It is no secret that senior year is the most anticipated year in high school. It is the year of both lasts and new beginnings. It is a time where students feel on top of the world and compelled to become the best version of themselves in preparation for university or college.
While it is empowering and exciting to have this new sense of independence at school, it is instrumental that seniors know what to do to get the most out of their year. Once they can make the best out of their senior year by exhausting the possibilities available to them, they can make the best out of their future, whatever direction or field they are headed in.
Ultimately, it boils down to leveraging resources, opportunities, and information to optimize your last year of high school.
So, listen up seniors. Let’s talk about 9 things to do before graduating high school…
1. Develop good spending habits!
We have all been told to be wise when it comes to spending our money. During senior year, this rings more true than ever. Students suddenly can drive to school and drive around in general. This freedom opens the door to increased spending on unnecessary goods. Spending money on a Starbucks coffee before school and going out with your friends for lunch a couple of times a week may seem minor at the time, but it really does all add up.
Now, think about going to university or college. These institutions have various food locations throughout the building itself. If you are used to spending money every time you see a Starbucks or your favourite sushi restaurant, it is going to be impossible to ignore them or not be tempted. Moreover, if you live in residence, you are completely away from your parents. You will have no one on your back to keep you in check.
If you do not practice good spending habits, self-control, and responsibility during your senior year in high school – a time where freedom is merely introduced, it will be difficult to not go overboard in university or college when freedom is at its most. Seniors, let’s plan for the future!
Some tips for developing good spending habits are:
- Give yourself a good reason to spend money
- Have a weekly or monthly budget in mind and stick to it
- Recognize your spending triggers (boredom, you get unexpected cash, you found a “great” deal)
2. Download LinkedIn and start making connections!
If you haven’t already, download LinkedIn and build your connections during your final year of high school.
Growing your network on LinkedIn is amazing because it allows you to maintain contact with people who you have worked with or know well. By connecting with these people, they can professionally endorse your capabilities in the future whenever you may need it – like for a job or internship opportunity.
A survey from PostBeyond showed that at least 84% of organizations are currently using social media for recruitment. This highlights how students should be capitalizing on this by growing their network.
Moreover, several recruiters can ask for your LinkedIn account when you apply for an opportunity in the future. If you start building your profile and page in high school, you can represent yourself well as your amount of connections can indicate your professional capabilities.
You never know, your senior high school friends can be potential business partners and clients in the future! Might as well add everyone to your network!
3. Focus on your career goal, not just your academics!
During your senior year, you may hear things like “make sure you keep this grade” or “just focus on the overall average you need for your program”. Now while these statements are true as grades are primarily what admission officers look at, it must NOT be the only thing YOU focus on. Placing your attention and effort solely on your grades is a narrow perspective.
So, don’t spend all your time on maintaining a grade throughout your senior year when it will not matter anymore the moment your senior year is over. Focus on the other things you can do to work towards your career goal, whether that is participating in clubs, getting an internship, volunteering with a company, and more.
As you can see, it is instrumental that seniors focus on their career goals. Their academics should just be the stepping stone to pursuing their goals, not something that is considered of utmost importance.
4. Reflect and assess your experiences!
Reflect on your high school experience! You are approaching four years at your high school – you have definitely learned more about your learning style, your passions, your dislikes, your social life, and how to overcome challenges.
While you may be itching to get on with your senior year and leave high school altogether, don’t ignore or disregard what you have discovered throughout the years!
Absorb, understand, and contemplate what you have taken away from your high school experience as you enter your final year. It will give you a better understanding of what to look out for during your final year and how you can make the most of it.
Plus, it will give you an idea of what not to do as you go into a new environment at college or university!
Ask yourself these questions:
- What course did I like and why?
- What was my least favourite course and why?
- What are my preferred testing and study methods?
- When do I procrastinate and why do I think that is?
- What accomplishment am I most proud of?
- What was my favourite thing about my high school’s culture/environment?
- What was the biggest school-related challenge I faced?
5. Keep asking questions!
Just because you are a senior, it does not mean you know everything. Lots of information will be tossed at you during your final year so it is your responsibility to ensure you know what is expected of you.
It may be scary or intimidating to ask questions. However, it is important to recognize that the most helpful resource is in fact the people that are around you – your teachers, principal, guidance counselors etc. These are people that you can express your concerns and questions to and they will provide you with an answer or try their best to guide you in the right direction.
Don’t spend your senior year wondering about the possibilities. Take action and ask questions to get the answer you need! Your goal should be having no “what if’s” or “I should have…” after you graduate!
6. Apply for scholarships!
We could all use some free money to help fund our education! Many students, however, don’t put the time in and apply for scholarships. There are honestly hundreds upon hundreds of opportunities out there for you to win money. Whether it’s $5000, $1000, or even just $500, every bit counts.
If you are struggling to find any scholarships that apply to you, talk to your parents and family members to see if their workplaces offer any. There are many companies that have annual or bi-annual scholarships available, and not many people apply for them.
7. Keep your extracurriculars in check!
Senior year is the year to dip your feet into new interests, sports, and hobbies. By your fourth year of high school, you know more about what clubs are offered and how to manage your time. You probably aren’t as nervous to try extracurriculars out as you were during your first year. You may also know more about yourself and your interests.
Instead of devoting your senior year completely to academics, join new extracurriculars and become more involved in the school. There are several opportunities at hand, all you have to do is put some initiative to get started!
This will keep your senior year balanced between leisure and academics! Plus, it will teach you a thing or two about how to independently participate in the clubs and opportunities offered at your future college or university.
Also taking on a more active role in your school looks incredible on a resume!
8. Trust Yourself!
When it comes to choosing your program and which college or university to go to, do not negatively compare your plans to anyone else! Comparing your current situation and plans with someone else can result in envy, low self esteem, and more. Trust the direction you are heading in because every individual and their plans are different!
You may also have a gut-feeling towards which university or college you want to attend. Trust your gut-feeling and your intuition!
9. Don’t be dependent on your friends!
Most likely, you will not be going to the same university or college as your friends. With that knowledge, seniors tend to stick to their friends and become overly dependent on them during their final year of high school because it’s the last time they will get to do so.
On the flip side, maybe you have been dependent on your friends since the beginning of high school and can’t seem to make decisions without them, let alone be away from them.
During your senior year, try doing things independently instead of always having a friend by your side. It may seem uncomfortable or weird at first, but practicing being alone will help you in university where you may have to figure out information, make decisions, and be in a social setting completely by yourself.
It is also so important that you are making decisions that are the best for you. Don’t base your program and interests around your friends. You may even be doing it without knowing!
Acknowledge that it might be difficult to leave your friends and be on your own, but also remember that doing so is necessary for you to excel in your passions and as an individual once your senior year is over.
This article was written as a resource for the High School Business Heroes Competition at McMaster University and the DeGroote School of Business.
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