Your Definitive Guide to Senior Year of High School

High School Musical: Senior Year!!! Let’s do it! Senior year is one of the most memorable and iconic years of high school. You make so many new and exciting memories with your friends and get closer to your classmates as a whole. Plus, you’re the top dog, so you always feel cool at school.

But it’s not always fun and games. Senior year is also full of some stress and disappointment.  Applying for and choosing a college takes up a lot of your time and can really take a mental toll. Here’s a guide to your last year of high school.

Your Mindset

The most important thing, which is why it’s first, is your mental health. Senior year can be one of the most mentally stressful times of high school. So here are some things to keep in mind

Your acceptances and rejections do not determine your self-worth

It is easy to take everything really personally during this time. But that way of thinking will only hurt you in the long run. 

College admissions and the reasoning behind their decisions are complicated. You are so much more than acceptance or rejection. There’s a lot that admissions officers don’t see and you can’t blame yourself for their decision. 

You will find your fit

 “Trust the process” feels like an overdone phrase but it’s true for so many things in life — including finding your ideal school. You will end up in the place you are meant to be. 

 Colleges often know the type of student that will thrive in their environment so even if you get rejected from your dream school it may be for the best. That school might not have been right for you 

Things don’t have to be “traditional”

You don’t need to pick one school and then that’s it! It doesn’t mean you’re stuck in that school for four years. There are always options. You can transfer, take a gap year, and much more. Don’t feel like this is the end-all-be-all of your college experience. 

Don’t be influenced by your friends

So maybe your friend got accepted into your dream school. Maybe all your friends are getting tons of acceptances and you have only gotten one. Everyone has a different journey and everyone will find their place in their own time. 

Choosing Schools to Apply to

Step 1:Make a list. 

It should have 2 sections, including:

What you need 

These things are mandatory for a college to have. This includes things like “must have a computer science program,” “must be at least an hour away from home” or “must-have disability services.”

What you want 

These are what you would like your college to have but it’s not make-or-break. For example  “I want a good fitness center,” or “I want a successful sports team.” These things are important but if everything else is perfect except the sports team hasn’t won a game in 5 years, then that shouldn’t stop you from going to that school.

This list should help you narrow down your search and rank your choices. After this, you should have a list of about 15 colleges (don’t worry, you’ll narrow it down even further).

Step 2: Research

Once you have your list of 15 colleges, start doing more in-depth research

What’s in-depth research you ask? This means finding out more about student life. This includes

Watch videos

Go on youtube and watch any videos posted by students or the school. Often schools will post videos from big events like homecoming or dance marathons. This is will give you a better sense of what life would be like at that school.

Get in touch with a student

Reach out to anyone you may know who goes to that school and ask to have a conversation about what their experience has been like.

 If you don’t know anyone, or if you want varied perspectives, reach out to the school’s admission office and ask to speak to a student about their college experience. Most of the time they will refer you to a school tour guide who can give you really great insight.

If you can, plan some in-person college visits

Being on the campus is a helpful way to feel what it would be like to be a student. But if you can’t visit that totally fine, you can still get a great idea of the school by just doing your online research and talking to students.

After this, you should be able to narrow down your college list to anything from 3 to 10, it’s whatever you feel most comfortable with. Next comes application time!

Step 3: Make a Plan

Yay for more lists! A lot of senior year is about due dates. When to submit X by, when to apply for Y by. You get it. Make sure you keep track of all these due dates and plan ahead so nothing is done last minute.  

Avoid these common mistakes in the application process and you are ready to tackle applying for college. 

Step 4: Choose the School

Once you have all your rejections and acceptances it’s time to commit to a school. Sometimes the school get’s chosen for you. You may have been accepted into your top choice or to only one school and then bam you’re done. 

Here are some tricks to choosing a school:

Remember to keep in mind that list from earlier

Remember the one with your needs and wants? This will help remind you why those schools were on your list in the first place and what you are looking for in a school. 

Make a pro-con list

These are so helpful! Pro-con lists are a great way to put things in perspective.

Ask for advice

While this is ultimately your decision. Feel free to ask parents, siblings, friends, and teachers for advice on the choice.

After all of this, you should be ready to make your choice! 

Senior Year is full of fun memories and adventures but definitely has its hard parts as well. The college application process can be a real downer sometimes. Try to remember that none of it defines you. Always put your mental health first. Make the most out of your time and get ready to start a new journey next year!