Wise words from a departing senior


As a second semester senior, I have learned and forgotten years of wisdom. Even though I may not remember any ions from chemistry, I have learned from my high school experience and can pass along my knowledge to the future upperclassmen of Paly.

SAT,  ACT,  AP classes and college applications — these will become a few of your least favorite things. Junior and senior year pose many challenges to the high school student. You feel like your every move is being considered for your college application.

Starting off junior year, you are going to start thinking about standardized testing and grades. With standardized testing, you are going to want to familiarize yourself with both the ACT and SAT. I would highly recommend taking both tests.  If I could offer one “secret tip to success,” I would tell you not to stress. I stressed for my first SAT and didn’t do very well. I then took a month of off studying before my second go at it and significantly improved my score. Even more evident was with my ACT. I took the ACT early second semester and was satisfied with my score. My friend did better than me in his early first semester of senior year so I almost jokingly challenged myself to take it again. I went in blind and did not treat it with much seriousness and I made an evident improvement.

After surviving junior year it is important to start preparing yourself for college applications. Your best tool for success in this trying time is summer. During the summer you can either start your applications or spend your time doing things that will go on your applications. You can’t go wrong either way but I would suggest creating a summer experience that will be personally fulfilling as well as application filling. The key is to do it for yourself and let the cherry on top be that you get to write about it. If you pay loads of money to go to Africa to paint houses and you don’t personally get anything out of it you have lost money and time.

Another way to spend your time during breaks or over the summer is visiting and researching colleges. If you narrow your college choices down early you will end up writing less essays and be able to make better decisions about when to put in your application. One of my regrets of this process is not being decisive when it came to deciding if I wanted to submit early action slot applications.

After you finish your college applications, relax. There is nothing you can do anymore and it is better to enjoy the final days of high school. Spend time with the friends you’ve made over the years and enjoy the company of the amazing peers in your grade that you have been sleeping on for the past three years.

It is as true as it is cliche — high school is going to be over before you know it.