Senioritis is Real

Senioritis is Real

By Dale

Senioritis is Real

By Dale
It’s real, and it’s coming for you. 

"But Dalé," you say, "I'm a star student! I would never dream of putting in less than 100% effort into anything I do."

I said the same thing. And then senioritis hit me.

Senioritis doesn't have to mean that you immediately flunk all your classes, drop all your clubs, and rack up 30 unexcused absences in a single grading period. Sometimes, it's this persistent force slowing you down as you go through your final year. All you can think about is college and the excitement of the next four years, and that can make it hard to stay motivated. But you have to stay on track if you want to make it there! Here's how.

1. Take challenging courses.

Resist the temptation to make senior year an "easy" year. It won't reflect well on your transcript! 

Not every class you take has to be Nuclear Physics for High Schoolers, but you should be picking higher-level courses from your school's offerings and maintaining the same rigor of your previous three years.

2. Maintain your grades. 

Grades are often the first victim of senioritis; don't let that happen to you! Stay on top of your assignment deadlines and continue to put in maximum effort in all your classes, even if you don't always want to. If you lose that habit, you'll have to work on getting it back during college. Try not to put yourself in that rough position! 

Right now, some of you are probably thinking about your first year in high school and how your grades weren't what you wanted them to be. That's okay! If your grades show an upward trend that demonstrates that you got back on your feet, colleges will notice that.

3. Stay involved. 

Don't immediately drop all of your extracurriculars senior year. It's okay to drop something if you're no longer passionate about it or you no longer have the time to balance the commitment but don't drop things because senioritis is telling you to. It's good to show consistency and commitment in your involvements. Besides, if you're passionate about what you do, it should be easy to stay. 

That said, don't go to the other extreme and join a million clubs because you're having an existential crisis compelling you to over involve yourself. It'll burn you out and you won't be able to have a meaningful experience in any of those clubs if you spread yourself too thin. It won't make a difference in your application if you go from being in two clubs for three years to being in 10 clubs your senior year.

 4. Schedule a retake of the ACT or SAT (if you feel like that's the right choice for you).

Some of you are probably planning to retake the SAT or ACT in hopes of getting a score you're happier with. If you're one of those people, make sure that you've scheduled your retake in time for the application deadline you've chosen! For UM, the deadlines to have the testing agency send your official test scores are November for Early Decision I and Early Action applicants and December for Early Decision II and Regular Decision applicants.

5. Ask for your letters of recommendation early.

No teacher or counselor wants to be asked for a letter of recommendation 24 hours before it's due. All you'll get out of that is a glassy-eyed stare.

Ask early in the school year, at least one to two months before the application deadline. They'll appreciate the advance notice. It might sound really early, but think about it–other students will likely ask that same teacher for a letter of recommendation. The sooner you ask, the more time they have to plan a thoughtful letter for you. If you wait too long to ask, they might be all booked up and will have to turn you down.

 6. Create your college shortlist. 

 The key word here is "short." Don't create a list that's 30 schools long–odds are you don't actually have a deep burning desire to attend every single one of those schools, and your applications will suffer for it. Applying to too many schools is overwhelming, and it's why there are stories like, "I ended my application essay to UM with 'That's why I want to attend [insert other university name here].'"

 Take the time to actually reflect on all the universities you're looking at and create a list that maxes out at around 10. This will let you dedicate more time and effort to each application. I know it can be hard to get a feel for the school without being there, which brings me to... 

7. Visit the schools you're interested in.

Visiting campuses can often make whittling down your shortlist easier. You get a direct look into daily life at that school and you can ask current students questions about academic programs, student life, or the surrounding area.

If visiting is not an option for you, plenty of schools, such as UM, offer virtual tours. It's a great alternative, and using it still lets you check out the campus and the amenities it offers.

8. Start your Common Application.

You might have developed a talent for procrastination, but believe me when I tell you that's not how you want to approach the Common Application. There are several sections that need to be carefully filled out, and "careful" is not a word often associated with last-minute panic at a deadline. You also definitely want to start your essay ahead of time so you can get feedback on it!

Need more help navigating and understanding the Common App? I've already got you covered; check our previous post here.  

9. Enjoy it!

This one might sound out of place compared to the others, but it's every bit as important. There can be a lot to worry about during senior year, but there's also a lot to enjoy. Speaking from experience, senior year will fly right by you. Take a break from time to time to appreciate the friends you've made, the teachers who have shaped you, and the end of this chapter of your life.

LYGC (Love You Go Canes), 

Dale