Senior Year Bucket List

A writer, hopeless romantic, and lover of all foods, Kimberlie is a seventeen year old living in Arizona. Her mind consists of a million chambers always pondering the what’s and why’s of life, and she considers herself anything but simple. She loves having long conversations with friends over the goodness that is a cup of chai tea latte.

 

high school, bucket list, senior yearFor three and a half years, my life consisted of a montage of Starbucks cups, 3 AM philosophical conversations at the kitchen table, aimless driving, stress-monster lash-outs, and comfort foods from across the globe.

It’s the end of a neurotic, dysfunctional era overflowing with memories that instigate the cocking-of-the-head smile, the embarrassing-laugh-till-your-sides ache, the shaking-of-the-head brow furrow, and everything else in between.

It’s the end of senior year.

As I begin my last semester of high school, I am so eager to grow up, to pursue life beyond the borders of the familiar.

Who will I meet?

Where will I go?

Who will I become?

However, before I let the ember of high school burn out, there’s still so much I must do…to create a final memoir that will forever remind me of my roots, my youth. Before I prepare to say my goodbyes and good riddance’s, I have one final task to complete:

Senior Year Bucket List

My list has gotten pretty extensive—from participating in a flash mob, making time capsules, to attending a heavy metal concert.

I challenge you, the reader, to make your own.

Consider…

  • New foods
  • Night hiking
  • Road trips
  • Karaoke nights
  • Hairstyle changes

 

It’s not about needing liquid courage to do the act, it’s not about forever living in infamy, but it’s about satisfying the realization that we’ll never get any of these days back—that the people who surround you will only be here for a little while longer, and the setting you’re life has established itself in will soon drastically change. Nothing can mimic these days. The mountain overlooking the lake needs to be climbed. The girl you love needs to know. The roads that encircle you need to be driven on.

 

Parents, encourage your teen to relish these moments. Please stop constantly pestering us about scholarships, applications, and summer internships. Realize that we will only be living together for a few more months. And the minute we step out, most of us will never be back for good. Bucket lists can be made for father and son, or mother and daughter. Senior year comes with so many tasks that need to be attended to: applying for financial aid, sending out graduation invites, etc. However, instead of focusing on the future, we should be focusing on the now.

 

High school will soon come to a mighty end. To say seniors across the country are buzzing with anxiety and excitement is an understatement.

 

“Second Semester: We’re Almost Done!”

Matt is a 17-year-old from New York City, NY. He loves to be social and spend time with his friends, as well as being an active leader in his community. However, school also plays an important role in his life and he is motivated to achieve his dreams.

 

I’m writing this while I am on the train home. Normally, I would have a straight indifferent face on—not too happy or too sad—just somewhere in the middle. But today is different. Today was an ending and a beginning all wrapped in one school day. Today was the last day of first semester senior year. The next full day of school, I will walk down the hallways with a stride in my step, a beaming smile on my face and a calm mindset. I will walk the hallways like a second semester senior should.

 

The last semester of high school is something that every student looks forward too. In fact, I remember on the first day of freshmen year I said, “I can’t wait to be a second semester senior!” Well, that day has come. I’m beyond excited—don’t get me wrong. However, as the first day of second semester approaches by the second, I am beginning to realize that there are three different types of seniors. Each spends the second semester of senior year differently. As always, with each type, there are pros and cons that follow. However, there are also different types of parental advice to give to each of the different types of seniors. At the far ends of the spectrum, there are the slackers and workers. Somewhere in the middle lays the “middle-class” type of senior.

 

1. “Slacker Senior”- When the majority of freshmen think of a second semester senior, they tend to think about the stereotypical do-nothing, come late to class, slacker senior.  I thought that way too. These seniors completely shut down. Class and homework are things of the past. I’m not going to lie to you; most of my friends are planning on shutting down. Once midyears are over, they see no point in cramming for exams, working extensively on projects, and participating all day.

 

2. “Worker Senior”- The workers are the exact opposite. These students are the seniors who most likely took a very demanding senior year schedule with multiple AP classes and honors classes. Even though midyears may be over, they will continue to work their butts off to maintain their 95 overall GPA. These students will continue to ace tests, experience all-nighters and will still be sleep deprived.

 

3. “Middle Class Senior”- The “middle-class” students try to find a happy medium between the extremes. These students will tend to continue to advance in certain classes, but definitely not all of them. For example, a science-kid will continue to care about his AP Biology class, and completely disregard his English class. The balance is very hard to find for many students. Most who say that they will maintain a balance eventually pick a side of the second semester year spectrum. The “middle-class” students tend to have their minds both on “the now” and “the tomorrow.”

 

Me? I’m somewhere in the middle between a worker and a “middle-class” student. However, I will admit that I have some slacker tendencies as well!

 

Now, with second semester senior year comes great expectations. There’s prom, graduation and a whole slew of senior spirit days. It’s easy to get lost in all the excitement, even when you’re a worker-senior. So remember, enjoy the events, but stay focused on the main goal: COLLEGE!

 

Parents, this next section is for you. I have a plethora of advice tips for you!

