Things You Should Know Before Your Senior Year

By Mary Overton

In my mind, it was just last week I sat in my freshman year tutorial class writing my “Senior Self” letter, surrounded by juniors and seniors laughing and joking about colleges and AP classes. Time flies, doesn’t it?

That was three and a half years ago. Now, I’m a second semester senior. In about 4 months, I will be in college. Every day I walk onto Tam’s campus, I know that it is the last year I will ever step on campus as a student on that day. Apparently, Senioritis is served with a side of nostalgia. Lately I’ve been wondering what I would tell the Freshman-year-me, so here is that advice for all of you. Here are the things I wish I knew by my senior year of high school:

  • Don’t try to be someone you’re not. I’m not saying “be yourself,” because that would be silly, as you don’t know who “yourself” is yet. However, you probably have a sense of who it is that you’re not. In high school, I tried to force things. If I have one regret, it’s that I tried to force myself to become someone who I simply am not. So if something doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it. That thing about “peer pressure” we were warned about in middle school? Yeah, it’s real, but not in the cheesy-’80s-drink-this-beer-or-you’ll-get-shoved-into-a-locker way. Peer pressure doesn’t seem like it’s coming from other people: it comes from yourself; subconsciously. Occasionally, it’s a good idea to look around at what you’re getting yourself into. Pay attention to your gut feeling. Don’t follow your dreams. Follow your intestines.
  • It’s okay to change. My freshman year, I thought I wanted to go to Princeton. In the end of last year, I went to visit Princeton and realized I would be miserable there. Who I am now is nothing like who I was in my sophomore, or even junior years. Yes, I have changed that much, and you will too. You will end up hanging out with people you NEVER thought you would, which is actually a very nice thing. I didn’t know my current best friends until the middle of last year. Trust me, it’s normal to change.
  • No matter how horrible an experience is, appreciate it. Trust me on this one: something good comes out of every living hell. Whether it’s a relationship, a friendship, a class, a test, or anything else you name, if it was horrible, something good will come out of it. Find the silver lining. Find the moral of the story- those aren’t just for fairytales and fables, myths or legends. Whatever the case, if you analyze a horrible situation, you will find some place where it went wrong, and you will find a lesson in that place. Memorize that lesson, move on, and don’t make the same mistake again.
  • Find your passion and follow through. It’s a hard one to try to do in high school, but you’ll stumble across it. For me, it was reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding in my sophomore year English class (shout out to Lavezzo). I didn’t know it would be the reason I’m choosing to be an English major with a minor in Philosophy, but there you have it. Your “thing” will pop up somewhere in high school. Just don’t give up too easily on something. Give everything you encounter a shot. It could have an extreme impact on your future. No pressure, though.
  • Listen. This one is so important, and I can’t stress it enough. Listen to people around you: it’s how you learn. Actively seek knowledge. Maximize your potential. The more you listen to other people, especially the people you disagree with, you develop a better understanding of the “other side.” That being said…
  • Adults are pretty cool (and it doesn’t hurt to listen to them). This includes your teachers and your parents. Here’s the thing: they’re people. They have pasts. They know so much about life. They have crazy stories and great advice. Listen to them. Get to know them. Get to know everything they do. My parents are some of the coolest people I know. And guess what? They’re actually cool!

Most importantly, don’t let high school slip away from you. It passes so quickly. Things change, time goes on, and next thing you know, you’re applying for college. There’s nothing you can do to stop it, either. Your senior year will sneak up on you, I promise. I heard this from my sister when she graduated when I was a freshman, and I didn’t believe her. Now that I’m in her shoes, I understand what she was saying, and you will too. So take a deep breath, and take it all in. You’ve got four years here. You will grow into someone even more amazing if you play your cards right. Love the process. Just own it, guys. Four years.