17 things to do before the high school senioritis kicks in.
What’s up, class of 2017! We have reached the beginning of our last year in high school AKA the beginning of the end (of our relatively simple high school lives). If you’re like me you are probably experiencing a mix of emotions ranging from “What in the world am I going to write about for this stupid Common App personal essay prompt” type of anxiety to “What in the world am I going to do now that I am the big man on campus” type of excitement. Before you get caught up in these bittersweet feels, here are a few things you may want to add to your bucket list for the year.
1. Engage in Approved Means of Vandalism
Careful kids. Don’t necessarily try this at home. I’m lucky to be at a school where toilet-paper rolling has been a senior tradition for decades. Every year, seniors roll our school twice: once during homecoming week and once during the last week of classes. This is one of those “Oh sweet I can vandalize my school without actually vandalizing my school!” moments that don’t come often unless you’re the kid with the strange obsession of drawing smiley faces and butterflies on desks with a pencil. Take advantage of these oddly-satisfying moments of rebellion, in whatever form they take, at your school. And only if they take place at your school. Please don’t paint your headmaster’s parking space without his approval first.
2. Befriend Starbucks & Study Books
By this point you’ve probably already had several study dates, whether sprawled out with notes all over your living room carpet or in the comfort of a Starbucks sofa while jamming to some quality jazz. But have you ever had a major group study date? If not, now’s the time. Grab your hefty SAT study books or AP Gov flashcards (yes, I know that’s geeky but those things are life-savers) and head out to a friend’s house or a park or a Barnes & Noble cafe. Socialize a bit and make sure to study a lot. Who am I kidding? You’ll probably just talk and eat. In which case, make sure to have plenty of individual study time. If you’re taking AP Calculus I can guarantee that you’re going to need it.
3. Become an Honorary Cameron Crazy
It’s time to become a superfan. A superfan who ‘paints up’ in school colors and screams into annoyingly-loud megaphones during football games. A superfan who supports the marching band by standing and singing along to their half-time performance anthems, especially the awesome Coldplay ones. A superfan who cheers the loudest and leads the standing ovation when the drama team takes their final bow before the curtain call. Support your school. Support your student body. Cheer on the people around you who have, either directly or indirectly, made your school a home through their various talents.
4. In the Words of Nike or Shia LaBeouf… JUST DO IT
So what if you want to do the spring musical but you’ve never acted in your life? So what if the thought of becoming the varsity basketball team manager sounds awesome yet terrifying at the same time? So what if you are interested in French Club but the only foreign language you’ve ever studied is Mandarin Chinese? JUST DO IT. You have one more year to take advantage of the opportunities provided for you in your small high school sphere. So take advantage! Try something new and stick to it. Engage with people you wouldn’t normally engage with. Develop relationships with teachers that you’d never develop relationships with. Go. For. It.
5. Midnight Waffle House Runs are a Must
Chocolate chip waffles and a plethora of inside joke-inducing conversations with your friends? Say no more. If for some reason you do not have a love for quality breakfast food, try a different late-night food and fraternizing activity. DQ drive-throughs, Sonic shakes, Cook Out shakes, your local diner. I’m not saying go for the freshman fifteen a few months early, I’m just saying that a night out with some food and friends every once in awhile is good for the soul, even if it isn’t good for BMI. Which, thankfully, we are at a point in life where we don’t have to worry about that too much.
6. Select a Senior Year Spotify Playlist
I kinda stole this idea from one of our senior teachers who has the coolest assignment ever: create a soundtrack of songs that describe your life thus far. In a similar sense, create a soundtrack (Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, Tidal…) of songs that speak to you throughout your senior year. That song that you and your friends jam to with the windows down as you ride back for a girls’ night after the dance? Add it to the Spotify. That song on your volleyball warm-up CD that never fails to pump you up? Add it to the Spotify. That song that you and your friends discover on YouTube during a brief reprieve from browsing cat videos and contouring tutorials? Add it to the Spotify. Create your own musical memoir.
7. Ask for a Recommended Reading List and Ditch the Assigned Reading List
Believe it or not, your teachers may read books other than Animal Farm on a normal basis. So find out what they read! Ask for book recommendations. Ask for music recommendations. If you end up choosing a college that one of your teachers graduated from, ask for local restaurant recommendations or suggestions as to the best places to hang out off-campus. Your high school teachers have been feeding you curricular knowledge for at least four years. Ask them to fill you up with some of their personal knowledge and suggestions as well.
8. Learn for the Sake of Learning, Not for the Sake of Having Another Nice Statistic on Your College App
Guess what? After you’ve applied the show is almost over. While it is still certainly important to aim for high grades and to finish the year strong, you finally have the opportunity to give yourself a breather. Relax. Learn for the sake of learning. Instead of memorizing all the details about the branches of government and pushing in all those dreaded english vocabulary words ten minutes before class for pure means of making an A on the quiz, try to actually learn something. Learn about the historian’s POVs on various wars throughout history and the various potential issues that sparked the battles. Attempt to broaden your vocabulary by using the vocabulary words on Quizlet instead of inventing cheap phrases to help you memorize them for the brief fifteen-minute quiz. Learn for yourself not for pretty AP labels on college applications.
