It’s really quite funny: how clearly I can still remember it all. I suppose it has only really been eight months, but high school feels like a lifetime ago. I am sure that any college freshman can second this.
However, I can still picture my locker, covered in brightly colored wrapping paper and funny photos my friends printed out for my last birthday. I can still recall the long winding hallways, the small classrooms that I felt right at home in, and the obnoxiously long lunch table my friends and I sat at every day, hidden away in the far left-hand corner of the cafeteria. I remember the fifteen girls I called my best friends, the girls whose laughs and smiles got me through every day in that school. And I’d give anything to go back to one of those days right now.
I love college. I love my friends here, my dorm, my classes… but that doesn’t mean I don’t still find myself missing high school at times. That doesn’t mean I don’t lay awake late at night every now and again, scrolling through old photographs and thinking: Wow. I miss it. I really, really miss it.
So, here’s my advice to the high school senior population. Here’s the advice I wish I was told, and I wish I had listened to.
1. Enjoy the present
I know you’re stressed out. I know you’re overwhelmed by school and grades, and by college applications, SATs, and ACTs. If you’re anything like me, you have every college decision date marked on your calendar, and that ominous May 1st ultimate decision date circled in bright red ink. I know you’re focused on figuring out your future right now, but do yourself a favor and be sure to enjoy the present as well. You’re going to get into college. You’re going to make the most amazing new friends and have the time of your life. But for now, make the most of the time you have left. Make the most of high school.
2. Take pictures. Take lots and lots of pictures.
I don’t care what anyone says. I don’t care if you feel like you’re being annoying, or how often you do or don’t post on Instagram. Take pictures. This is your last chance to document your high school experience, so do it.
3. Spend as much time as you can with your friends
Don’t take them for granted. I know you see them every day and probably don’t even think twice about it, but you should. Pretty soon, all you’re going to have is texts, video chats, and occasional visits home. So whether you’re going out, partying, or just hanging out and watching Netflix, make time for your friends. It will happen, but it’s going to take some time until you have another group of friends as good as these.
4. Tell your parents how much you love them
We all fight with our parents, and we all get angry with them sometimes. But please make an effort to tell them how much they mean to you. Pretty soon you’ll be counting down the months until you can hug your mom again, and share a genuine laugh with your dad.
5. Play with your pets
You’ll miss them more than you can even comprehend right now. Make it a habit to run around with your dogs outside, or to spend some quality time with your cats. When I went away to college, I bought myself a stuffed animal golden retriever within the first month of school because all I wanted was to hug my dogs.
6. Try on your AP exams
Remember when I said not to stress too much about the future? That still applies. But if you can do well on your AP exams, then aim to do well. You have no idea how much those few extra credits can help you out in college.
7. Have a lot of fun and be a little crazy
Go wild. Do the things you always wanted to do, and don’t think twice. Go to that music festival you have always wanted to attend. Talk to the boy who never seemed to notice you. Dare to try something new, and remember that you may be going away to college, but there’s no rush to grow up.
8. Attend as many events as you can
Go to prom. Go to formal. Go to whatever dances, events, and festivals your school and your town have to offer. Make the most of them. Make memories.
9. Go away for a memorable seniors Spring Break
I will never forget my senior Spring Break. My friends and I went to Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, and I can honestly say we all had the time of our lives. Nothing beats being away in another country, on a crazy adventure with your best friends.
10. Enjoy graduation
I promise you, everything is going to work out. So smile. You only graduate once, so remember to grin every time the camera's on you. Feel free to gloat a little. You made it!