Senior year is no joke. It's a lot of pressure culminating in a year where you feel like the rest of your life's success depends on what happens this year. I'm not expert, but here are some things I've learned from being the mother of a senior this year, and from being a senior myself (I know it was a long time ago, but I still remember it).
1. The most important thing I can tell you is to ENJOY yourself! Don't take it all so seriously. Yes, important decisions are being made, and yes, they will determine the course of your life, but there is no rule that says you need to worry about it all day every day. Spend time with your friends. Go to the football games, homecoming dance, rallies, parties, and everything else you love to do. Explore your home town, and enjoy it all. Don't neglect your school work, but don't spend every minute studying and worrying. Try to achieve that nice balance.
2. PLAN AHEAD - Don't wait until the last minute to get your applications and scholarship submissions in. At the beginning of the year choose where you want to apply, and do a little research to find out when the deadlines are. Start early and get a little bit done at a time. Then you won't be up all night the day before the deadline. One huge mistake we made was not getting one of the applications in before the priority deadline. My daughter missed out on a full ride scholarship because of it. That was an expensive lesson to learn.
There are people who you can pay to help you through this process. This might be a great option for you. HERE is an article about college consultants.
Check around to see if there is a local ALUMNI REPRESENTATIVE from the university you are applying to. We were able to get lots of great information about one of the universities my daughter was applying to from the alumni representative for this area. She even had a code waving the application fee. You can find these representatives at college fairs or online.
3. TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES - I don't think teenagers have a hard time doing this, but there are some things you might forget. Take pictures of you and your friends on a regular day at school. Document your favorite lunch spot, your parking space, you with your favorite teacher, your locker, or hanging out in the library. Don't forget pictures at sporting events - maybe even with the school mascot. I promise these images will become priceless to you.
4. EVERYTHING WILL BE OK - All these years you've been told if you don't do well in school you won't get into college, and then you won't be successful in life. Yes, it's true that doing well in high school makes it so much easier to get into a great college, which sets you up for a great education. It's also true that some of you might not get into your dream school despite your hard work. It's incredibly disappointing, and frankly it hurts. Please believe me when I tell you it's not the end of the world. There are countless paths to success. Yours might not be what you always envisioned, but you can get there.
Some of you might get to school and find out you hate it. It's not the end of the world. You have so many options. You can transfer somewhere else, or change your major, or do something completely different. It doesn't mean you've failed. It just means you've ruled out that path in your life. Isn't it so amazing that we have so many opportunities to do what we want? Follow your passions. Do what you love. Don't settle for something that is just OK. You have a long life ahead of you, and you will be so much happier if you can do what you love.
5. DON'T FORGET ABOUT YOUR PARENTS - OK, so this is a shameless plug for moms. It's really hard to see your child grow up and get ready to move away. It's scary, and they worry - A LOT. Be patient with your parents. This is life changing for them, and for you. It's a scary thing to have your child move away. Go easy on your parents. Next year you'll be missing them.
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