Dear 2018 Seniors,
Congratulations! You've made it to the iconic, admired, almost mythic senior year. It's the year where you're the top of the food chain, and you can't help but feel untouchable. Senior year is unbelievably fun, too. You have VIP seats at the front of the student section, prom, a sprinkle of senioritis, and a bright outlook on your future. As I began packing for my first year of college, I had some realizations that I felt really needed to be shared so that you can make the most of your senior year.
While senior year is fun, it's also stressful; you're trying to balance class with applying to college, a multifaceted process that feels like a class of its own. Not to mention it lasts nearly all year long. My advice to you is this: embrace the process. Sure, sometimes you feel like the stress is actually strangling you internally, but this is your moment. The moment you worked towards every year, so spend time on your essays and application to make sure that it's purely you. With this, don't make it a competition. Talk to your friends, help each other out, and offer support. Your teachers want you to succeed, too; they're happy to look at essays and write recommendations if you ask early. Start your applications as soon as possible so you can ask for help and take your time.
With all of that stress, it's tempting to give in to senioritis. You're going to want to stop working hard and "relax" for your last year of high school. Just don't. Use the momentum of your previous years to push you to the finish line because senior year academics are just as important as every other year. Colleges want to see you maintain your drive until the very end.
As the saying goes, "Work hard, play hard." This is another senior year balancing act. Stay involved in all of your extracurriculars. If you've never been to a football game, go. If you've never been to homecoming, go. Take on a leadership role, and remember that no matter what club or activity you're in, there are always younger kids looking up to you. Try everything once, because if not now, then when? You're going to wish you did if you didn't. Senior year is all about making memories and leaving an old chapter with no regrets, so live accordingly (and responsibly).
It's inevitable that at one point or another, the metaphorical shit will hit the metaphorical fan. You will pull a bad grade on a test. You might not get into your school of choice. People will change or show their honest selves, and drama will ensue. But the great thing about life and senior year is that you will live and these things always have a way of working out. Don't let anything make your world come crashing down; in the end, everything will work out for the best. My mindset senior year was to just go with the flow and embrace the journey, and I had a ton of fun.
Make time for your family. Whether you know it or not, you're going to miss them. You're going to wish Mom is burning something in the kitchen and that your sister is stealing your clothes because, at the end of the day, they're the ones who have always been there and always will be. Leaving them will be hard. By senior year, you should know who your real friends are. They've stuck by your side and will be the ones who care about you in the future, so spend time with them, not the people who aren't genuine. You'll regret it otherwise.
Whatever you do, do not wish your senior year away. You may look at the graduated seniors getting ready for college and think to yourself, "I can't wait to get out of here." We all had this thought, but when it comes down to it, you can wait. You're going to want to relive prom every day after it, you're going to miss seeing your friends every day (even if it's in a deteriorating building lacking air conditioning), and you're going to miss your mom packing your lunch or doing your laundry. Getting ready to go to college has shown me that although I spent so much time preparing and counting down the days, the process never prepared me for the reality. It feels like college was this fairytale castle on the hill that you're trying to climb, but when you finally get there, you say to yourself, "Woah, this is actually a real thing." Sometimes, you want to roll back down the hill and start over, just so life will slow down. I did my best to make the most of my senior year, and I've always looked forward to college, but now every time I see my cat I cry. Just enjoy every moment.
This year, love every happy, exciting, sad, crappy, stressful moment. You only get each moment once, and (hopefully) you only have one senior year. Good luck.
A Graduated Senior