You're finally nearing the end. In just a few weeks, you'll put on your cap and gown for the real deal, walk across the stage as your name is being called, and grab the diploma you've worked so hard the last four years to obtain. You've waited for this moment probably since the first day of freshman year. Each day at school was all adding up to reach that light at the end of the tunnel that is your high school graduation.

Each day, as soon as the first bell rang for class, you found yourself wishing it was the end of the day already. Each day, you stared at the clock, willing the second hand to move just a little more so history would be over, only to repeat the same process the next period in calculus.

Each day, you ate your lunch in a classroom since there was yet another debate team meeting being held. Each day after school, you changed in the locker room for practice after school. Each day, you wished it was a little closer to Thanksgiving break, then Christmas break, then spring break, then summer break. You were always looking for the next break in the stressful environment that was high school, even while studying for your big AP test coming up.

You're convinced that you're done with the school and done with the people. You won't miss a single one of them, other than select few MAYBE. You've already been accepted to college, so why should you try on the AP tests? Why should you try on any final? In the end, you're already committed, and it's not like they can reject you at this point. The end is finally near, so you no longer have to spend time wishing it away. Instead, you're going to have a blast in college, meet a million new best friends, and study exactly what you want to be studying. It sounds like a dream come true.

But let me tell you the truth.

Unless you have the majority of your high school going to the same college as you, you're about to be hit with a lot of changes. You might actually miss people you would never have thought you would miss. You might look back and wish you would have talked to more people and been more open. You might wish that you would have made amends with that friend that you had a falling out with over some ridiculous boy. You might wish you had tried harder, participated in more, and done something you were always nervous to do before. You might miss your teachers and the solid structure of a schedule. You might start wishing that you hadn't wished all the lasts away before really getting to feel them.

But of course, you might not. Everyone is different.

Regardless, my advice is to be sure you have tied up all the loose ends that you wish to. Even if it isn't before graduation or isn't until part way through your freshmen year of college, if you find yourself wishing you would have made amends, then it's never too late.

Be sure you try hard on those AP tests because they just might get you out of some ridiculously hard college courses that you won't want to take. Savor all the lasts -- the senior nights, the senior prank, the senior skip day. Talk to people in your class that you haven't gotten to know well. Enjoy the simplicity that is high school, even if you don't view it as simple now. You will eventually, so might as well.

I will be honest in that the first few weeks of college are not easy to adjust to. Your study habits may not be where you need them to be, which is okay, but don't convince yourself that you are going to be the one kid that will breeze by without studying. It just doesn't happen. You also aren't going to be studying only what you love your first couple of years.

You're going to have to jump through hoops by taking general education courses that you don't particularly want to, as well as major course requirements that you don't find as appealing. However, keep the faith -- you will eventually get to everything you want to know, and there will be courses along the way that you find yourself falling in love with.

Now, not everyone that you meet in college will be your best friends -- in fact, most of them probably won't be, and you'll probably find that there are tons of people with ways of thinking that you've hardly been exposed to before.

And that's okay.

Use it as a learning experience. You will find some really wonderful people your first years in college. Some of your best friends might come from your freshmen year. Leave your dorm room door open, get to know the people across the hall, and talk to people in your lectures. You're going to want some friends in your classes for study groups and the works.

You will find that college is undoubtedly an adventure. You'll find yourself in various campus organizations you never would have thought you would have joined. You'll meet tons of new people. You'll get to start diving into material that you want to know as opposed to general curriculum. You'll find yourself up at two in the morning on most nights, whether it be from a night with friends or studying hard. You'll learn so much about yourself and who you are.

But, you'll also miss some things about home.

You might miss watching Friday night football games from the sidelines, cheering on your classmates to victory. You might miss talking with your favorite teacher about things that are happening in your life. You might miss how sometimes you didn't have to study too hard for a test because you knew how easy it would be.

You might miss never having to do your laundry on your own. You might miss suiting up for games, acting in the musicals, and answering questions right on the quiz team. You might miss all the memories from hanging out with high school friends.

That's okay. That's normal.

The end of high school is bittersweet. You spend a lot of time wishing it away, but make sure that you enjoy these last moments with your classmates. Make sure you make memories all summer long, reconnect with old friends, and spend time with family. Enjoy the senior cookout, the senior skip day, the senior class trip. Take in all the little things that you think you might miss.

And again, whatever you do, HAVE FUN.

You guys made it all the way here, and that's something to be proud of. Even better, there is a lot more to look forward to. There's a whole life ahead of you, waiting for you as soon as you step on that stage in your cap and gown. Leave behind no regrets, remember where you came from, but always keep in mind where you're headed.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Sincerely,

Once A Senior