Survival guide: senior year edition

Advice from students, teachers and counselors

Angie Bleau, News Editor

Senior year is harder than you think, involving college applications, scholarships, school assignments and fear of what your future holds — so many big decisions that will affect our future. The questions ‘Where do I even start?’ or ‘When do I start?’ was persistent in our minds; it’s like you need a roadmap to survive senior year.

Although I’m a senior, I’m not an expert, nor are my experiences representative of every other seniors’. So, I asked students, teachers and counselors for advice they would give to rising seniors, involving topics such as ideas of where to start on college essays, scholarship searching, senioritis and how to pick the right college. 

Here is a little bit of that advice and guidance.  



As you near the end of one of the most important years of high school, it’s time to start thinking about senior year and college applications, which can be overwhelming. If you start now, you can take time to learn the whole college application process and give yourself space so that your senior year isn’t overloaded. Log into Naviance and explore.

Mina Jung/ talon

“Take care of yourself as you navigate standardized tests and course expectations; prioritize effectively (don’t forget sleep and fun) and ask for help when you need it. Try to avoid overcommitting yourself, as even the best laid plans can go awry and it

 can help to remain flexible,” Counselor Andrea Lanter wrote to the Talon.



Take a break and get into a better headspace, but also start thinking about the college atmosphere. Going on college tours, for example, can help you get an understanding of what you want for your college experience and if nothing else, college tours make for nice family trips.

Mina Jung/ talon

“I highly recommend writing the college essays while you’ve got the mental space, but if inspiration is lacking, do some reflecting and answer the following questions for yourself: “Who am I, how do I know, and why does it matter?” Here are the makings of a strong personal statement!” English teacher Jessica Wall wrote to the Talon.



Bring on the college apps! The college application process may be stressful, but use those moments of reflection you took during the summer to start writing those personal statement and college application essays.. Just get the college applications done before deadlines because they can take a while to complete and submit; don’t procrastinate. 

Despite all the work and pressure of college applications, remember to make the best of your senior year. Make those final memories with your friends, play those final buzzer games like they are your last and live your highschool life to the fullest. 

Mina Jung / talon

“ The real world is waiting for you, so don’t feel like you have to rush head first into it.  Enjoy your last free year of education, hang out with your friends and also realize that your mom is going to freak out about you leaving the house for college, so give her some grace,” history and social science teacher DJ Cook wrote to the Talon.  



The waiting game is on now — waiting to hear back on college acceptances, scholarship results, and even rejection letters. Everything starts to feel real as time winds down faster than expected and you hit  the senioritis threshold. Remember that everything will be okay! Just focus on what is ahead and keep walking one foot in front of the other.

Mina Jung / talon

“Prepare for the fact that the end of high school comes quickly and no matter how you feel about school, there is going to be some sadness as a chapter of your life comes to a close. Also, don’t do anything that will cost you your college admission. Other than that, have fun and quit stressing so much!” Cook wrote to the Talon. 



APPLY TO EVERYTHING! Don’t underestimate how much money you can receive from scholarships. With this money, you may be able to minimize your student loan debt.  Research online portals and local organizations and just apply. Have essays that you can use for the scholarship, and ask for letters of recommendation in advance. Apply even when you think you might not get any money. Applying won’t hurt but not applying will. 

“Focus on scholarships for which you are a good fit if you choose to apply for any; making sure you meet the minimum requirements for scholarships ensures that you have a chance at selection and that your time is used wisely,” Lanter wrote to the Talon. 

FAFSA is also an important tool for receiving financial aid. The FAFSA application opens in October and is to be filled out with a parent or guardian every year you plan to attend college for the following year.

Mina Jung / talon

“The FAFSA also includes consideration for grant opportunities based on your expected family contribution, and grants do not have to be paid back. Your future college financial aid office is a good place to check back in every year as there may be other scholarships you become eligible for as you amass more experience and progress through your college career,” Lanter wrote. 



You are picking the place you will want to call home for the next four years. Finding a school like that will be hard, and sometimes it’s not your dream school; I certainly didn’t think I would be going across the country for college, but I am. Look at the college’s programs and decide if that will help you achieve what you want for your education. It’s all about finding the right balance between looks, feeling of home and programs.

Mina Jung / talon

“The right college for you is the one you choose! I attended UC Irvine for college, and although it was not my first choice, I couldn’t have chosen a better university for me because it led me to discover my passion for teaching.

You will find your niche and your people no matter where you go,” math teacher Brianne Hazlewood wrote to the Talon.



Senioritis really does happen and it can ruin motivation to get anything done. During this time period you just have to remember that you have to keep going. You didn’t work this hard for four years to not even be able to graduate. If it’s hard to see the big picture, look at it in small increments.

Mina Jung / talon

“Plan ahead and start the Spring semester strong so that you are not digging yourself out of a hole in the Spring of Senior year,” Lanter wrote to the Talon. “You will thank yourself for putting in the work so that you can focus on the fun activities of being a senior instead of worrying about passing all of your classes.”



Your four years of high school come to a close at this moment. While you may be nervous about the future, spend this time with the people around you before you all move off in different directions. 

Mina Jung / talon

“Do the cheesy stuff. Prom corsages, the pictures in your mortarboard and robes, dropping big money on grad night, hugs for your favorite teachers — do it all. For the rest of your life, people will ask you about your final high school days. Give yourself a story — you might just want to remember it,” Wall wrote to the Talon.