TEEN

15 Graduates Share Their Secrets For Surviving Senior Year Of High School

07/25/2014 03:27 pm ET | Updated Aug 06, 2014
Bizzy Emerson

After several HuffPost Teen bloggers and other recent grads from the class of 2014 thought about their senior years, they sat behind their computers and pounded out answers to one question: “What advice would you give to rising seniors in high school?” Here are their answers -- along with the best way to get in touch with them if you want to ask them any questions.

1. It's not as scary as it all seems.

“Nothing is as intimidating as you think it is. Whether it's a college application, job, or anything else that’s related, just know that nerves are normal and that everything will end up OK.”

What she’s doing now: Planning to enroll in a Texas university

How to reach her: @MadonnaMomo

2. Don't be afraid of goodbyes.

“Don't be afraid of getting attached to friends you might be leaving behind after graduation. Don't be afraid of those goodbyes. When I started my senior
year, I questioned why I would want to continue building relationships when I knew I'd eventually have to tear them down. But in the midst of the
overwhelming stress of deciding what to do with my future, my good friends were the ones who were there for me when I felt I was cracking under the
pressure. Senior year is a time to make big decisions, and you're going to need people who know the real you to help you through the process. Even if you
decide to move nearly 600 miles away from home, like I am, realize that a goodbye doesn't mean forever if you're saying it to someone you care about. So
don't go into senior year thinking you need to slowly start cutting ties with people. Honestly, you'll need your friends just as much as they'll need you.”

hannah strohmeier

What she’s doing now: Freshman at George Washington University

How to reach her: @hanstroh

3. Push yourself outside your comfort zone.

“Senior year may be the ‘end’ per se, but it can in fact be a chance for new beginnings. Don’t hesitate to try something new (even if it’s for fun rather
than for college apps), and especially don’t hesitate to get to know your classmates. For me, I went on a Kairos retreat with my school that allowed me to
form bonds with a lot of people I had never even talked to in high school, which made the rest of my senior year even more enjoyable. Take chances like
this, whether it’s going on a retreat or simply stepping out of your comfort zone. It’ll be worth it when you’re walking across the stage at graduation
knowing you’re leaving no regrets behind you.”

annie schugart

What she’s doing now: Freshman at Harvard University

How to reach her: @AnnieSchugart

4. You are more than just a number.

“Contrary to popular belief, admissions officers are there to help you rather than to induce a premature midlife crisis. A rejection from a school -- even if it is your top choice -- doesn’t necessarily mean that you weren’t qualified to attend that school. It may mean that you and the school were not ‘matches’; i.e. that your interests could not be exercised to their full potential at that school. Flexibility is a key to a successful year... Be true to yourself, and remember that applications are more than just numbers and fees. Find your inner free spirit and let it soar.”

neel swamy

What he’s doing now: Freshman pharmacy student at the University of Michigan

How to reach him: @neel_swamy

5. Trust your gut.

“When I first started the college process, I was so certain that I would be going and applying to specific colleges. Throughout the process, be open to change. What you think is your first choice when you start the college application process, may not necessarily be your first choice by the time you make a selection. For me, visiting the schools I applied to made it clear which ones were for me and which ones were not. If you’ve read my graduation speech, you’ll know that my next tip is something I hold close to my heart: there will be several people who have plans for you and your college experience. If you feel that you’re thinking differently than other people, respect that. It’s important to listen to others, but ultimately, you’ll have to live with your choice. So do your
homework, trust your instincts and have a blast!”

lani renaldo

What she’s doing now: Freshman at the University of Southern California

How to reach her: @g0ldyl0kz

6. It's OK to cry.

“Cry. Cry all the time, as much as you want. I’m serious! It’s the best stress reliever I can prescribe. The combination of AP classes, college
applications, essays, and whatever else was going on left me with so much pent-up anxiety. If I felt a little sad or stressed, I turned up the Bon Iver and
just let it happen. If you start getting weepy at even the smallest things, the best thing to do is just ride the wave. I cried my eyes out while watching
"Django Unchained," and I felt like a rockstar afterwards. Carrying around all of your baggage will take its toll, so don’t be afraid to get emotional.”

