Memoirs of a Second Semester Senior
Author by Katyayani Jhaveri
For most high school students, making the decision of where to go to college is hard. Ultimately to make that one choice, many factors have to be added up: location, school size, finance. So how do you decide? Do you listen to your parents, your friends, your guidance counselor? I’m a second semester senior, my applications are done, checks paid, SAT and ACT scores sent out. But even now, I don’t know if I applied to all the right schools. Did I find the one that was meant for me? I don’t know, but I did learn a couple of things in the process that I wish someone had told me beforehand. It isn’t advice that you should follow with your eyes closed, you still have to do your own research and decide where you want to go without being irrationally influenced by anyone, but for those students and their parents who are exasperated over the college application process, I hope that this will help.
1. Getting involved does not mean joining a large number of school clubs during your junior year. When you are freshmen, it is really easy to fool yourself into thinking that you still have three more years to go before having to worry about college but the truth is that colleges love seeing students who have been dedicatedly participating in a few, staple activities for all four years. Instead of joining art club, math team, the yearbook staff, environmental club, and the dance team, all your junior year, join just one or two teams or clubs that you truly enjoy and stay in them throughout high school. Ideally, try to win a leadership position by the time that you are a senior so that colleges can see that you are going above and beyond.
2. Pay attention to your grades and the classes that you take from the beginning. What happens to a lot of upperclassmen is that they slack off during their freshmen and sophomore years. Then they end up cramming for lots of AP classes and stress into their schedules just to make up for the time lost. Don’t do this, junior and senior year are stressful enough without having to worry about bringing up your awful GPA too. Also, don’t be under the impression that colleges would rather see you get all As in easy classes than a couple Bs in more challenging classes. Schools want to see you challenge yourself so take classes that are not necessarily easy As.
3. Get to know your guidance counselor. For most students, this person is just someone who has been hired by the school to answer any random questions that they might have about school. But in reality, your guidance counselor is also someone whose recommendation is required by many colleges. This doesn’t mean that you need to smooch up to your guidance counselor, but by getting to know you your guidance counselor will have a better idea of what type of person you are and of what your interests are. This is a great help when they need to write over a hundred recommendations; you want your counselor to be able to make you stick out. Also, when the time for scholarships rolls around the only way your guidance counselor can help you is if he knows what you are looking for.
4. Take both the SAT and the ACT, and look into taking the SAT Subject Tests. I know that the typical mindset is that if you are an English student you should take the SAT and that if you are a math or science student you should take the ACT and this generality does have some truth to it, but I’m an English student and my score on the ACT was much better than it was on the SAT. Both the tests are different and you don’t want to limit yourself by just taking one. Also, do not be under the wrong impression that colleges prefer one test over the other. This is a myth. Colleges could care less about which test you take as long as you score well. The SAT Subject Tests are tests which focus on a specific subject, such as World History or Literature. Many top colleges require these just as they require the SAT or ACT; look into taking these before your senior year because many of them pertain to classes that you will take sophomore and junior year. You want to take these tests when the information is fresh in your mind, not a year later when you have forgotten everything.
5. Have fun in high school. This is something that I recommend above all. Don’t let the pressure of grades, teachers, parents, colleges get to you. If you involve yourself in something that you know you will enjoy such as the school newspaper or a an upcoming play then you will get the chance to meet new people, make life-long friendships, and understand what high school is all about: getting to know yourself and realizing what you want to do in the future.
Katyayani Jhaveri is an upcoming senior at Spanish River High School. She is an avid reader and loves to write. She has spent two years writing for her school’s newspaper and was the Student Life editor during her junior year. She has been learning Bharatnatyam for the past eight years.