9. Don’t Forget the Family Fun Nights
In the midst of various senior year activities, make sure to focus on more than your friends and fellow classmates. Remember that your family will also have to deal with your absence when you leave and make the most of your time together. Make sure to be interactive during family bonding, whether it be a dinner at Moe’s or a Wii Sports bowling tournament like the good ol’ days. Better yet, plan some activities yourself! Take your mom to see a good movie, go with your dad to the bookstore for coffee and a magazine, and watch your little brother’s card tricks because he really wants you to be impressed by them. Make sure your family knows how much you love them and how much fun you have when you are with them.
10. Put a Pause on the Pre-Planning
It’ll be easy to get caught up in college apps, scholarship essays, senior lunches, homecoming events, and standardized test scores. Stop worrying over these things 24/7 and instead worry about enjoying the moment. There’s a time and a place for everything. So have your time for Google calendars and group chats and emails for planning; pre-planning is important. Developing a schedule and structure for your so-called ‘college life’ is important. The moments you spend with your friends during your final year, however, are more important. It’s so cliche but the best thing you can do is ‘live in the moment.’ Don’t let this year pass you by, even when you wish it would.
11. Leave a ‘Little Gift’ for Your Headmaster
When you do the whole hand-shaking diploma thing leave your headmaster something in return. This can be anything from a note to a random McDonald’s toy. You think I’m kidding? One of the past graduating classes from my school all individually gifted our headmaster with baked potatoes. Don’t ask why because I still don’t know. The point is that they gave him something to remember them by that was meaningful to their class as a whole and as individuals. It also happened to be completely hilarious.
12. Take a Senior Trip that isn’t a Cruise
The ‘Senior Cruise’ legend is one that needs to die out. Guys, stop complaining about how your school doesn’t let you take a senior cruise. Organize a trip yourself! Take a day trip to Universal Studios, go to a zoo, round up everyone to see a midnight movie premiere (*cough* Fantastic Beasts *cough*), go to a big city near you. There are countless ‘senior trips’ that you all could take without having to go on the infamous ‘senior cruise’ or the equivalent of. Find some way to group together for an activity you all will love.
13. School Bus Rap-Battles Need to be a Thing
Whether it be on the way back home from an out-of-town basketball game or on the way back home from a senior lunch, there will most likely be some memorable school bus moments. Take advantage of them. You may never be situated in that musty, sock-scented, Dorito bag-cluttered vehicle with a bunch of friends ever again. Don’t sit there with your headphones and look out the window like you’re in a music video. Sing, play games, joke, and laugh with buddies on the bus. Rap battles are even better. You may be surprised by the freestyle magic that results from stinky bus delirium.
14. Love your Locker Space
If you’re an “organized slob” (an incredibly accurate oxymoron coined by my mother) like me, you understand the struggle of wanting to maintain a pretty room/desk/locker space while simultaneously lacking the motivation to do so. Instead of tossing books and notes and empty plastic bottles into your locker or on your desk, try to keep your space nice and neat. Pretend like this is sixth grade again and decorate your locker. Add pictures, a calendar, shelves. Make your space your own.
15. Say no to the Straighteners and Curling Irons for a Bit
Look professional. Look presentable. Don’t look perfect. Realize that extra sleep and study time is going to be more important than straightening your bangs. You’re at the top now. Who are you trying to impress? Be comfy and be happy. Relax.
16. Get a Cute Stationery Set and Go to Town on Thank You Cards
By the end of the year you are probably going to realize just how many people have impacted your life up to this point. As you realize these people make sure to recognize these people. Thank you cards should become your friend. Get some cute stationary from Hallmark or the Barnes & Noble clearance station and start writing. Write to the teacher that changed your life. Write to the teacher whose class may have wrecked up the 4.0. Write to the coach that made you literally vomit during practice yet made you love every second of it. Write to the ladies in the lunchroom who prepare your meals for you on a normal basis. Give praise and give thanks.
17. GET EXCITED
With all that being said… this is it. This is your year. This is your last shot to show your high school friends, family, and mentors how much you love them. This is your last time to cut the lunch line because you can. This is your last ride on the smelly, dilapidated school bus with junk food in one hand and your tennis shoes in the other on the ride back home from an away game. This is your last dance with your best guy friend at prom as you quickly switch from romantic Ed Sheeran tunes to bass-booming G-Eazy jams. This is your last time to dream about what it is like to walk across that stage with a diploma in hand. So get excited. Don’t miss a moment.