How to Make the Most of Your Senior Year

Congrats, you made it to the last year of high school! By now, you’ve probably got your sights set on graduation and life after high school: college, jobs, the military, or other challenging and exciting endeavors. It’s important to approach this year with balance: you want to plan ahead, but remember that the decisions you make senior year can affect you for the rest of your life. Check out this list for ideas on how to take advantage of your final year of high school. 

1. Try something new at school. 

Before high school, everyone probably told you to join a sport or club in order to make friends and stay involved. If you haven’t found something that really fits, it’s not too late to try a new extracurricular! You might discover something you really love. The same goes for making friends -- you can still branch out and hang with new people if you feel like you haven’t found your community. 

2. Clean up your social media.

What happens on the Internet doesn’t really stay there. Even if you keep your profiles set to private, you never know how your posts will affect you in the future (screenshots, anyone?). Take this chance to clean up your social media before future employers, admissions teams, coaches, or roommates see something they shouldn’t. Try some of the suggestions here.

3. Ask for help.

Right now you go to a school building every day where there are dozens of people whose job is to help you! If you have any questions about your future plans, ask for help. You’re not bothering anyone. Try talking to your counselor or homeroom teacher. Check out your college and career center or even your school’s website. And don’t forget KTCC is always here to help. 

4. Visit a college campus.

You can visit college campuses any time during the year: before applying, after applying, and after getting accepted. If you want to check out a school that is far away, try applying for a fly-in program where they pay for your visit! If you’re not sure if you want to go to college, try visiting a local campus if possible. Walking around and seeing the classrooms and students might be the thing that helps you decide one way or the other. 

5. Write a scholarship essay.

Scholarships are free money. The biggest scholarships usually require that you write an essay or two. A lot of people decide not to apply to these because they’re tired of writing, so take advantage of these opportunities! Since many applications have similar questions, try pulling from your personal statement to answer them. Check out programs like College Greenlight for help, too. 

6. Get your teachers’ contact information.

Your teachers still care about you after you leave high school! Make sure you get their contact information so that you can keep in touch. Teachers love to hear what exciting things you’re up to in college or your career. 

7. Remember that your test scores don’t define you.

Many high school seniors retake the ACT or SAT in the fall of their senior year, which means you’ll probably hear talk about scores. If you’re not wildly happy with your score, remember that test scores don’t define you. Not only can you still have an amazing college experience, think about everything else you’ve learned in the last four years that can’t be represented on a test. 

8. Don’t give up.

Senior year is one of the first opportunities for you to decide for yourself what you want to do. Before this, adults have told you what you have to do! The college or job application process can drag on, but it’s important to be thoughtful instead of just picking something in order to be done with the decision-making. Even if you’re the last person in your friend group to figure out your post high school plans, take the time to pick something you feel really good about.

9. Apply early. 

Submitting a college application isn’t just filling out a form and hitting “submit”-- there are loads of things you’ll need from your counselor and school to send in afterward. Leave yourself plenty of time to get all the supplemental parts of your applications. Also, many schools have rolling admission, so the sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll hear!

10. Make a playlist of your favorite songs from high school.

Try making one with your friends and sharing it with each other. It’ll be priceless when you’re nostalgic in the future.  

11. Remember that you belong.

You might be the first in your family to graduate high school or the first to go to college. Maybe you had doubts about reaching this point in your education or others had doubts about you. No matter what, you belong here. Growth will change you, and you might not feel like the person you once were, but you got here with your own intelligence and character, and you’ll only continue to keep growing. 

This post was written by KIPP Through College & Career Program Manager, Alexa Squire.

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