 

  • Make sure your child does not fail! This is a lot harder than it may sound. Some students, as I explained above, will completely blow-off school after midterms…or maybe even before. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH! Colleges ask for grades past the end of junior year! Senior year grades DO COUNT TOWARDS ADMISSION!
  • Prepare your child for college! This is what my dad is doing with me and it’s really helping out! Here are some things I do:
    • I do my own laundry (washing and drying)
    • I shop for my own groceries
    • I wake up by myself (if I’m late to school, it’s my fault–not my dad’s fault)
    • I clean my own room
  • I make my own money (this is an “iffy” though because in college, parents tend to still pay for most things). However, there is always a need for some extra money on campus.

 

I really hope this post helps everyone. To the students, stay focused! To the parents, stay calm!

 

I am officially counting down the days until graduation. June 22nd, 2012, here I come!!!!!

 

Photo Credit: Earls37a via Flickr

Senior Year: The End of the In-Crowd

popular kids, high school, cliques, nerds, social status, Sam is a seventeen-year-old from Montgomery, NJ. When she isn’t obsessing over the New Jersey Devils, Sam is doing charity work, reading magazines, and hanging with friends. She also wishes to make an imprint on the world in the future.

 

For the past three years (or if you’re like me, even longer), there have been a group of guys and girls that people seem to fixate on. They come in all the different flavors: athletic, ditzy, well-dressed, attractive, whatever. You may know these students as the popular kids, or the “in-crowd.”

Parents might ask, what does being part of an “in-crowd” mean? The “in-crowd,” as you would expect, rules your school. Their opinions appear to be the only ones that matter. They win class offices, regardless of how capable they are of maintaining them. If a nerd and a popular person both held parties on the same night, guess whose shindig would be the hit?

Yet, come senior year, these students will matter much less than you would expect. How is it possible that a seemingly unshakeable hierarchy, ranging from the in-crowd to the “losers,” ever be broken? You may feel like those who have always succeeded before will end up succeeding again during their senior year, and that it isn’t right. However, you aren’t alone. Chances are, other students feel the exact same way you do about the in-crowd. Senior year, it seems, is the perfect time to express discontent.

There are many ways that the in-crowd disappears during senior year. First, and the most lasting, is success. The first half of senior year revolves around college, from the application process, to decisions, to finally announcing where you are going to school. It is likely that while you have put a large amount of effort into your academics, tests and extracurriculars, these popular students have not. As a result, many of these students end up going to colleges with less-than-stellar reputations. A common trend I’ve noticed at my school is that, when decisions are announced, more people seem to swoon over the “nerds” who get into the top universities. This being said, the major success of others is one of the main reasons being part of the “in-crowd” appears to not matter.

Second, and more blatantly, is being assertive and active. Think of Mean Girls. Though I don’t recommend feeding Kalteen bars or cutting holes in tee shirts, it is possible to diminish the “in-crowd”’s power without acting maliciously. For example, my school holds a powderpuff football game, where junior and senior girls play flag football. After the popular girls controlled tee shirt designs, practice time and the rosters during junior year, my grade felt it necessary to put the more capable class officers in charge for our senior year. When a well-known cheerleader attempted to control the tee shirt design, the officers stepped in, reiterated that they were in charge, and simply chose who they felt had a better design. No humiliation occurred, the officers’ point got across, and the cheerleader complied without complaint.

Third, and most subtle, is simply ignoring the popular students. A general perception could be that, since you are not likely going to college with those students, you might as well adjust to life without them being a complete preoccupation or strain. Furthermore, these students, especially the girls, thrive on being noticed and receiving attention. Take away that attention, and their actions will be all for naught, and eventually stop.

So, as senior year continues, don’t get discouraged about the popular girls and boys. Know that everyone is just concerned and upset as you are. If people are willing to make a change, whether it is getting into Stanford or standing up for the little guy, those seemingly untouchable kids in “in-crowd” will be nothing more than just average people.

 

Photo courtesy of prc1333 from Flickr

Racing to the finish line

Tyler is a 17-year-old from Denver, CO. She enjoys reading and traveling, one day she would like to pursue a career in Business Management.

When you look at the typical senior, you probably see a student with rigorous classes, a part-time job, a social life, and a stack of college applications. Then, that senior gets accepted to college, and begins to daydream about prom and graduation. As a result, the senior begins to slack off on homework, begins to miss classes, and stops caring about anything school related because the end is so near. This is called senioritis.

Senioritis is very easy to get and is very difficult to combat. If you believe that senior year in the K-12 education has many flaws, that senioritis is inevitable, and that school administrators should assign seniors something more valuable to do with their time, I would full heartedly agree with you. Unfortunately, no one has found a cure yet and seniors are forced to trek to school every day in a mental state of exhaustion with few incentives.

When you’re a senior, it is hard to dig down and find that last bit of energy to stay up until two to study for that test. You know your admission to college will not get rescinded because you got a B instead of an A on your nervous system test. You stroll leisurely to class not caring that the bell has already rung. You know your teacher is not going to give you a detention two weeks before graduation.

