Senior Year: Making the Most of Your Last Year of High School
You did it. You made it to your senior year of high school. You started out in kindergarten as a kid playing with stickers, coloring pictures, and taking naps. Now you’re a young adult probably still playing with stickers, taking tons of pictures with your phone, and wishing there was naptime in high school. The finish line is in sight and senior year is the time to enjoy yourself.
I know. You’re probably thinking, “Joey, have you been living under a rock? We can’t even go to school because of the virus!” Life is definitely strange right now, I admit. The class of 2020 certainly wasn’t expecting to have their senior year ruined with a global virus. We all hoped that maybe things would get better before the school year ended, but here we are. But just because the world is turned upside down right now, doesn’t mean your senior year is ruined.
Your senior year is one of the most important years of your life, not only academically but socially. This is one of the years you will remember for the rest of your life; I know I certainly remember mine. But while things are incredibly different for you than they were for me, there are still ways to make the most of this last year of school before you make the next move in your life.
Make Time to Study and Focus
“Joey, how can I make the most of senior year if I’m studying?” You can’t just be a senior and not study. You still have to go to class, take tests, do your homework, and definitely study. If you have good time management skills and study habits, you’ll be studying effectively and you’ll have plenty of time to do other things.
Throughout your senior year, make sure you’re paying close attention to your grades and talking to your teachers to see how you’re doing. This is part of being a responsible adult and a good student if you’re moving on to college after high school. Always be aware of how you’re doing academically and have a good relationship with your teachers. If you ever get yourself into a jam and need a little flexibility, you’ll be glad you have that working relationship with your teachers who might be willing to help you out.
Don’t slack when it comes to the important assignments. Tests carry a lot of weight on your grades and overall GPA, or grade point average. If you’re working on going to college or hoping to graduate with honors, make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your GPA high.
Try Something You Haven’t Done Before
Unless you’re taking a bunch of academic classes already, you likely have a little bit of flexibility in your schedule. If you do, this is the time to consider taking a class in something you may have always wanted to take, but couldn’t work it into your schedule. Maybe it’s a fine arts class, or culinary arts, or maybe even a business related course. If you have the opportunity to learn something new, try it. This is a chance to take a free class in something you might not know you like.
The same goes for extracurricular activities. Taking up a sport might be a bit difficult to do now that it’s your senior year, but you can join clubs and get to spend more time hanging out with your friends. Plus, extracurricular activities look great on a college application. Depending on your school, options might include drama club, yearbook club, a foreign language club, honor society, or anything else you think you’d enjoy.
The point is to use your time in a way that will help you make some great experiences you can remember long after you’ve graduated. But, by taking an extracurricular or elective, you might discover you’re interested in something you had no idea you liked.
College is Gonna be Awesome
While you’re excited about graduating high school, you should be even more excited you’re about to start college. College is a massive step in every young adult’s life and if you will likely make even more important memories while you’re there.
If you’ve already been accepted, start making plans about the things you’d like to do when you finally get there. Maybe you’re heading off to a new town far from home. Make future plans to see and try new things while you’re there. College is all about having new experiences now that you’re an adult.
Prepping for college is important. While it might be too soon to pack things up, it’s not too soon to start buying things you will definitely need when you finally move into the dorms. You’ll need things like new bedsheets, a mini fridge, a microwave, definitely a coffee pot, and a ton of school supplies.
Participate and Celebrate a Little More
If you never took the time to go to a football game, basketball game, or pep rally, now is definitely the time to do it. No, you’re not too cool to hold up a spirit stick, hold up a sign, wear a class t-shirt, and be proud to be a senior. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You’ve got plenty of time for that down the road.
When you have a chance to show off your school spirit. Go to a football game and cheer for your team, go to homecoming and run for king or queen, go to prom with someone you like or with a group of friends.
Get your closest friends together and plan a trip, even if it would be a little different with everything going on. Making memories with friends is important during this time of your life. There is a good chance that many of the people you’re spending time with during your senior year you likely will never see again. That’s just how life goes sometimes. Our friends don’t always follow us down the road we take. Hence, why it’s so important to make enjoyable memories while you’re young and have time. And speaking of friends….
Evaluate Your Relationships with People
It sounds harsh, but this is a good time to evaluate all of the friends you have in your life and find out which ones are the real friends and which are just there for a good time. This is definitely one of those things you’re not going to look forward to when you realize it has to be done, but it has to be done eventually.
A real friend will be there for you through the good times and the bad. Part of evaluating your friendships is admitting to yourself which of those friends have only been there for the good. The people that stuck around through the bad times are your real friends. These are the people you should try your best to keep in touch with while you’re at college. Perhaps, you might even be going to the same college together and you would at least have one friend while you’re in a new place.
You’ll meet tons of new people when you’re finally at college. You’ll meet people much different than yourself from different cultures and backgrounds. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, what kind of person you want to be, and the kind of people you want to be around. And the friendships you make after you figure all these things out will be the friendships you likely take with you for the rest of your life.
The Pandemic is a Challenge to Overcome
“Joey, how can we have a great senior year when we can’t celebrate being seniors?” I admit, it’s going to be a bit tricky doing things everyone else from years past took for granted. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to still have important senior class moments.
In my hometown, for example, senior classes held parades in their neighborhoods to celebrate their senior class. Neighbors came out and waved from the safety of their homes or on the roadsides to wave at the senior class. They decorated their vehicles, played music, and made the best of things. Some of these parades were so popular, they’ll likely be a new tradition once things are back to normal.
It takes thinking outside the box to come up with ideas like this. Yes, it’s important to be safe and practice social distancing and wear masks. But there are safe ways to celebrate, just like the parade idea.
An even better way to leave your mark and celebrate is to help others. Organize a food drive, raise money for a food bank, donate blood, or clean up a park as a class. Life will always have its challenges, great and small. What matters is how we overcome them when they happen.
Do your Best to Be Happy
Look, senior year is going to be a lot of things: stressful, expensive, busy, crazy, even more expensive, really stressful, and especially tiring. But through all of it, do your best to stay happy. Find ways to destress when you get a chance and definitely take the time to be social when the opportunity arises.
If you’re an honors student, you’re going to have a lot of studying and a lot of homework. If you’re not, you’re still probably going to be pretty busy and time is going to fly by faster than you realize.
The best thing you can do is make sure you’re staying organized, staying on top of things, and making time for yourself and your friends. Make important memories, create those stories you want to be able to tell one day when you’re older, but most importantly prepare yourself for the future ahead of you.
It’s a big year for you. Enjoy it. Congratulations!