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Insights for Incoming High School Seniors

Abby Cohan
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St. John's graduates

Graduates of St. John’s School (Top row, from left) Joseph Hlavinka, Will Rippeto, Cara Wolff, Caroline Ramirez, Christian Flowers; (bottom row, from left) Daily Desenberg, Alex Kakadiaris and Ellie Gershenwald enjoy wearing their college t-shirts on their last day of high school. 

Ah, the excitement and relief of finishing the horrors of junior year of high school. Finally. Now you are entering your senior year but still have challenges ahead before graduation. When should seniors start and finish their college applications? What should they expect? Incoming seniors have lots of questions about how to best plan ahead (without driving themselves crazy). So, I asked some experts - recent high school graduates -  for their insights.

Michael Keene, an incoming freshman at the University of Mississippi and a graduate of Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, advises rising seniors to “Stay present in the moment. I know how easy it is to rush through your senior year and focus solely on the excitement of going off to college, but if I could do it over again, I would take a step back and embrace senior year for what it is as opposed to going through the motions.”

Nikolas Jok, an incoming freshman at American University and a graduate of Carnegie Vanguard High School, advises seniors not to take everything super seriously and to have as much fun as you can during senior year. Jok said, “I worked hard for three years so I could breeze through my last year to do things I wanted to do. Apply to college early and get applications over with at the beginning.” Additionally, he noted that “senioritis” is extremely real, so “Try to fight it, especially during the standardized testing season.”

Harbin Cheung, Nikolas Jok

Harbin Cheung hugs Nikolas Jok after graduating from Carnegie Vanguard High School.

Ellie Gershenwald, an incoming freshman at New York University and a graduate of St. John’s School, said, “It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what kind of college you are looking for right away.” She suggested to keep an open mind and visit as many different types of colleges as possible to get a feel for what you want because there is a college for everyone.

Hanna Nyberg, an incoming freshman at Skidmore College and a graduate of Episcopal High School, recommends getting your college applications done early and reminds seniors not to compare where you’re applying with others. Everyone is different. Nyberg further suggested “to not slack off with your school work because colleges see your transcript at the end of the year.” In the end, she said “to enjoy your last moments with the people you’re with at school.”

Grace Castaneda, an incoming freshman at Wake Forest University and a graduate of St. Agnes Academy, said, “Don’t wish for the time to fly by, because in the end, you will want it to slow down.” Furthermore, she noted that your GPA still has the potential to rise. Castaneda said to end on a good note, and it’s never too late for anything. When you are not in school, she suggested taking chances to explore your city. 

Gavin Roth, an incoming freshman at University of Michigan and a graduate of The Emery/Weiner School, advised to not be nervous about acceptances or denials. He explained to “Just put your best foot forward because there’s only so much you can do. Once you submit your applications, there is not much else you can do than wait.” So don’t stress about the awaiting decision because that is unnecessary, and you simply don’t know.

Loev family

Marisa Loev, Jordan Loev, Hannah Loev and David Loev celebrate Jordan’s graduation from Bellaire High School.

Jordan Loev, an incoming freshman at Carnegie Mellon University and a graduate of Bellaire High School, suggested to try something new and get involved in a new activity. “Now is the time to get involved in that thing you always wanted to do,” he said. Loev added that “It’s a great year to explore your interests and make the most of your last year of high school. If you are already involved in activities that take up your time, make sure to enjoy them and cherish the time with your friends, as well as try to leave a lasting impact.”

My advice is to do your best in every class, especially during first semester because if you are waitlisted at a school, they will request your first-semester grades. It’s important to research schools; really think about what you are looking for in a college. Don’t base your decisions on where your friends apply. If I could go back, I would have embraced the unexpected and unknown instead of worrying about what would happen if I didn’t get into a certain school. Everything happens for a reason, so keep a sense of humor during the process.

After all, just remember that the tassel is worth the hassle.

  • Gavin Roth, Abby Cohan

    Gavin Roth and Abby Cohan find each other for a quick photo after the graduation ceremony.

  • Emery grads

    (Top row, from left) Gabby Foox, Nicki Miller, Netanya Ronn; (bottom row, from left) Eve Baliff and Abby Cohan cherish their last official day at The Emery/Weiner School before heading off to Poland and Israel for their senior class trip.

  • Hanna Nyberg, Pablo Vilas

    Hanna Nyberg and Pablo Vilas celebrate their last day of classes as Episcopal Knights.

  • Gavin Roth, Abby Cohan
  • Emery grads
  • Hanna Nyberg, Pablo Vilas

More photos

Gavin Roth, Abby Cohan

Gavin Roth and Abby Cohan find each other for a quick photo after the graduation ceremony.

Emery grads

(Top row, from left) Gabby Foox, Nicki Miller, Netanya Ronn; (bottom row, from left) Eve Baliff and Abby Cohan cherish their last official day at The Emery/Weiner School before heading off to Poland and Israel for their senior class trip.

Hanna Nyberg, Pablo Vilas

Hanna Nyberg and Pablo Vilas celebrate their last day of classes as Episcopal Knights.

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