The Senior Year Schedule

As a junior, it’s far from unheard of to have the future sneak up on you; there are, quite simply, so many things to be done. Concepts to be crammed in (and immediately forgotten). SAT’s to be taken. As such, senior year never really stops being that far away dream of serenity and trumpets and golden light.

That is, until you suddenly have to start picking your classes for it.

So what does a senior schedule look like? What should it look like?

Here are some rough guidelines to remember when sorting out your final year at high school:


1. Make sure you can actually graduate

It sounds a bit silly, sure. But there should be no greater priority in your mind other than meeting those requirements to receive your diploma. (I know of several students at San Dieguito Academy who had to take sculpture to fulfill their art credit). If you aren’t positive that you’re on track – check with your counselor; it’s definitely better to err on the side of caution than be this guy:


2. Colleges do care

It’s going to be tempting to give yourself every elective that exists. Don’t. Keep in mind that colleges review your entire journey through high school – and they really like to see a student continually challenging his or herself. If you’ve always taken the AP versions of classes, it’s probably in your best interest to keep with that trend. Also, since we’re on the subject, it’s generally a decent rule of thumb to either maintain or build on the number of AP’s that you take each year.

Now, obviously, if you had six AP classes as a junior, repeating that kind of a number as a senior would almost certainly cause irreversible trauma. But do your best to stay in the general ballpark. (Side note: if you have the option to take a college level class like, say, Calculus 3 at your school, know that colleges will regard those courses just as highly, if not more highly, than an AP – despite them technically being unweighted.)


3. Colleges like consistency

This is one of those insights where, if you find out about it too late, there’s not a whole lot that can be done. Colleges like to see ongoing dedication and commitment in their applicants. Whether that is playing a sport since age 10 or taking language classes throughout all of high school. If there is a subject that you have been devoted to during the first three years (something like band, for example), than you can earn brownie points by seeing it through.


4. Applying for colleges is like its own class

Some students, going into senior year, have the opportunity to take a kind of college application seminar class – something geared towards assisting you through the college process. If you have this as an option, take advantage of it.

Whether you do or not, though, the amount of essay writing that will go down in those first few months will be positively overwhelming. And, if you end up having a series of other writing-based classes in your first semester (ie: English), it might be worth discussing with your counselor to shift things around. Cranking out essay upon essay upon essay can start deteriorating the quality of your work – and college-application season is far from the optimal time for that.


5. Expect senioritis

As nice as it may feel to write on your college apps that you took all APs your senior year – I urge you to thoroughly consider the long run. Deny it all you want, but senioritis will strike you at one point or another (if it hasn’t already). Whether it’s due to procrastination or fatigue or stress, there are going to be days in your senior year where you simply cannot fathom staying up again until the wee hours of the morning.


So, don’t feel guilty when slightly cushioning your schedule. Senior year is your last chance to take those classes that you’ve always wanted to take. (For me, it was creative writing and culinary arts). There are ways to craft a schedule that is beneficial both to your reputation as a college applicant and to your health as a teenager. Like many things, it’s comes down to finding that balance.


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  • 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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