Ah, senior year.
It’s almost romantic, isn’t it?
It’s full of opportunities…last opportunities…to make memories with your high school friends.
If you’re lucky, the actual school part isn’t too terribly bad either.
And don’t forget, it’s the last time you’ll ever have to start a new semester of high school. I mean, hopefully.
Most importantly, though, it signifies that college is right around the corner.
How did that happen? Where did the time go?
I’m here to talk to you about some things I wish I knew the second semester of my senior year that would have made my transition to college a little smoother. Hopefully you’ll find some takeaways!
1. Change your attitude.
It sounds harsh, right?
My most vivid memory of senior year is just feeling so burdened and inconvenienced by anything and everything I had to do for school.
So, I pretty much checked out.
In English class, for instance, a friend of mine and I would literally sit in the back of the room scrolling through Tumblr (is that still a thing?) while the rest of the class was discussing the Beowulf reading.
I stopped going to clubs and organizations because they felt like an inconvenience.
I almost didn’t even go to prom.
What I wish I could tell myself is, “Change your attitude. I know you hate being here, but learning to make the most of a situation and bloom where you’re planted is going to be a very important life skill later on.”
In my mind, life had stopped and would resume once college started. I couldn’t see past my own attitude enough to see the opportunities for growth and self-improvements and deepened relationships all around me. I grew accustomed to believing that my life was all I could be.
Sometimes I wonder what that second semester could have been like had I changed my attitude.
2. Don’t be afraid
I know, the thought of college is sort of scary. In a few short months you’ll have to move out of your home you’ve been living in for so long and into this new, different home where you’ll be responsible for all the chores, meals, and bills.
Also, you’ll be living with a person–or multiple people–you maybe have never met before.
And what is the coursework going to be like? Harder? Easier?
What’s dating going to be like?
It’s all. So. New.
Looking back, these are all things that I never should have worried about because, you know what? College was so much better. Once you find your community, they can get you through the rest, whatever “the rest” might be.
All those things you’ll be responsible for? They go hand-in-hand with freedom like you’ve never experienced before, and it’s amazing. And you’ll learn to keep track of things like meals and bills. That comes with time.
Those people you’ll be living with? Well, as long as they aren’t serial killers, it won’t be so bad. Maybe it’ll be a little awkward at first, but you’ll find your rhythm and maybe even become friends.
That school work you’ll be doing? The cool thing is, after awhile your classes will become more relevant to your degree and you’ll get to practice doing the work you’re passionate about doing.
3. Dump him
You know who I’m talking about.
It’s that guy you’ve been dating for awhile but don’t have a future with.
For awhile you hoped you did, but–let’s be honest–you have way too many doubts, and the thought of marrying him scares you way too much for it to be right moving forward into college.
You aren’t sure if you want to stick with him in college, but for whatever reason you’re afraid of breaking up with him. Maybe you’re afraid of what he’ll do, or you’ve both invested too much time into the relationship, or he’ll be in the same city as you and it’ll be super awkward when you see him around…and plus, you do love him…
Oh man, I wish I could tell you guys the story of my first breakup. It’s a great story, and to be honest my ex probably deserves it, but I’ll keep that off the internet for now.
All I’ll say on the matter is that if you aren’t absolutely sure that you’re with the right person right now and you’ve been waiting for a sign that you are allowed to break up with him no matter how much time you’ve both sunk into the relationship, this is it.
I can tell you firsthand how much of a weight it will be off your shoulders, and it will free up both of you to find someone in college who is right.
That said, there are a surprising amount of couples from my high school who are either still together or married. Only you can really decide that for yourself.
I only bring up this point because I was looking for someone to give me permission to break up with my boyfriend. It sounds weird, I know, but I felt like I was in too far to turn back. Or something like that. Don’t buy into that lie.
4. Go to that retreat.
Lots of schools have freshman retreats that happen before school starts. Texas A&M has two: Impact Camp and Fish Camp. I chose to go to Impact.
Actually, I didn’t really end up staying in touch with anyone I met on the retreat, but it ended up being the thing that got me connected to my future church, roommates, and group of friends.
Please, please go if you have the time and funds. You might end up meeting your new best friend. You might not, of course, but you’ll still make a ton of connections and you’ll meet some people. Plus, whoever your counselor is will (hopefully) be super helpful to you throughout the year. That will all make the first day of school so much less terrifying.
5. Don’t expect to be BFFs with your freshman year roommate
My expectations were WAY too high on this one. I kept seeing all my Instagram friends taking pictures with their “new BFF” who was also their roomie, and…well, I just didn’t click with mine. We were both very, very quiet and shy at the time, and eventually we settled into a routine where we really didn’t talk at all.
And that was okay.
Don’t put too much pressure on your relationship with your roommate. I sincerely hope she ends up being your new best friend, I really do. But if that doesn’t end up being the case, DON’T WORRY. You’ll find people in other places soon, I promise.
6. If you don’t feel like you’re bothering your friend-crushes, you aren’t being pushy enough
What do I mean by friend-crush? No, it’s not your crush who friend-zoned you. It’s that person you want to be friends with, like, real bad.
