03/28/2013 01:10 pm ET Updated May 28, 2013


This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of four students as they apply for college in their senior year.

Being a second-semester senior has definitely lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. Although my workload has not exactly decreased, I'm not feeling as much pressure as I have over the previous three and a half years of high school. The competitiveness has lessened a little bit, I'm getting at least five hours of sleep a night now, and I -- as well as everyone else in my class -- am looking forward to late May. We're shifting our focus to applying for scholarships, passing our AP tests, and graduating from high school and moving on to whatever institutions we decide to attend. Nevertheless, with April and decision letters so close, the stress is still there, but it's a different type -- anticipative stress.

Thankfully, I have already been accepted to three schools: University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and UCLA! Although UC San Diego, in particular, is not at the top of my list, I was definitely excited when I got a call from the admissions officer congratulating me on my early acceptance and for being one of their top applicants out of over 76,000! Hopefully, I will have the same (excited!) reaction when I hear from some of my most desired schools, including Duke and UPenn.

As I continue to search and apply for scholarships, I am reminded of the incredibly high cost of all the schools I applied to. Most of them are more than $40,000 a year, and that's not even including books and food. Hopefully my financial aid will cover most of it, but there are still many other miscellaneous expenses. That's why applying for several scholarships, regardless of the amount, is important, and I'm making myself submit at least one application per week. An award for even $1,000, like the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles scholarship I already received, can cover the cost of books or part of a meal plan.

Recently, for my Minds Matter chapter, we had our annual gala where we were able to speak with donors and supporters of the organization. Some of us in the 2013 graduating class (Minds Matter L.A.'s first) had a chance to talk about our experiences and how the program has impacted our lives. We all wanted to express our genuine gratitude to everyone who has contributed to our growth, whether it was through donations or direct support. For me, choosing to apply for and participate in Minds Matter has been one of the best and most rewarding decisions I have made so far. Through the program, I have gained access to resources -- SAT prep, mentors, and the opportunity to go to summer programs at prestigious universities -- I wouldn't have had otherwise. Minds Matter has really contributed to my personal and intellectual growth. The summer programs I attended at Brown and Yale were academically challenging and provided me with a greater sense of independence, responsibility, and social awareness. Such experiences are extremely special and valuable to my fellow Minds Matter students and me because not many kids from our community have the same opportunities.

After the gala and spending time with my friends, it's really starting to dawn on me that high school is almost over. I have only two months left! I have been looking forward to this year since I was a freshman: participating in senior activities, not having to take the California Standardized Tests that I have been taking since second grade, going to prom and all the other benefits that come with senior year. I finally have time to fully enjoy high school life -- but instead of making me sad or afraid to leave, it's just making me even more excited for all of the experiences that are in my future. For now, though, I'll soak in every moment of these last few weeks while I can.