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Senior Year Cost WHAT?!

Student contributor, Laura, details the costs of senior year in high school and how you can save.

Laura Magerkurth

November 17, 2011

Senior Year Cost WHAT?!
Everyone looks forward to the final couple of years of high school: you’re getting ready for college, looking forward to graduating, and enjoying all the perks of finally being at the top of the food chain. With all of the excitement of finally finishing high school comes a truckload of fun stuff that solidifies the rapidly approaching milestone of graduation: cap and gown orders. Senior pictures. Class rings. Grad parties. As exciting as these years are, they can also easily become the most expensive, and nobody wants their senior year to cost more than the tuition of their freshman year of college! Whether you’re responsible for paying for some (or all) of the extras or your parents are footing the bill, it isn’t too difficult to make the number on the final senior-year receipt quite a bit lower. One of the most common graduation amenities nowadays is senior pictures. Lots of grads and their parents are opting out of sending their yearbook photos around to friends and relatives—after all, most of us would agree that those often cheesy, squinty-eyed pics aren’t exactly how we’d like to appear on Grandma’s fridge for years to come—and are instead choosing to have an outside photographer take individual, high-quality pictures. As you can imagine, though, the cost for these pictures, not to mention the extra for the photographer’s time and talent and the location, can quickly add up, especially if you decide to take them through a big, well-known studio.

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This price can easily be offset by choosing an individual local photographer or even approach a fellow student who’s into photography and has the right equipment—Googling “senior pictures in my area” or asking around the art department at school will return a host of freelancers hoping to find their next client. Just make sure that the photographer is trustworthy and that you like his or her work before striking a pose! Class rings are another way to showcase who you’ve been over the past four years. With so many different styles, stones, types of metal and inscriptions to choose from, rings often cost in the area of $180-$300, and it’s not easy to bring that price down. The good news is that many providers will fix or resize your ring for little or no cost and that with good care your ring will last until your fiftieth high school reunion and beyond. The partnerships that are common between merchants and schools mean that designing and buying your ring will probably be hassle-free—chances are you won’t have to go hunting for a reliable seller!

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The provider who sold you your class ring as a junior may also be the one who sells you your cap and gown and graduation announcements as a senior. While your cap and gown order isn’t too costly, and you can always use an older sibling’s if they fit, the official announcements with the works—two envelopes, tissues, name cards, calligraphy, the whole nine yards—can be enough to break the bank. Because of this, soon-to-be grads sometimes choose to design and print their own personalized, less formal announcements—and your senior photographer may also be able to provide this service! So you’ve graduated high school and are ready to kick back, relax and celebrate with friends and family. Of all the fun senior stuff, your grad party is probably the least costly and the one you can personalize the most. Of course, hosting at your house is expense-free, and you can make it more of an open house-type shindig instead of a one-to-five party, but if you’d rather have it at another venue, a church or a park would be good places to consider. Food is also fairly simple, since most would be happy with snacks that can be either bought with very little money or made with very little effort, and decorations can be found at any party store or Target. Personalize it a little bit, though, by making a photo slideshow of good times over the years or having a table where guests can see pictures, trophies and other mementos.

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Although your junior and senior year of high school can quickly become expensive, it’s easy to celebrate breaking out of high school without breaking the bank!

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