Now that you’re in your senior year, chances are good you’re well aware of the college admissions process. You’ve done a lot already, and you probably have a mental timeline of when you need to take tests, submit applications, file the FAFSA, and so on. (No? See the first tip below!) If you’re especially on top of things, you may have even submitted Early Decision or Early Action applications already.
In other words, your focus is probably already on your upcoming college experience and everything you need to do to get ready for it. In the light of all that, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you still have another year in high school! By making the most of your senior year, you can help ensure a smooth and successful transition to college.
Make a Timeline (If You Don’t Have One)
If you haven’t already done this, write down everything you still need to do to prepare for college. This will include things like filling out the FAFSA, taking any remaining tests (like SAT subject tests), and submitting your applications themselves. Be as specific as possible with exact dates for any of the items on your list.
Then organize all the items on your list by date. This will give you a roadmap of college-related deadlines during your final year of high school, and help keep you on track to get everything done.
Take Classes That Transfer
You might be feeling overwhelmed right now: you’re trying to keep up with your course load in high school, all while dealing with the complicated and exhausting process of applying to college, and all of the emotional questions you have surrounding college. Even if you’re incredibly excited for the next stage of your life, it’s completely normal to feel some uncertainty and stress.
Unfortunately, a lot of that is just a dose of what adult life may feel like. In college, you’ll be taking classes that are probably more intensive than your high school courses, while trying to juggle internships, a social life, hobbies, and finding a way to pay the bills.
Be kind to your future self. Look into which courses you can take in your senior year that will transfer for credit in college. Most colleges, for example, give you credit for AP classes you passed successfully. You’re going to be in school for the next year anyway; you might as well take classes that may lessen your load in the future!
Maintain That GPA
Senioritis is real. Especially once you’ve been accepted to a college you’re happy with, it can be incredibly tempting to feel like you’re over the hurdle and like it’s time to relax now. Don’t fall into this trap!
For one thing, your college of choice won’t be happy to see that your grades have dropped during your senior year. If this happens, you may be forced to explain yourself and provide a good reason for the change. If worse comes to worst, the college may even rescind your admission offer. This is generally reserved for dramatic drops in performance, but there’s no reason to risk it by letting your grades falter. The college will almost certainly want to see your grades for all of senior year (that’s right, not just the first semester), so don’t give them any reason to do a double-take.
Keep Up Your Study Habits
On a similar note, keep up the good study habits you’ve been working to develop throughout your education thus far.
Your schedule has trained you to focus for most of nine months, then take the summer off, then repeat the cycle. By this point, this is probably deeply ingrained in you. Slacking off in your senior year can throw off this whole cycle and make it that much harder for you to get back into the swing of classes and studying once you start college. You’ll have enough other things to focus on without the added hassle of struggling to get readjusted to learning!
Bonus: Don’t Forget to Enjoy It!
This year is going to be full of doing the hundreds of tasks necessary to ensure a successful college career. And, as we’ve just explored, it’s important to keep up the academic side of things as well.
With that said, don’t focus so fully on the future that you forget to experience the present. Whether high school has been the best or worst time of your life so far, you’re nearing its end. Next year, you’ll be in a whole new environment, with new friends, new academic expectations, and new life concerns.
Don’t slack on the things you need to do, but don’t forget to enjoy this year as well. Whatever dazzling adventures college brings with it, it won’t be the same as high school, so make some memories you can smile at forever.