There are so many things to juggle when it comes to senior year of high school–especially when you’re applying for college.
So this week we’re talking about high school senior year advice!
For a month-by-month breakdown of everything college-bound seniors need to know, check out our free ten minute video: “High School Senior Year Survival Guide!”
Watch the embedded video below, or scroll down for a full video transcript. 🙂
What Will I See in the “High School Senior Year Survival Guide!” Video?
In this 10-minute video, our ACT expert Kat will give you a short introduction, followed by a month-by-month guide to acing your senior year of high school.
Here’s a short overview:
August: Study for the ACT/SAT!
September: More ACT/SAT studying!
October: Ask for letters of recommendation!
November: Write essays!
December: Submit your applications!
January: Do your FAFSA!
February: Apply for scholarships!
March: Visit campuses!
April: Choose a college!
May: Keep your grades up!
June: Participate in your senior year activities–it’s your last chance!
If you enjoyed this video, hit that Like button, subscribe, or better yet, send it to a friend! All of us can go to college 🎓🙌
“High School Senior Year Survival Guide!” Full Transcript
Hey, everybody, this is Kat at Magoosh.
And today, we’re going to talk to you about all the major things you should be keeping track of as you go into your senior year.
Okay, and I’m gonna give you one tip.
One thing to focus on, for every month starting with July right before your senior year and going through June.
By the way, how many of you are seniors right now?
Finishing up high school in the last process.
If you want, go ahead and leave a comment.
[SOUND] Or if you’re going into your senior year, what are you most concerned about?
What are you thinking about as you go into the whole college application process?
So we always love to hear from you, leave us a comment.
And let’s start with July.
So July before your senior year, this is a really good time to not totally tune out school.
I know it’s tempting, but this is when you can do some kind of like low key fun research.
So researching schools, like get the dream alive.
And while you’re doing that, definitely look into scholarships.
I know it’s overwhelming sometimes to try and find them, but July is a really good time to start looking for scholarships.
Because scholarships are due all through out the year, there isn’t like one month where they’re all due.
Every month their gonna be scholarships due, okay?
So July, look at scholarships.
Now, August is a really good time to study for the SAT, ACT.
And of course, here at Magoosh, we have a lot of resources to help you with that.
And I think that if you start in August, you’ll be in a really good position to take the ACT or SAT in like mid to late October.
So that’s a really nice time frame.
And if you have already taken it, I know there are a lot of you that took a junior year and not gonna take it again.
Then, I could say go ahead and get started on your applications, there’s really no disadvantage of getting started early.
So now we’re getting actually into the school year.
And we have, oh, well for some of you, the SAT and ACT in September, okay?
So October is also a good time to take it, but I’m trying to give you the safe side.
So you’re not close to any last minute deadlines for schools that do early admissions decision.
So October is fine, but September is better, okay?
So I think that’s a great time to do that.
And then October, so I have here, you’re noticing, letters of REC, okay?
That’s only one piece of a college application puzzle.
But why am I highlighting it here?
I’m highlighting it because for a lot of people, it’s the most intimidating part.
It’s hard to ask people sometimes for letters of REC.
I tell this to my pre-med students also, that teachers it’s part of our job.
So when we’re teaching we know that students are gonna ask for letters of rec.
The earlier you do it the better, because people get really busy.
And if you drew a letter writer, it’s a little bit of a heads up.
It’s just gonna make everything go so much smoother.
Okay, and so while you’re doing, just also maybe start filling out the application.
So usually, applications have a lot of easy parts, you just like birth date and things like that.
And then a lot of hard parts like the essays, okay?
So do get started and the essay is actually the very next tip I have for you, okay?
Moving into November, write your essays.
And I think a month is not unrealistic.
I think that a lot of students do this at the last minute and do not realize how important the essays are.
And I’ve been on the other side of it, okay?
I’ve help make decisions about kids getting, or sorry, young adults getting into college.
And the essays count a lot more than you realize.
So do some essay writing and see if you can get some people who will review them for you.
A lot of times guidance counselors will do that, family members, of course, are always an option.
Somebody who is maybe a year ahead of you in school that whose advice you really trust.
So start writing the essays, they really do matter.
Another thing I’ll say about that is that unfortunately, the essays don’t apply across all schools.
So you might have one essay that works for a whole bunch of schools.
But the other essays are often very school specific, which means you could be writing 15, 20 essays.
Okay, so month of November, you know what you’re gonna be doing.
December, December is a great time to submit applications.
And I will say that there are some schools that have early admission deadlines in November.
And actually some schools, the deadline’s November 30th.
But that’s pretty rare, most deadlines are in January.
So December I think is just like the prime spot to get those applications out of the way.
Make sure that you have all the materials that you need.