-- Bizzy Emerson

bizzy emerson

What she’s doing now: Freshman at New York University

How to reach her: @bizzyems

7. Do something a little crazy.

“Do something new. In the monotony of your senior year, you’ll inevitably get really bored and really sick of yourself. You’re going to write what will
seem like hundreds of reflective essays, and you’ll be filling up the Common App with everything you’ve ever done. You’ll probably eventually feel like a
living, breathing resume. Going a little crazy will help to shake that feeling. Dye your hair a color you never thought you’d try. Go to a concert you
never thought you’d attend. Do something you never thought you’d do. As for me? I started blogging for HuffPost Teen, among other things, and whenever I
needed a break from my senior year, I turned here. After realizing how awesome it was, I totally wrote HPT all over my college applications (and I have no
regrets); however, you are allowed to pursue something with a purpose other than to gain you admission to your dream school. You’re more than an
application -- do not forget that.”

jackson barnett

What he’s doing now: Freshman at Wesleyan University

How to reach him: @jacksonbarnett

8. Sometimes, you need to take a detour.

“Get denied from some schools. OK, maybe don’t go into the application process with that as your number one goal, but don’t let the fear of being denied
from a college that may be somewhat of a reach stop you from applying. If you do get rejected, know that it doesn’t mean that you weren’t good enough.
Eventually, you will look back and realize that getting into the most competitive college, or even your dream school, is not what will make or break the
rest of your life. Another thing -- just because you are graduating from high school does not mean that you have to go to college. I am, but I am taking a
year off first. There are so many opportunities for young people to travel or to work. I spent my junior year of high school studying abroad with Rotary
Youth Exchange in Turkey; I had plenty of exchange student friends that were taking gap years and learning more about themselves than they would have in
their first year of college. Programs like NSLI-Y and YES give high school students scholarships to study abroad for no cost.”

What she’s doing now: Attending The New School after a gap year

9. Make time for others -- and for enjoying the little moments.

“Last August I wrote a guide to my senior-self in the form of a blog titled “
17 Things I Want Myself to Remember Senior Year
." Reading through it now, I’m pretty proud of how relevant my advice turned out to be. Admittedly however, I failed at many of my goals -- way too many cups
of coffee, way too little sleep, and sadly, too many tears. My best advice to you now, after having gone through senior year, is to try and enjoy your last
moments in high school. Go out of your way to help underclassmen and lift them up to be the next leaders of your school; contribute more to conversations
in class; talk to someone new at lunch; support your friends at their sports games; celebrate other people's’ successes. The college application season is
so individualistic and competitive that you’ll find it refreshing to turn your focus onto others instead.”

katy ma

What she’s doing now: Attending Wellesley College studying Political Science and Economics

How to reach her: @mamasgotchu

10. Make it count.

“You’ll probably find that as soon as the school year starts, you’ll start feeling the symptoms of senioritis. My vital advice to you is to try your
hardest to beat it, and make your last year count. When you really think about it, this is your last year before you’re endowed with adult
responsibilities, so make the most of it; audition for a play, talk to that cute boy who sat behind you in science class or make a goal to win a specific
award at Commencement. If you don’t, you might regret it next June.”

What she’s doing now: Attending York University for film production

How to reach her: youtube.com/HeyItsEwin / @fun6001

11. Do things for you.

“As soon as your senior year starts, engage in a mission to find yourself. This may sound crazy, but it really helped me have a great year. Whether it’s
the creative arts or sports, do something that makes you feel like yourself. Invest your energy and emotion into an activity where you don’t feel the need
to prove a point to someone. Let every decision you make -- whether it’s something big, like “what college will I attend in the fall?” to something as
simple as “should I go out to this party tonight?” -- be for your own benefit and no one else’s. So many people leave high school barely knowing
themselves. I’ve seen people get caught in a cycle of doing things to please their parents and even their friends without factoring how those decisions
will affect them. Avoid doing that at all costs, and live for yourself.”

