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The Last Battle: Senior Year

Five tips to help you win the fight against procrastination, missed deadlines, and other calamities.

A Fastweb Student Contributor shares her tips for making the most of senior year amidst college applications.
The Last Battle: Senior Year
Senior year can be tough for several reasons, whether it be a higher number of AP classes, college application deadlines, or simply the anxiety of making (what seems like) countless decisions. As someone's who's already been there, below are my top five tips to making the best of your senior year!
  1. 1. Do Not Procrastinate! Yes, many of us breathe procrastination—but seriously—don’t do it. I won’t go into the repetitive discourse on the great regret that ensues upon the arrival of a deadline, but I will say this: start early. And I don't mean you have to start working the day of receiving that large project, college application, or some other task; instead aim to look over it and sketch out a plan-of-attack sometime within the week of receiving it.

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    Having an outline (even a rough one) in week one will motivate you to keep working towards your goal. Once you start the assignment, plot out times/days dedicated solely to this task; however, if you do find free time on your hand, knock out a step or two ahead of time. Likewise, if you find yourself overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to take some time off to recover mentally; working while exhausted won't improve whatever project you're working on. It's better to step back for a while and let the ideas flourish in your head for a while… which then leads me to my second tip—
  2. 2. Mental Planning is Worth it. Think of it this way, before you start to write that admissions essay, submit that paper, or take the midterm or final, plan out some time for thinking (and this will help in college as well)!

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    I know, I know. Senior year already involves enough stress and pondering without needing to dedicate even more time to it. Hear me out— I’m not talking about stressing out and rethinking every decision you’ve made in the past 24 hours, week… life. Instead, go for a walk or ride a bike (so preferably an outdoor activity) to take some time to probe your stress factor and try to create some mental resolutions. Have a test coming up at the end of the week? Instead of worrying about how you’re not prepared or won’t study enough, think about talking to your teacher to go over what you're confused about or figure out which notes you need to review. In other words, create a plan-of-attack. On the other hand, if you're not stressed but lacking inspiration for an essay or project, simply mull over the topic for a while. Exercise stimulates your brain, so use those fired-up synapses to your benefit! After 30 minutes or so, you’ll likely feel more prepared to take on a task, or at the very least, more relaxed and less stressed than before.
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  4. 3. Get Involved! If you didn't get involved in organizations and the clubs offered by your school in the past three years, joining one senior year to impress the college admissions panel—the hard truth—won’t create a drastic impact on your resume (but something is better than nothing). However, if you find yourself drawn towards a certain activity or topic (or, as mentioned previously, you need something to put on the extracurriculars list), I highly recommend trying out something new! Is there an elective you always wanted to take but never had time for before? Take it! Once you leave high school, you’ll virtually be paying thousands of dollars for any class you take in college. If there’s an organization that interests you, try investing some time to check it out. You'll have an outlet to release all your pent-up stress and perhaps discover an entirely new passion!
  5. 4. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help! For some reason, many students (and parents) tend to attach a negative connotation to the term ‘tutoring.’ But honestly, reaching out for help is one of the single best actions you can take for yourself. Whether it be going to a teacher for help with a topic, asking your counselor for college advice, or prepping for the SAT/ACT with a coach or fellow student, being willing to go out and discover the information you need is a key to success. Plus, seeing your teachers outside of the classroom can help prep you for the way professors tend to meet in college (they usually refer to their office hours when a student needs help). I regularly met with my calculus teacher during senior year as we learned new topics. And later on, as a freshman in college, I attended my math professor’s office hours almost weekly (needless to say, I will not be majoring in mathematics). The moral is: don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your grades will reflect your efforts.
  6. 5. Last but not least, it’s not where you’ll go, it’s who you are. Let me explain. As you create your list of safety, target, and reach schools, there might be some disappointment when the admission letters start arriving. Whether you got rejected or didn't receive enough scholarships (if neither and you can attend your dream school, kudos to you!), recognize that there are still plenty of viable options. You chose those safety schools for a reason, and if you have to fall back on them, trust your decision-making. Wherever you do attend, whether it be the dream school, safety school, community college, trade school, the workplace, or another place, it is your own character that will ultimately have the most significant impact on your experience. Sure, location will matter to some effect, but not so much as how you decide to react to the situation. As the saying goes, if you can’t change something, change your attitude about it. Senior year can be a roller coaster of emotions, but it’s also a time to pause and reflect. Soak in the adrenaline, and as you wait there, at the very top of the hill with momentum building inside of you, recognize your strength and ability to overcome the obstacles, and sit back to enjoy the ride!

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