When I look ahead, time seems to stretch so long, but looking back, freshman year seems like yesterday. I even remember vividly in 5th grade, during social studies class at Salemwood Middle School, we watched a video, and while we were supposed to be watching it, I was daydreaming. I was thinking about the future, about how I was so jealous that the class of 2010 was finally done with was getting to go to college, while I was just starting middle school. Forget high school graduation, graduating middle school seemed to be so far off in the distance.
Before I knew it, 8th grade was upon me. I was finally at the top of food chain, at least in middle school. The concept of high school did not even feel real until the end of 8th grade, when we had to fill out the electives sheet for what we wanted to take at Malden High School. Then came the actual 8th grade graduation, and I still remember the fact that they played the song Hall of Fame by The Script ft. will.i.am when they handed us the certificate of curriculum completion for the Salemwood class of 2013. Now, whenever I think about middle school, I’m reminded of that song, and whenever I hear that song, I remember middle school.
The odd thing about freshman year is, after being at the metaphorical, aforementioned “top of the food chain,” freshman year of high school just drops you back to the bottom. Though, it did feel like a fresh start, a chance to reinvent myself from my middle school self. I was still a kid, but now I was (slightly) more mature. It was a new environment though, and it took a while to get used to. I’d like to say I got used to it quick, but in reality the truth is probably that senior year is when things finally start to make sense.
Right when you feel comfortable in high school, the idea of college starts looming ahead, like that spot on your back that you just can’t quite reach, even though you want to scratch it really bad. It begins toward the end of junior year, when the college is starting to be mentioned by guidance counselors and family members. That when you start giving serious thought on what you want to do with your life. This stage starts at the end of junior year, but it really depends on the person on when it really ends.
Before you may even have decided on a path, you will have to, especially if you are college-bound, take either the SATs or the ACTs, neither of which are fun. These will be just like the practice tests that you take freshman and sophomore year, but harder, and actually matters (the practices are important, but the real deal is of course the most important) as these are the ones that you will send to your colleges to judge you by (amongst other submitted materials). Most likely, you will also have to take them more than once, just so you can get the best grades that you possibly can, if only to increase your chances at getting into college by even 0.1%.
Then starts the college visit process, which is meant to help you see what colleges you like and do not like by giving letting you see for yourself the schools that you may or may not apply to. It’s tedious, but important because, this step may really help you see if you should even spend the money to apply there and possibly go there.
Once senior year rolls around, the college application process is now upon you. It is a tedious, confusing, and annoying thing that you either maneuver through along, with parents, or with outside help like the uAspire and guidance counselors. Financial aid is also a part of this time, and the sooner the better, because once this step is done, all that is left is the waiting game. The waiting game is the nerve-wracking part where you wait and see if a college is willing to take a chance on you. Even if rejections come, you got to push on through and acceptances will come. Once you have decided, a deposit has to be sent, which tell the college, “I choose you!”
The things that makes senior year so stressful is not just the college process, it is the fact that it is on top of the idea that this is your final year. There is so many thing to think about and pay for. There’s finding a prom date, outfit, paying for prom tickets, figuring out how you’re going to get there and how much it will cost to get there, and that’s just for prom. Then there’s also paying for the yearbook, cap and gown, paying and studying for AP tests, finals, etc. On top of all that, classes are still happening, so you still should be paying attention and doing your best to do well, lest your grade suffers, and there’s a slight possibly your colleges rescind your acceptances depending on the rest of senior year’s performance.
All of that and yet, we, the Class of 2017, made it. It’s senior year, and we’ll be done soon. What I said at the start of this whole piece, only came to me recently, when I realized just how far I had come. 18 years went by fast, and while the next 18 may seem so far off in the distance. This time, I know, it is not, so I better make the best of my life that I can, and I hope the rest of you do too.