Can you even believe that the fall semester is already over? The end of your senior year is so close, you can taste it. New adventures are on the horizon, no matter what you may decide to do after high school.
Maybe you’ve sent in 15 college applications, or maybe you’re someone who has yet to apply anywhere and is feeling a little in the dark about what to do about this… no matter what your situation is, we have some tips for you to keep in mind to make your last semester of high school less stressful. Take our advice, and that cap and gown that awaits you in five months will feel like wearable liquid gold!
1. Don’t stress out!
If you haven't applied to your dream school yet, don't panic (even if your parents or friends seem to be panicking). Just know that you have many options for yourself… take a few deep breaths and keep on reading…
2. Start applying to colleges with rolling admissions.
Many schools out there have deadlines that go into February and even March 1, and even more have what’s called “rolling admissions,” which means you can apply anytime up to early summer (in some cases). You still have options for submitting applications, so don’t count them out. If application fees are stopping you from applying, here is a list of colleges with no application fee - so, what do you have to lose?
1. Top Rolling Admissions Colleges
2. Colleges with February 1st or Later Deadlines
3. Colleges with no Application Fee
3. Fight Senioritis!
Try not to adapt the stereotypical mindset of a “second-semester senior.” Stay on top of your classes and homework and do your best to maintain or increase your GPA. If you are someone who is applying to colleges, they are going to look at your final transcript, and this semester matters more than you think!
For more tips on how to combat senioritis, check out our blogpost (written by an actual senior)
4. Look into taking a gap year after graduation.
Maybe school isn’t the thing for you next year, and that’s ok! Did you know that students who take a gap year graduate faster and have higher GPAs in college? There are a ton of opportunities to gain some good experience either traveling, interning, or taking part in a program that lets you explore a certain career path. Check out websites like Gap Year Association and TeenLife to learn about the benefits and see what’s out there! The world is your oyster, and you will discover amazing things about yourself during this time.
5. Community college can be cool.
Don’t knock it. There are many great community colleges, and they will even set you up on a pathway to transfer to a bigger university if that’s what interests you eventually. Community college classes are nothing to laugh at – they can be challenging! Some even have dorms, so you don’t have to live at home if you want the experience of branching out.
6. Stay involved in school activities.
Have you been a part of extracurriculars like sports or clubs? Maybe you’ve had a job during high school or have found a volunteer opportunity that has changed your life. Don’t stop these things now; just like keeping your grades up, it’s important to keep yourself involved in activities outside of school. Maintaining a healthy balance is a great thing to practice, and having outlets and experiences beyond studying will provide great growth opportunities!
7. Visit college campuses.
Are those acceptance letters starting to roll in? Are you plagued with indecision as a result? (Maybe this isn’t happening yet, but there’s a good chance it will within the next two months!) Make time to go check out college campuses, and, if you can get to your top choices, even better! Stay with a friend in a dorm for a weekend, take official tours, do whatever you can to get a feel for what the campus is like. Go with your gut when it’s time to decide – only you know what’s best for you, and this is a big and exciting decision to make! Campus visits will only help you in making this decision.
8. Look into financial aid for free money for college!
Even if you’re not sure that you’re going to attend college next year, it can’t hurt to look into financial aid options. EVERYONE should be applying for FAFSA - the sooner the better. You can go back to that application later to enter your schools of choice if you don’t yet know where you are going to apply. Check carefully for deadlines on school websites as well. There are plenty of scholarships and financial aid options out there – don’t think automatically that college is not for you because you can’t afford it. When in doubt, just call the financial aid office and talk to a human. The “sticker price” on a college website is usually not what students have to pay in the end. Be smart and resourceful!
9. Spend time with good friends and family, and remember to say thank you!
It’s important to practice gratitude and to continue this throughout your life. Did you have a teacher, a guidance counselor, or a different mentor who wrote you a letter of recommendation for your college apps? Do you still need to ask someone? Don't miss out on the opportunity to show them that the effort they spent was worth it by writing them a gratitude letter. Even a little handwritten note saying "thank you" can really go a long way. Beyond this simple thing, there are so many people who have helped you get to this milestone in your life – it’s time to start thinking about do some meaningful reflection and let them know how grateful you are for their support and help, especially when your high school diploma is in hand.
10. Have fun, you only have a few months left as a high school senior.
You only get to be a high school student once! So even though there is still a lot to think about, and we definitely don’t want you slacking off on school and your other responsibilities, this semester will be over before you know it, and you should have some fun (yet make good decisions…) while it lasts. Take it all in, and cherish these moments.