The Final Chapter: Senior Year Advice

Alexis Queen, Aliya Zuberi, Emily Simonson, Kaitlyn Salyers, and Tre'Vaughn Howard

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After what feels like forever, senior year is finally here. Suddenly, everything will become about colleges, applications, recruitment offices, and the impending future. You’ll be stressed and excited all at the same time. It’ll be a year of rejections, acceptances, firsts, and lasts. Don’t worry. You’ve got some pros to help you out. 

Dear Seniors,

Congrats on making it to your last year of high school! Though “senioritis” is real and you may feel burned out, don’t forget that this year determines big parts of your future. When it comes to applications, be yourself and show them all that you’ve worked towards and all that you have to offer. Also, with a rising sense of competition for both in-state and out-of-state schools, be prepared to have other options and don’t let one rejection ruin your plans and dreams! Senior year can become overly stressful due to academics and extracurriculars. While it can be hard to get caught up in tests and college applications, be sure to cherish every moment you have left at FMHS. It didn’t hit me until after graduation that come fall, most of my close friends are going to a different school than me. Go to the Bishop Verot basketball game, I promise it’s fun. Dance with your friends at prom. Tell your teachers and guidance counselors you appreciate what they do for you. Experience all that you can this last year of high school, because before you know it, you’ll be walking across the stage at graduation with the class of 2018 together for one last time. There will be some people you won’t expect to miss, but others that you never thought of being without. Best of luck to you all, and go greenwave!

Love, Emily Simonson (’17)

Dear Class of 2018,

Chances are, the second you walk into FMHS on your first day of senior year, the senioritis will start to kick in. My case of senioritis wasn’t too bad; I didn’t have any unexcused absences senior year, but most of that was because I was afraid of falling behind in my classes.

Here’s something that nobody tells you about senior year: it literally doesn’t get easier. If you’re in IB, you’ve probably heard someone say that senior year is easier than junior year, but that’s a lie. You have your Extended Essay, what feels like a billion IAs, your TOK assessments, and your orals to prepare for. It. Doesn’t. End. I’m actually convinced that the entire school just says “It gets easier!” as a way of motivating you, when in reality you don’t realize that the “easy part” never comes until graduation.

The first semester of senior year was a blur to me, at least the first half of it. My advice is to start on your college apps as soon as possible, even if you look at the application deadline and think, “Oh, I have loads of time!” I was really on top of my college app game, and it took a ton of stress off my shoulders. Don’t be afraid to talk to any of the guidance counselors. They’re there to help you, and you’re probably going to have a lot of questions because the entire college application process is honestly kind of stupid. Balancing homework and apps is not fun at all, so try and dedicate one day a week to just applications.

In terms of application essays, I don’t know what else to say besides just, “Be yourself.” A good essay isn’t going to negate your other credentials if they’re lacking, but it can assure your dream school’s admission counselors that you really deserve to be there, that you’re the type of student they want to attend their university. Show your best side, but don’t lie, and definitely don’t get someone to write your essays for you. Word limits will be your downfall, so work on putting a lot of character into a few words. Have your friends and family read your essays over to see if they really represent who you are.

Colleges want to see that you have a personality, and a good way to show that is through extracurriculars. You don’t need to fill all ten extracurricular list options on the Common App; in fact, a lot of admissions counselors would rather see that you put a lot of time into a few things rather than a little time into a lot of things. You can be well-rounded without seeming like you’re trying too hard.

While we’re on the topic of extracurriculars, please try your hardest to stay dedicated to them through the end. Seeing your friends stop caring about the clubs and organizations that brought you guys together is so disheartening, and the underclassmen who are going to inherit those clubs from you deserve better.

And while I’m mentioning friends, it’s worth noting that there’s going to be a period during your senior year, probably second semester, around February/March, where you and your closest friends are going to hate each other. You’re all going to be stressed about hearing back from colleges, probably silently judging each other’s future career choices, worried about scholarships and working and grades, basically at each other’s throats. It cools off when everyone’s committed somewhere, but it’s not an entirely bad thing to stay at home for a few weekends and just silently fume at each other until you realize it’s not that deep. Four years of seeing the same people every single day gets overwhelming, especially when there’s a new horizon looming in the distance, and tensions can build up fast. You’ll all get over it eventually.