Even if you think you will never be plagued with this disease, you could be. Before I was a senior, I never understood it. I wondered why the seniors couldn’t just get over it and finish strong. I was always a good student, so I wasn’t worried about my grades dropping. I always worked hard, so I didn’t think I would have any trouble patiently waiting until the last day of school.

The beginning of my senior year was pretty manageable. I was keeping my grades up, was pouring my heart out into my extracurricular activities, and always showed my school pride.

Then in early March, I got a likely letter from one of my top choice colleges. Within a week, I literally felt like I was possessed and another person had taken control of my body. All of the sudden I couldn’t focus on my homework, started asking my parents to excuse me from class multiple times a week, and could not care less about any of my extracurricular activities. Every day seemed to stretch out like eternity and I just could not see the point of anything when the end was so close. I felt like I was completely drained of energy. As much as I wanted to finish strong, there was nothing left in me.

Luckily, I realized that I wanted my last semester grades to prove how hard I had worked, and I began thinking about the recognition I wanted to receive at graduation. As a result, I went back to working hard and finished out the school year strong.

Senioritis really is something that is inevitable. Until someone finds a cure, here are a few tips for getting through it:

Remember you are still in high school: When you are buried underneath college applications, acceptance letters start to roll in, and you begin making college visits, it is very easy to begin to think you are practically already in college. But you are not in college yet. You have four years to enjoy college, make your last days of high school days to remember.

Do not let your grades drop: If your grades drop significantly, there are two things that can happen. You could end up not getting your diploma or you could get an offer from college rescinded. It doesn’t happen very often, but it still does occasionally. The effects are devastating, so make sure your grades do not slip.

Think about graduation: You have been working four years for this. The euphoria that comes along with graduation is ten times greater if you finish strong. If you slacked off during senior year, you may feel apathetic towards graduation too. Make sure you are finishing strong so that graduation can be everything you were hoping for.

Enjoy the senior year experience: Do not let yourself obsess over college and other responsibilities. Make sure you maintain a balance between work and fun. Remember the exciting things like prom, senior activities, and graduation. This makes it easier to stay motivated during those last six months of school.

Making the Summer Before Your Senior Year Shine

Neyat is an Eritrean-American girl who is an aspiring writer. She enjoys reading teen fiction, looking up obscure music artists and celebrities on Wikipedia, and traveling. She hopes that one day when you teens are tired and middle-aged, you will walk into your local bookstore (to get away from your spouse and kids) and you will notice a book on the front display with her name on it as the bestselling author.

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Most teens have heard much hype about that summer before their senior year of high school. This is that golden summer where teens are meant to shine and impress prospective colleges and universities. However, I’m sure you teens and parents of teens out there are wondering what this super summer consists of. What is going to make you stand out? What will keep you busy? How will you gain much needed real world experience? Here are all of the answers to these questions and more, fashioned in list form (this list is in no particular order). This list provides ideas and suggestions on how teens should effectively spend their summer between junior and senior year.

  1. 1. Obtain a job

Sure we may be in a recession, but there are jobs out there. There are places such as retail stores and food chains that hire teens for the summer. Teens must realize that when applying for a job, they’re running against experienced and unemployed adults, so it is necessary to have an impressive resume and cover letter with great recommendation letters to boot.  Also note that while applying online can sometimes be effective (snagajob.com is a great site), it is best to go out and apply in person.

  1. 2. Volunteer in your community

A great way to give back to your community and earn service hours is to do volunteer work. Sure, many might not find it appealing to work for free, but most community service projects are fun and usually involve free food, a free t-shirt or company merchandise, and best of all, that priceless feeling of having helped a great cause. If you’re ready to take the initiative to volunteer in your community, log on to volunteermatch.org for an opportunity in your area! Be sure to keep a log of your hours and reference letters from your community service leader for college or job applications.

  1. 3. Find an internship opportunity

What are you interested in? Writing? The medical field? Acting? Do your research and find companies or small businesses in your area that are hiring student interns. Paid or unpaid, internships are a great way to dip into the waters of the real world. Internships provide you with the work skills necessary for the field you are interested in and they teach life skills in general. They also look impressive on job and college applications because they show that you’ve had experience.

  1. 4. Study Abroad

There are plenty of opportunities for teens to study or volunteer out of the country. Students can take classes abroad for credit, or just for fun. This is a great way to make friends from all over the world and discover the wonders of a new country. If ready to embark on a faraway journey, make sure to do extensive research on the different sites to make sure the company of your choice is trusted and secure. You don’t want to end up in Siberia and find out the whole thing was a scam.

  1. 5. Take a Class

A great thing to do which is a much better alternative to being a couch potato and  watching twelve hours of television all day, is to take a class. Taking a class for credit at your local community college is a wonderful way to get a preview of the college experience and to keep your brain stimulated when you’re out of school. Also, if your community college doesn’t offer class spots to high school students, then take a dance or pottery class. Try taking up a hobby that takes you out of your comfort zone. The summer is full of idle time, so why not gain some new skills or talent?

There you have it. Five ways to spend your senior summer productively.  Now get out there and make your summer glisten and shine. Make this break worth your while; it sure beats camping out in front of the television or sleeping in until noon!