Advice for seniors: how your last year of high school should be spent


Lucia Kempton, Staff Writer

The emotions and stresses of senior year are strongly juxtaposed by the alleged reward of graduation and a little bit of slacking. But, how far can “senioritis” go before it affects your long term work ethic? How much further will teachers continue to push their burnt-out students who have mostly already been admitted to the next stages of their education?

I am a senior. Of course, I am burnt out. I have been working myself into spirals since my freshman year, trying to get into a good college. I am sure that all seniors share this similar sensation of being “over” high school. As of February, all of our college applications were submitted. Our mid-year grades are now submitted, and our futures are out of our hands. There are a lucky select few who have already received college acceptance letters, or have even made commitments to schools, but many of us are stuck in the purgatory known as the “waiting period”. Technically speaking, our grades do not matter unless we are trying for a merit scholarship, or we have a fear of our acceptances becoming rescinded. It is our last year of high school: our last year living at home before moving away for the rest of our lives, and our last year before the entire trajectory of our lives is changed for good.  

Of course, education is a great privilege that should not be taken for granted. However, being surrounded by childhood friends, family, and a familiar city is also a privilege which we are all about to lose. I think that senior year should be spent embracing these opportunities and these people, rather than stressing about school for another five months. According to The Scholarship System, academic burn-out is most common in High School seniors; “Juggling school work, college applications, scholarships, extracurricular activities, graduation preparations, and everything else is daunting.” It is difficult: everyone knows that. That is why senior year in high school should be spent prioritizing yourself over your school work. 

To be clear, I am in no way trying to promote skipping school, not doing homework, or anything of this nature. However, once you are half-way through your senior year, you should be able to cut yourself some slack. Most of us spend our entire highschool careers feeling stressed instead of feeling alive. I believe that seniors should grind for the first two quarters. This way, we can ensure that all grades are in order for colleges to see, and our grade averages and absences are saved for the rest of the year. By the third quarter, senior year is a time to relax. It is a time to focus on social activities, go out for lunch, or stay home and have breakfast with your parents. Perhaps, it is time to get a job and focus on the real world. Senior year is a balance of cherishing what you do have and trying to figure out how to move forward without the safety netting you’ve been used to your whole life. This time of finding yourself takes energy. It is better to prioritize ourselves over school work, especially for those of us who have worked our fingers to their bones. Obviously, this should always be a goal, but senior year offers a unique slack where your actions of self-care (or perhaps just laziness, which is not always a bad thing) do not adversely affect your future. You should be utilizing this opportunity to learn a better balance, learn coping mechanisms, learn how to cook (if you don’t know how to already, in which case you should get on that ASAP), learn to properly sort and do laundry without shrinking your favorite jeans, and most importantly learn to take care of yourself in a healthy manner. 

In my opinion, if you are a senior, your schedule should, once again, have a balance. It should consist of academically challenging classes (if that is your thing), but should also have more than a few study halls or easy classes. You should be communicating with your teachers if you need to take time off of school or need some form of an extension. Most teachers are understanding, so long as you give them ample notice. Ninety percent of the time, teachers will understand if you work on Tuesdays and Thursdays and have to leave early, or if you need an extension because you are spending the weekend trying to reset rather than push yourself into overdrive.

Take time to find hobbies, passions, or career paths that you could see yourself doing in the future. Our school offers you two mental health days a year. Though these are not nearly enough to accommodate how formidable a whole school year might be, use them strategically. Missing one day of classes will not be the end of the world, especially if that day can be spent catching up on work, or being with family members. Now, this idea of “enjoying” your senior year may be a luxury for some. As seniors, we are on the edge of joining the real world – and some of us already have. So, if you are one of the few of us who are already overworking ourselves from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm, try to do something beneficial for your mental health. If you are someone who does not know what it is like to work a laborious job, try it. According to Pamela Paul, an opinion writer for the New York Times, “the best extracurricular may be an after-school job”. Take advantage of the leniency of senior year to learn how to manage work ethic, mental health, and education. Take care of yourself, and properly prepare yourself for the next stages of life. 

That is how senior year should be spent: finding balance between your current and future interests, and directing your energy towards whatever will best benefit you – whether that be spending time with family and friends, finding a job, or just focusing on yourself.