appealing to colleges but would fall behind in those classes because of the time they dedicated to their applications. Some people had already applied early decision or early action, some waited to perfect their application and apply regular decision, and some people still hadn't even considered where they wanted to attend college.
The important thing to remember is that no matter what stage you are at in the application process, it's okay. It's called a process because it takes time. Deciding where you want to spend four grueling years should not be a choice made too quickly, especially since it could come with a huge financial burden. Although you shouldn't rush the procedure, make sure not to fall behind.
Have your common application done early to have an appropriate time for editing, look into which schools have additional application requirements, and don't stop improving your essay until you're completely satisfied. Waiting until the night before you plan to submit the applications is foolish because the quality will not be near as strong as it could be.
Yes, it's important to have a suitable amount of higher level classes and good grades, but that's not the top priority of senior year. If sacrificing taking an AP class or two means you'll have the time to attend your last homecoming or pep rally, it's completely worth it. Senior year could have a large negative effect on one's mental health, so it's equally as important to dedicate time for socializing as it is to do your school work. Not to mention, you'll regret not joining your friends for these occasions as they help celebrate your high school years.
Going to high school sports games, the school musical, or prom isn't only for Instagram pictures. One day they'll be some of the fondest memories you'll possess. My school hosted a battle of the classes every year where all of the grades fought in various games until one came out superior. Since I was buried in work, I had planned on not participating senior year, but last minute I changed my mind. Attending and winning my last battle of the classes will continue to be one of the most joyous moments I've experienced.
My biggest piece of advice to high school seniors is to hold on to every moment you spend there. I can admit that along with the majority of my peers, I wished for graduation day to come faster so that I could escape high school. High school felt too challenging, I got tired of seeing the same people every day, and I wanted to be able to do what I wanted with no restrictions.
As a freshman in college, it's hard to believe I ever wanted any of that. Even the easiest of college courses are 10 times more difficult than high school classes. I miss waving at dozens of people as I walked down the halls and I constantly wish for my mommy to tell me what the right thing to do is.
On the last day of high school, it hit me really hard that I didn't appreciate what I had when I had it. I must've cried at least 10 times that day as I looked around my school and realized it wouldn't be mine anymore. Being a student at that particular high school was a part of my identity for four long years, which suddenly don't seem so long anymore. Getting myself to exit the school that day knowing that the only time I would return would be as a visitor, not a student, broke my heart.
I know it's hard to imagine now, but your high school years could very well be one of the highlights of your life. I strongly advise you to allow the hours you spend there to last because, after so much time, it truly becomes your second home. Leaving high school and having to enter a completely different journey that is college taught me that you don't truly appreciate what you have until it's gone.