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Elise Gout

5 To-Do’s Before Graduation

Whether you’re rejoicing or mourning at the conclusion of the school year, the days we’ve got left are disappearing fast. It’s a weird kind of time for seniors, one in which nobody really knows how to feel. Nostalgic about our fleeting youth? Excited for the transition into “adulthood”? There’s definitely some fear and anxiety that needs be accounted for too… All of these emotions are merging, tangling, settling into those pits in our stomachs. But before that final graduation walk comes, there are a handful of must-do things while still in high school.

 1. Actually show up


Don’t deny it, if you’re a senior and you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve skipped some (or a whole lot) of your class periods. (It’s totally inconspicuous to have four “dentist appointments” in two weeks.) Trust me, I get it: AP’s are done. You’re into college. Why bother going through the motions, right? Wrong. This is where I get to insert that good old, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” saying. Do not underappreciate the familiarity of your high school – the campus, the people, the daily walking path that you’ve established for yourself between bells. There is nothing worse than breezing through the final stretch and wishing you hadn’t. Senior year should be savored; there are so many little interactions – jokes tossed around by teachers, head nods given in the hallways, that you’ll never get to relive in quite the same way.

2. Break from the routine

It’s almost impossible not to have a steady pattern at school. Go from point A to point B, do homework here at this time, eat lunch in that spot … And that’s all well and good, but with the weeks dwindling down, the end of senior year is just the right time to try something a little different. Explore your own campus a bit more. Make use of the resources that you haven’t before. (I checked out my first high school library book just last week. I’m quite pleased with myself). If you never go to sports games – go to one, at least once. Revel in the experience of cheering your heart out. Or see the last school theatre production. Maybe a band concert. Most seniors get more time in their schedules when graduation nears, and I’d highly recommend optimizing that with as many new experiences as possible.

3. Don’t just “HAGS”


It might have worked for sophomore year (and maybe even junior year), but writing “Have a great summer!” in someone’s yearbook is the equivalent of saying, “Hey, you’re a decent human being that I have hardly interacted with; allow me to be polite and sign your yearbook.” It’s senior year guys – it’s your last yearbook ever – so don’t waste the space by being lame. Your peers deserve to know how much they have meant to you along the journey, and by being sentimental you’ll get more sincere notes of your own.

4. Collect contacts

I hate to break the news, but most of the people in your senior class are going to fade into the background once college starts. It just happens. But you know what can prevent it from happening (at least marginally)? Exchanging info. I’m talking cell phone numbers, emails, Skype names, Snapchats – heck, share you’re MySpace if you want to (is that still a thing?). The more ways you have to reach out to each other, the better the odds are that you actually will. Believe it or not, high school connections can come in handy down the line if you’re looking for internship help, traveling to different cities, needing a place to crash, etc. But they’re also just a great way to keep a part of home with you as you go planting new roots elsewhere.

5. Handwrite thank you letters


I’d say this is probably the most important thing for every senior to do. We’re all headed exceptional places, but quite frankly we wouldn’t be without the support of some very key people: our teachers. The good ones, in particular. The ones that like to check in with us, help expand our perceptions of the world. Teachers are such a fundamental influence in our growth as free-thinking individuals, and the least you (and I) can do is share a fraction of our gratitude. Hand written letters are as personal as they are thoughtful (anyone can send a quick email), and I’ll bet you anything that teachers aren’t nearly as used to getting them as they should be. So take a week where you write a letter a night – I guarantee that you’ll be directly responsible for bettering someone’s day.


About Elise Gout

Elise writes articles for the Magoosh SAT blog to help teenagers during an exciting time in their lives. Despite residing in Southern California, where she attends San Dieguito Academy high school, she has no surfing abilities whatsoever; it’s actually rather sad. She is your typical senior high school girl who sword fights daily, and is pretty much convinced that bananas are a food sent from heaven. Elise will attend Columbia University next fall to study environmental science.

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