So you’re gonna have to have some kind of transcript.
It’s involved, but if you’re done with your essay, the submission part is pretty straight forward.
And so now we’re into the new year, you’re almost sort of graduated already.
And what happens in January?
Well, it’s a really good time to do the FAFSA.
And the reason for that, is because your parents will have gotten their text documentation from the year before.
So the nice thing about FAFSA is it really does have a really long time window of when you can submit, but not all scholarships have a really long time limit.
So in order to get in the good running for different scholarships, you wanna have your FAFSA done.
And that’s gonna be the earliest time you can do it with the most recent tax information from your parents.
And guidance counsellors always have extras, so they’re a great resource for that.
Very used to helping students navigate the path, so.
And then February, so February again, I’m coming back to scholarship issue.
Because I do think that it’s something that students overlook.
I overlooked it, I think I only applied for one, could have done a lot more.
But February is a short month, it’s a quick month, it’s gonna go by fast.
And you’re kinda in the sweet spot right now.
You’ve already submitted your applications and you’re not yet at point where you need to make decision.
So go ahead and use that time to look more scholarships.
All right, now we’re into March.
And for a lot people March is spring break, and for a lot people who take spring break during their senior year, that’s also a good time for campus visits.
I think visiting three campuses is probably a good number.
You can do more if they are really close together.
But if you aren’t able to make campus visits or maybe aren’t able to visit all the schools you want to see.
A really good idea is to email the schools orientation program and you can just find that through doing searches.
And then asked them if they have a current student that you can email to ask them about what’s it like to be a student here.
And that’s the quickest way to do it, it’s one of the best ways to do it.
So take advantage of emailing, if you can’t actually visit all the schools.
And then we have April.
So a lot of schools require you to make a decision May 1st.
What does that mean?
It means the month of April is like I remember being so distracted that month, trying to decided, I was down to two schools.
And they’re so many pros and cons to weigh.
So it’s a strange time, that decision time when you realize whoa, I could wind up on the West Coast, East Coast, small school, big school.
My whole life is kind of an unknown.
So give yourself that time to really make a good decision, and try not to stress out about it too much.
There’s wrong decision if it’s not the right school that you can always change schools.
I know it doesn’t sound like what you wanna do right now, but that’s April.
And then May is gonna come up so fast after April.
And it’s gonna be sort of unbelievable, it’s gonna be a blur.
You’re gonna be really busy with classes.
I haven’t mentioned that during all of these.
You’re also trying to take classes.
Some of you are trying to work part-time jobs.
So all of a sudden, it’s May, and what should you do in May?
You should keep your grades up.
A lot of people blow off their spring semester grades.
They feel like, well, schools have already accepted me.
What’s the big deal?
What a lot of students don’t realize is financial aid packages and scholarships can be revote, I know that sounds really scary and mean, but it’s true.
So if you’re not keeping your grades up, if there is a big drop in your academic performance, scholarships can decide not to give you the money after all.
So keep your grades up, it’s just that last semester you’re a pro at this by this point, right?
And then June, so my advice for June is actually a little bit different, kind of on a different angle.
And here I have participate, and by that I mean participate in the celebrations.
So when I was high school senior, I kind of develop this attitude of why do I need to go to senior skip?
Why do I have to do these senior all nighters?
I don’t need a graduation party.
I just doesn’t seem like so much effort and I was just already thinking about the future.
I wasn’t interested celebrating high school, and honestly, I kind of regret it.
And actually, I would’ve won something at a raffle if I had attended the senior all night party, and I didn’t get it, and my
friends told me.
So I know it’s just kind of like a silly piece of advice, but years from now, you might wish you had attended some of these senior events and graduation parties.
It doesn’t mean you’re gonna necessarily have a blast, you might, hopefully you will.
But it’s an experience that you’re never gonna have again.
And senior year is pretty cool, there’s a lot going on.
Want More High School Tips?
Take a look at some of our other useful strategies for getting through those magical four years:
- I’ve Failed a High School Class! Know What?
- 5 Simple Tips to Help Juniors Prep for the College Essay
- 4 Ways High School Students Can Spend the Summer Abroad
Happy studying! 🙂
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About Molly Kiefer
Molly is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She designs Magoosh’s graphic assets, manages our YouTube channels and podcasts, and contributes to the Magoosh High School Blog.
Since 2014, Molly has tutored high school and college students preparing for the SAT, GRE, and LSAT. She began her tutoring journey while in undergrad, helping her fellow students master math, computer programming, Spanish, English, and Philosophy.
Molly graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a B.A. in Philosophy, and she continues to study ethics to this day. An artist at heart, Molly loves blogging, making art, taking long walks and serving as personal agent to her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.
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