High school seniors, now that you've submitted your college applications, you’ve officially entered the second phase of senior year (the fun part!). There really isn’t anything you can do now to increase the chances of your acceptance into your top choice schools, as the admissions process is officially out of your hands. So please don’t stress about something you have no control over, and take this as an opportunity to ease up a little bit and really enjoy your last few months of high school.
Two years ago, when I was in your shoes, I put together a bucket list of things I wanted to do before I graduated. I’m sharing that list with you in the hopes that it inspires you to do some of them, or even make your own list. Whichever way you choose to live out these last few months of high school, whether your goal is to try a million new things or to not have any goals at all, just remember to have fun with it! In about seven or eight months, you’ll be starting a whole new chapter, so take the time to appreciate this one as it comes to an end!
I would say that this is the most important item on the list, as almost everything that follows involves acting this out. Basically, do some things just for the sake of doing them in these last few months of high school! If you go to a boarding school like I did and one of your teachers offers you and your friends homemade hot sauce, try it! If a friend asks if you want to go on a bubble tea run, say yes! If a different friend says they have an extra ticket to your school’s production of The Laramie Project, take it! If any of these things seem overly specific, it’s because they really did happen to me, and I’m all the more better for taking people up on their offers. Being spontaneous is such a great way to make memories. I think I was at my happiest and most free when I stopped planning out my life excessively and just did things at the spur of the moment.
I don’t know what you’re like, but I know that for me, it’s very easy to become complacent in my social groups, wherever I am. In high school, that meant I mainly just talked to my group of friends. Although I tried to branch out a little bit in my senior year, I know I could’ve done a lot more, so this is something I’m tasking you with, high school senior reading this. These next few months are going to be the last moments where your senior class will be gathered together as completely as this, learning and growing side by side. Before you know it, you will all be separated, and will have to figure out how to learn and grow without each other for the first time in two years, four years, six years, eight years, or even twelve years. So while you still have this special group of people within reach, take the time to get to know as many people as you can! Listen to their stories and try to understand where their opinions are coming from, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. These people have seen you come into your own in your formative years and share a wealth of common experiences with you. You deserve to know them, and they deserve to be known by you, as human beings outside the classroom.
Along the lines of getting to know your peers, take the time to get to know some of your teachers as well. Teachers are some of the most fascinating people in the entire world, and you should take the time to learn about them a little if you can. Ask your chemistry teacher about their rock band or your English teacher about what college was like when they attended. It makes visiting after you leave all the more meaningful.
For me, this meant taking a ceramics class in the spring, despite being horrible at all art that requires the skilled use of my hands. I ended up not even being able to pour water out of the teapot I made for my final project, but I was okay with that. Taking ceramics gave me a chance to enjoy doing something despite not being good at it. I feel like both in high school and in college, I’ve focused on playing to my strengths because I always have the next step (first college, then a career) in mind, so being able to take a step back and explore something I knew I wouldn’t excel in right away was really refreshing for me.
After really clamping down on procrastination my junior and the first half of my senior year, telling myself that I could and should take the time to hang out with friends instead of studying 24/7 definitely felt a little weird at first. I always felt like I was supposed to be doing something with my time, because there was always a reading I could do or a test I could be studying for. However, I cherish the memories I made with friends. I remember making creamsicles and eating crackers in the dining hall after tennis with Leena, or hanging out with Zea in her room, admiring the prints she’d hung up and always wondering how her room smelled like coffee and vanilla. Let yourself kick back and relax a little! You only have a limited amount of time left to be a high school student with your friends.
If you’ve been to every single football game your high school has played the last few years, you can ignore this one. If you’re like me, however, and possess a desperate lack of school spirit, you should do what I didn’t and go out and support your school more. Soon you’ll be cheering for a different team, so you might as well go and show your support for your high school team while you’re still here. I’m sure your peers will appreciate having another voice of support to back them up.
Although I got a little better at taking more pictures in the last month or so of senior year, I do wish I’d taken more, so that in twenty years, when most of the details of my high school experience have become nothing but a fuzzy memory, I’d be able to pull out my archives and be reminded of everything I’d forgotten. Specifically, I wish I’d taken more photos of the things that were ordinary to me at the time, like my favorite classroom, flowers blooming on campus in the spring, or my friends sitting around a table in the dining hall. If only I had known that I would inevitably get soppy from time to time (as I am now writing this)!
Let the people you love know that you love them, whether they're your family or friends. You can move onto the next chapter of your life knowing that you’ve expressed everything you needed to express to those you love the most, and thus can continue onward with your focus on the future.
Even though I certainly didn’t do everything on my bucket list, I did manage to accomplish a lot of them my senior year. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the little things in life, like assignments or arguments, and not realize you’re in the middle of a moment™ until that moment™ is over. With this bucket list in mind, however, my head was the clearest it’s ever been. I lived out the second half of my senior year with intention, and that was what ultimately made it so special.