The Five Step Cure for Senioritis
Five steps high school seniors can take to remain interested and focused during the second semester of their senior year.
I was proctoring a midterm exam 0ne morning for a class of seniors. Students were allowed to prepare a notecard with terms and use it throughout the exam, though only about half the class chose to do so. One student – about ten minutes into the exam – asked me if I had a pencil he could borrow, as he hadn’t brought one of his own.
So you pencil-forgetting, notecard-not-making high school seniors who think that you’re going to cruise control through the rest of the year until your graduation party, this one’s for you!
I know - you’ve spent the last three years studying hard, taking exams, working, playing sports, being involved. You’ve taken the SAT’s, written college essays, filled out the applications, and might even already be accepted into some of your college choices. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it shines brighter with every passing mod.
This is not the time to slack off.
School isn’t over, and college admission officers, those same ones that sent you that warm, fuzzy, congratulations-you’re-a Panther/Viking/Hawk/miscellaneous college mascot-letter, are still keeping a close eye on your academics.
Most college applications require you to list your senior year courses including levels (honors, AP, IB, etc) and credits. They’ll pay attention if you drop courses. They want to know your midterm grades, and how you do on final exams. Whether you were paying close attention to your application when you filled it out, most college acceptances are contingency letters – meaning, your admission to their school is dependent on you maintaining your academic performance. They have the right to withdraw their admission if your senior grades drop to a level that no longer impresses those same lovey-dovey admissions officers. You will submit your final transcript and they will study it. Closely. Think back to 11th grade English – don’t Biff.
So how can you keep focused senior year when you’re thinking about college co-eds, frat boys, and no curfew? Use the rest of this year to better yourself – with challenging courses, new experiences, and strategies to prepare you for a successful freshman year at the college of your choice.
STEP 1: Make the most of your USCHS courses
Regardless of the fact that as a teenager you know everything, your teachers and the USC curriculum still offer a lot for you to learn. If you’re on the AP or IB route, staying focused and studying hard might earn you college credits and a bypass of boring old introductory college courses. If not, you can still use this year to get in top academic shape – try some new study techniques, develop or maintain your good study habits. This will make your transition to college easier and more successful.
STEP 2 - Stay involved
By now, seniors, you’ve determined what activities (sports, clubs, etc) interest and are important to you. Stick with them. This is your chance to leave your mark. Take a lost freshman under your wing. Help upcoming officers set goals for the future of your organization. Pass things down. Start a tradition. Offer advice. Make memories with your friends. Heck, not only will it keep you busy, but you will have more photos for your dorm room bulletin board.
STEP 3 – Get a jump on college classes
Interested in a particular subject or major? Want to test out of Chem 101 or Introduction to English? Consider taking a class at CCAC or another local university. Not only will it help keep the hamster running around the wheel of your brain, but you could earn college credits and start a step or two ahead of your peers come fall.
STEP 4 – Volunteer
Considering multiple majors? Unsure of what career path best fits your personality and interests? Spend time volunteering in an area that you might want to study or eventually work. Whether you find out that professional baseball diamond landscaper is definitely the field for you (pun intended) or you determine that you will never make a career out of cake decorating, volunteering can give you insight into what will – or won’t – work for your future. Better to know now than in four years when you walk across the stage at your college with a degree choice that you have come to despise.
Here’s the thing – you’ve got to be proactive and hunt out opportunities - ask around, make phone calls, use your connections at the high school. Most people and companies are happy to help and flattered by your interest in their careers – you just have to ask. Help out at a hospital for a day, spend an hour a week at the animal shelter, file paperwork at a research lab while you pick the brains of the people walking the walk.
STEP 5 – Get a J.O.B.
You’ll enjoy starting off your college career with a little cash in your pockets. Maybe that volunteer experience could lead to part-time employment? Work that connects in some way to future pursuits will keep you interested and motivated for what lies ahead. Or, turn an interest into spending money. So you bike? See if any of the local shops needs help. You’re into music? Perhaps you could give private lessons to younger kids in the area. Take what you enjoy and turn it into a job, and you’re less likely to get bored or burned out.
I know that June will be here before we know it, but for now, keep focused, keep interested and active, keep working, and you’ll set yourself up for a transition to – well, being a bottom of the totem pole freshman, once again.
Adapted from College Board’s “What to do about Senioritis?”