What he’s doing now: Freshman at Hobart and William Smith Colleges

How to reach him: @RotimiA_

12. Where you go to college doesn't matter as much as you think.

“Many people told me not to stress about college admissions, and I did. I'm sure many people have told you the same, and, chances are, you will. It'll be
over soon. Apply to enough safeties (schools you know you can afford; getting in is only half), put time into your supplements, and things will work out.
Look for schools that give merit aid. Also, honestly, where you go to college does not matter as much as you think it does. Personal qualities will take
you further. Here’s a secret of the college admissions process: it's 90 percent bragging rights.

Another thing -- senioritis isn't so much laziness but the realization that almost everything you're doing is pointless busywork. Power through and keep your grades up first semester. Just try to focus on the things you like -- spend time with your friends, explore your interests and stop caring so much what people think. Relax a little. One more AP won't make your college decision, so give yourself the free period. You've earned it.”

What she’s doing now: Freshman at Amherst College

How to reach her: @RaiseTheRuoff

13. Stop comparing yourself to others (really).

“I’m going to give three pieces of advice because I talk a lot: learn something new, don’t compare yourself and have a back-up. During my senior year, I
switched from AP French to Intensive Italian (with the journey described in painstaking detail here) and took up dance instead of just
‘participating’ in gym again. Both switches helped prevent senioritis because I was one of the few seniors amongst a majority of underclassmen, which meant
the teachers still expected a good work ethic. Next, class rank is whack: it cannot help to predict what school you get into (at least in my case). A few
students in my grade that I outranked got into one of my top choices while I was flat out denied. I still don’t understand, and I probably never will.
Also, the percent accepted is not something to go by. I was denied from a few schools that are less selective than the school I will be attending in
September.

In the end, you will realize the process you just went through makes no sense; but you'll end up exactly where you need to be, so don’t worry.
Here’s my last bit: I toured 22schools, applied to 10 (eight of which I had visited), and got accepted to three (a fourth later accepted me off
its wait list and I’m still waiting for another waitlist answer). You might only like a certain type of school and might only want to apply to schools
similar, but you need a couple of schools that are less selective to apply to so you know you will be attending college in the fall. If you can, apply
instant or rolling admission so you’ll know right away. Many high schools, including my former one, have events like that. And, lastly, my parting advice
-- this is likely the last year you will be living full time in your hometown, so enjoy your hometown and all its eccentricities while you can.”

lauren cooke

What she’s doing now: Attending Bard College with intentions to major in Film

How to reach her: @laurensofar /Instagram / Tumblr

14. Spend a night away at college.

“Over spring break, I stayed at Northeastern with my friend. It was the most exciting, nerve-wracking, heart-stopping experience I’ve had thus far in my
short 18 years. I got the opportunity to stay at a dorm (not as much fun as you think it would be, by the way!), eat food prepared at various dining
halls, and travel around Boston -- without the parental units around. If anyone has the chance to stay with a friend or family member at their college or
university, take it. It will open your eyes to the world beyond you. And it will most likely leave a dent on your life.”

What she’s doing now: Freshman at the University of Northern Colorado

How to reach her: @AmyYoelin

15. Become your goal.

Make sure that you have goals that actually mean something to you, and then live them. Get into that college, become a tiger trainer, get your pilot certification. You are the goal and the goal is you. Become one with it. Never stop trying to reach it, and be on the lookout for new opportunities to fulfill them around every corner. If you're going to do it, do it 500 percent. It's going to be hard work, and you might not always enjoy it, but if it's your goal (this is very important, that it's your goal), it will be so worth it in the end."

justina sharp

What she's doing now: She can now be found taking obscure community college courses and slowly turning into Abed Nadir.

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