Especially if you’re both freshmen, it’s not going to be annoying. All the freshmen are in one big desperate-for-friends boat together, and they probably have a friend crush on you too, to be honest. Ask them to go get coffee with you. Ask if they want to go to the game with you. Ask if they want to study together.
Don’t get weird about it, but definitely be pushy. I wasn’t really willing to do that as a freshman, and I don’t think I would have made any friends at all my freshman year if the people I met hadn’t followed this advice. Be this person. I love lots of these people.
7. Find. A. Church.
Or if you’re not a believer, find another form of community.
I was about to list out all the reasons why this is beneficial, but it’s literally beneficial in every single area of your life.
So, how do you know which church you should go to?
My advice is, try out a couple. Try to find one where you’re immediately welcomed and where you hear the Bible being accurately taught. Those are really the only two things you need. Beyond that, it’s personal preference.
This will help out so much, I’m telling you. It will provide you with an already-established community. It will feed your spirit and encourage your relationship with God. You’ll meet people, hopefully some who are in your same season of life.
This was a game-changer for me my first year of college. My life would have looked very different had I not jumped on this one.
8. Build your study habits
So, the last couple were actually more what I would tell my baby college self, but here’s another one I wish I would have known my senior year.
I mentioned earlier that I pretty much stopped caring about school entirely senior year. I was constantly joking that I’d “had senioritis since I was a freshman.”
I had some trouble believing that I was actually going to have to start studying in college. After all, I’d gotten pretty far in life without studying much at all.
Unfortunately, that didn’t prepare me very well for college.
It’s not that my classes freshman year were that hard. Actually, I ended up making a 4.0 because I made a frantic rush to build some study habits once I realized that the game had changed. Lucky I was also frequently around some very studious people.
I do wish, though, that I’d gone into it already a studying expert. That would have taken some stress off my shoulders, for sure.
If studying for school actually sounds like the worst thing in the world to you, try practicing study habits with topics you’re interested in. Study up on how to start a business, if that’s something you’re into. Or, study what’s happening in the world, if you want to be more in the know. Just please, make it easy on yourself and know how to study. 🙂
9. Build your friend-making skills
I coasted through high school without ever really trying to make deep friendships. That’s partially because of some events from my own story that made me too cautious, but it’s partially because I was just lazy and I never really tried to learn how to connect with people on a deeper level.
Practice making strong friendships now. Initiate.
Maybe this doesn’t make much sense–after all, everyone you know is about to part ways and go to different colleges.
That was the mindset I had, and it actually didn’t get me very far at all. I would have enjoyed senior year a lot more if I had made an effort to know more of the people around me.
Not only is it beneficial right now, it will also ensure that you have better people skills when college starts. This will help in making friends, building your network, and making connections with professors and classmates who you will probably see a lot more of in the future.
Your classmates want to know you, too. I didn’t realize that in high school. I let my low self-esteem convince me that I was not worth knowing, and that wasn’t true.
See number 6.
10. It’s time to tone down the boy-crazy
Oh, boy. This is the one I was worst at.
After me and my ex broke up, I pretty much started to see every single guy around me as a potential romantic partner.
Let me tell you firsthand, this is not a healthy mindset to have ever, but especially not your senior year of high school or freshman year of college. I’ve heard it said that th
is is when you should be trying to meet your future bridesmaids, not your future husband, and I agree with that completely.
I probably missed out on lots of friendships with guys because I was so intimidated by them…because I was caught up in the idea of dating them.
You probably will date and have relationships in college, but let that be priority #2. Let those guys catch your attention from inside your friend group, not from across the room. You’ll have a lot more fun and a lot less stress.
11. It’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life.
Our society puts this weird pressure on 18 year olds that they have to suddenly NOT ONLY stop acting like a kid and start acting like an adult, but ALSO know what they want to do career-wise for the next 50 years.
That’s a lot of pressure.
Let me help you out here: you don’t have to listen to that. Go in with “university studies” as your major, it’s okay. Be undeclared. Or try out the major that sounds most interesting to you. You may not like it, and that’s okay. Try something else.
I’ve been through 4 major changes, you guys. That’s a lot.
Also, I know some 25 year olds who don’t have any clue what they want to be when they grow up, so it is certainly not going to shock anyone if you don’t know as an 18 year old. Don’t worry about it. Explore lots of different passions.
If you’re into Jesus, check out this resource I made for the high schoolers in the youth group I work with. It’s titled “how to know what God wants you to do with your life,” and it’s a compilation of everything I’ve learned on the subject.
Lots of that document is based off of this sermon by Pete Briscoe. I HIGHLY recommend it.
You’re a high school senior! This is one of the most exciting times of your life!
Get pumped! College is amazing. It’s liberating and you’re finally getting to study what you’re interested in and you’re around such amazing people. It comes with its share of difficulty, but the good far outweighs the bad.
So have fun. Enjoy this time. You deserve it.
Until next time,