This week is my last first week of high school. As I enter senior year, I am struck by an overwhelming feeling. The stress of college applications, SAT/ACT scores, and getting solid first semester grades causes me to think about ways to make myself and my life a little less flustered.
Here are some tips that are helping me start senior year in the right mindset and will hopefully help your teen too!
5 Tips to Help Your Senior During Their Last Year of High School
1. Make a calendar
There are so many deadlines and events, and it’s easy to forget. Work with your senior to get everything on a calendar so they don’t miss anything important. Just recently, I bought an oversized desk calendar, the biggest I could find, and wrote down every important date I needed to remember for the entire school year. Doing this made me feel extremely organized and confident that I will not forget anything.
Hang this calendar in a place that you are constantly near. I hung it above my desk, so I am always able to peek over and see my schedule for the week. Including family events and commitments and parent responsibilities for the college application process will help make everyone’s expectations clear.
2. Manage college application stress
The most stressful part of senior year, for most students and parents I know, is college applications. A calendar is essential here! The best way to help manage your senior’s college application stress is to assign deadlines for each application.
Personally, I set all of my deadlines a week or two before the actual due date. This way, I won’t need to worry about making last-minute adjustments, or the nightmare of having a college admissions site crash due to overwhelming amounts of submissions. In this process, it is always good to stay focused and stay ahead!
Respect the stress. Just respecting that this is rightly a stressful time can be really helpful, instead of dismissing your teen’s concerns. Your teen is choosing a college, which is a big decision, and preparing for a huge transition.
Parents often try to relax teens by saying things like, “It doesn’t matter where you go” or “I’m sure you’ll get in somewhere,” but acknowledging that it really IS stressful and difficult can help your teen keep perspective. In the midst of all the stress, your teen needs your support.
All my friends and I want to hear during process is an acknowledgement that it’s really hard. We know the world won’t end if we don’t get into our top choice school. We know that in the grand scheme of life, college applications aren’t the hardest thing in the world.
But we also know that, so far, this is the biggest decision we’ve ever made, and a lot of it isn’t up to us. It’s very overwhelming! Agreeing with us that it’s stressful won’t make us more stressed. It will just make us feel like you’re on our side.
3. Apply for scholarships
If you’re planning to apply for financial aid, don’t wait until high school is over. There are lots of scholarships available online and your school may have a list as well, so get those deadlines on the calendar too!
4. Take advantage of free resources
There are lots of free resources for college applications,scholarships, and SATs online, so if you don’t know something, don’t lose hope. In general, “I didn’t know” won’t be a valid excuse in the college application process, so if there’s anything that you’re unsure about, get on Google and start looking!
Your school college counseling office likely also has parent resources available and can help to make sure there’s nothing missing from your timeline. If they don’t, it may be good to connect with other parents whose students are in the same class as your teen (via an email group or Facebook group, for example) to share information and deadlines.
5. Try to enjoy a few moments
This is your teen’s last year living at home, so try to remember that their time with friends and at school events is really important. These last few months of high school are extremely valuable and should not be remembered for stress and anxiety.Encourage your teen to have social experiences while still working hard and getting everything done. Try to enjoy a few moments together too – you can even put them into that all-important calendar to make sure they get done.