Senior year is weird. You spend the whole year wanting to leave high school, but before you know it, it’s over. I don’t think it really kicked in for me until my last Prism concert. I will admit that I haven’t cried over Fort Myers High School, but I look back on my four years there and remember far more good than bad. When you’re there, you feel like you’d rather be anywhere else, but when you’re gone you tend to be reminded of the positives every so often.

Make the most of your year. Dress up during homecoming week, go to the dances, do stupid things with the friends you grew up with while you’re all still in the same place. At the same time, keep your future in mind, and don’t do anything to jeopardize your chances at attending the college of your dreams. Good luck, work hard, and just remember to take some time to lie down every once in a while and put it all in perspective.

Sincerely, Aliya Zuberi (’17)

Dear Class of 2018,

Maybe you have friends who have already graduated from high school. I did when I was in your shoes, but I still held a certain sense of veneration and idolism for those students who seemed so much older and experienced than me. Finally, I reached twelfth grade and uncovered one of those secrets that only reveal themselves as you age: Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you suddenly know what you’re doing. That’s okay. If you’re anything like me, countless adults have already told you that this year will be one of the best of your life. In some ways, these adults are right, like when they tell you to cherish the time you have left with your friends and family. But this year will also likely be your most mentally and emotionally taxing year so far, and I don’t want to diminish the hard work and resilience that this school year will demand from you.

When you are inevitably feeling overwhelmed this year, don’t worry– everyone else is feeling this way as well. Between schoolwork, extracurricular activities, jobs, college applications, and scholarship searches, your body and mind will feel stretched across a million different paths. This is compounded by the fact that many of you don’t know where you will be a year from now. If you’re hoping to go to your dream school, gain acceptance to the military, or land an ideal job, work as hard as you possibly can to achieve that goal. Then, if it works out, excellent! If it doesn’t, deconstruct the existing plan for your life and create an even better one. There is something else out there for you. No institution can deny your excellence.

For those of you applying for college and scholarships, start early. Hopefully you’ve already taken the SAT/ACT and received your desired score, but if not, sign up for a fall date and start studying immediately. Get to know your guidance counselor; they will be writing you a letter of recommendation and recommending students for scholarships. They’re also extremely helpful throughout this entire process, whether you need questions answered about postsecondary education or emotional support. Decide which teachers you want to write your letters of recommendation and ask them as soon as possible. Give them some guidance on what you would ideally like included in that letter. Make a comprehensive list of all the colleges you want to apply to, and be sure that your list includes some safety schools. Research the scholarships given out by these schools and talk to your parents about financing your education. You may need to apply to schools that are likely to give you scholarships in order to have some backups. For many of you, paying for your schooling will be a primary consideration. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to choose the college that makes the most financial sense. Get working on your essays. Ask your parents or a teacher to revise them, and be open to criticism. When you finally click “submit” on your applications, you want to be confident in your work.

This is your last year in high school, so make it count. If you have always wanted to join a certain club, or even start your own, it is not too late. If there is a sport you’ve thought about playing but never joined, try out. Have fun with your friends, but make sure to spend the necessary time on your schoolwork. Senioritis is a real thing that you must fight against. It’s possible that you will see your classmates slipping, but rise above that. You will only get where you want to go by continually pushing to be the best version of yourself. Stay honest and diligent. I believe in you. And when it’s all over, you’ll realize it was worth the effort.

Sincerely, Kaitlyn Salyer (’17)

Hey, Class of 2018!

Some advice I have to share along to the rising seniors would be to stay focus. Senioritis is real and it will definitely hit you mid-way through the year if it hasn’t already the 1st Quarter. Stay on top of all your deadlines whether it be for an assignment at school or college apps. Senior year has also got to be one of the most expensive, so make sure you save up because it can be very costly. Also make sure to cherish every moment you have with your classmates because this will be the last year all of you guys will be together. After this year each of you will be going to different city’s for college and doing your own thing, so make sure to make memories while you still can.

From, Tre’Vaughn Howard
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