To Making it Count: Senior Year

It’s the last ride. The last glorious parade through the land of freedom, spontaneity, and guilt-free irresponsibility. Whether in high school, college, or any other academic phase of your life, senior year can bring on a wave of emotions.

It’s exciting to map out the next phase of your career. More so, the continuation of your future. At the same time, it can be scary to leave behind the known and comfortable. It’s easy to become used to a steady schedule, a familiar setting, and familiar faces.

It can be hard to leave behind your closest friends, significant others, and faculty members who you’ve formed connections with. A common worry about leaving a familiar setting is the fear of not living it out to the fullest or not taking advantage of all the resources and experiences it offers.

Youth is a very idiosyncratic experience, as it’s different for each individual.

Recent times have thankfully adopted such views. This means there’s no reason to link one experience with any subset of age. It’s what you make of it. Whether youth embodies your time in high school or college, you should not fear losing out on experiences that are associated with being young. Those experiences can be encountered at any point in life.

So what can you do to make senior year memorable and satisfying?

Make a bucket list.

Write down all the things you’ve ever wanted to do on campus. Explore your school’s city. Go out to restaurants, art exhibits, community centers, or volunteer. Make the most of your remaining time by engaging with communities you might not have access to later down the line.

Bucket lists are great ways to faucet ideas as well as compartmentalize your thoughts and desires. It’s satisfying to know that you have set goals, and they are being achieved. Many high schools and campuses even have pre-made “to do lists” which provide an easy way to explore campus and encounter exciting things.

Take classes you’ll enjoy.

For the majority of high school or college, many semesters are mostly spent taking required courses for graduation or a given major. Senior year often marks the completion of these requirements and a greater amount of time for outside pursuits. Explore art classes, theatre, environmental sustainability, an English class you’ve always wanted to take, cooking, gardening, and all sorts of unique classes your school might offer.

Go outside your comfort zone, and challenge yourself to pursue something you’ve always wanted to learn about. It doesn’t necessarily have to contribute to your major. If your schedule or existing requirements don’t allow you to take as many different classes as you’d like, it’s never too late to join similar clubs, even as a senior!

Make an effort to go to campus events.

As annoying as the emails can be, many student activity groups send out notifications and information about on-campus events. For your last semester, try to go to as many barbecues and social gatherings as possible, especially if they’re for your graduating class.

It’s a great way to meet fellow class members, reminisce, enjoy good food, and build great memories as well.

Spend as much time with your friends as possible.

It’s probably the most worthwhile tip. Saying goodbye can be painful. Friends undoubtedly come to influence your time at school and college. It’s hard to let go of the good ones – the ones who woke you up at 6 a.m. to study with, who held your hair back and put you to bed, who you’ve taken road trips with just for the fun of it.

Letting go can be hard, especially when it seems everyone is splitting up and moving to new places. Take advantage of the fact that you’ll most likely never be as physically close to all your college and high school friends as you are right now. Utilize that – have girls’ nights in and girls’ nights out as often as your schedule allows it.

Go sledding in snowstorms, to the beach (if you’re lucky enough to be in that environment), and to restaurants together. Have wine nights (if age permits), go to the spa, grocery shopping, and make dance videos in your room with the curtains wide open. Absolutely anything you can think of. Because it all counts.

Those little moments that don’t seem like much can make the world later on when you miss them the most.

Put away some time for your self.

You’re going through changes, mentally and emotionally. It’s only right that you set aside some time each day or during the week to pause and reflect on what you want out of your life. Whether this is what you want for the remainder of your time at school, in the future, or just from your day, it’s crucial to tap into your emotions and embrace them.

Take time to reflect on your achievements, maybe your shortcomings, and make plans for the future. Embrace the knowledge that you gained from your four years, and put them to use. Don’t dwell on past mistakes, but look forward to new opportunities.

Senior year can be a bemusing and quite frankly, disheartening time. But don’t let your fear of letting go prevent you from embracing moving forward. Find what you love and what makes you happiest. Find new and exciting things to foster lifelong memories, and hold onto loved ones around you. Enjoy the time you have now instead of fearing its absence because after all, it’s only the beginning.

Also published on Medium.