You’ve been preparing for this moment for years, and it’s finally here–you’re a senior in high school! With college applications to complete and graduation on the horizon, it’s easy to get lost in this stressful yet exciting time. So what’s a student to do in order to stay on track, have fun, and maintain some semblance of sanity?
We are huge advocates of using time budgeting as a tool to help you get everything done while also having time left over to indulge in all of the celebrations. Whether you rely on your iCal or are more old school and prefer to write down your commitments manually in a notebook, definitely keep a schedule during your senior year. This schedule shouldn’t merely be an hour-by-hour accounting of how you spend your time (though that can undoubtedly be helpful). Instead, be sure to take more of an eagle’s-eye approach. Identify concrete goals for each week and month to make sure that no deadline catches you off-guard. Be sure to also account for holidays and other occasions that will inevitably cut into your productivity. Be honest with yourself–it’s far more useful to create a schedule that you can actually stick to as opposed to trying and failing to keep to a plan that was unrealistic to begin with. For example, a sample schedule for the months of September and October might look like the following:
- Reach out to teacher recommenders to confirm that they will write letters on my behalf
- Finalize my main Common App essay
- Complete the supplemental essay questions for 3 of the schools on my list
- Complete the Activities List on the Common App
- Complete the supplemental essay questions for 4 of the schools on my list
- Apply to my safety, an in-state university that offers rolling admissions
In September you may also attend the school-wide Homecoming dance, and in October you might have a Halloween bash with your friends. Do not cut these social activities out in an effort to spend more time on your college applications. This approach will assuredly back-fire; you are a human being, not a machine, and you need and deserve some time to have fun and recharge. Instead of viewing this time as frivolously spent, consider it your reward for staying on track with your numerous academic commitments. You could even build an incentive structure for yourself that anticipates such events; for example, you could set a goal of completing a certain number of essay drafts before going to a school dance or hanging out with your friends at the football game.
Whatever you do, don’t rely on your brain alone to keep track of everything going on during this incredibly busy time. Help yourself out by keeping a reasonable schedule, and reward yourself when you make progress. Above all, though, don’t blink–senior year will be over before you know it. Be sure to soak up every minute of this special time in your life.