Take it From a Senior
By Kelsey Coates, Arundel High School Senior
January 15, 2016
Senior year is an absolute roller coaster; it’s a constant battle between excitement for the future and fear of letting go of what will soon be the past. Mostly, senior year is a tangible shift into adulthood. I think this is the year when your mindset really changes. You start planning for college and what will come after college and your whole future unfolds before your eyes. It’s like a switch turns on: all of a sudden you’re thinking seriously about which of your passions you would like to pursue, financial stability, and lifelong careers. It’s scary, really, to think that in a few years you’ll be a college graduate who is beginning to create a life of his or her own. So yes, it is thrilling to be graduating high school but still daunting to be starting a new chapter in life.
My biggest fear for college is if I’ll be able to adjust to the new atmosphere. I ask myself: Will I make new friends quickly? How challenging will the academics be? How will I pay for tuition? What about money on a day-to-day basis- like if I’m hungry or run out of deodorant or something? But at the same time, those very fears make me excited for my college experience. It will be interesting to make friends out of the hundreds of new people there on campus. And, maybe the classes will be difficult, but that creates an opportunity to push myself to new limits. And sure it will be hard not to call my parents for my every need like I’m used to, but that’s the only way to develop independence. I know that even if I don’t acclimate myself to campus life right away, it gives me the chance to grow and develop on my own.
One of the most import decisions regarding college is your major. It has to be something you’re passionate about and something you’re ready to pursue for a long-term career. I will be majoring in environmental science: natural resource conservation because I want to create a more sustainable earth for generations to come. I discovered the lively beauty of the outdoors at a very young age and would do anything to protect it. A career that conserves the Earth for future generations is not only something that I’m deeply passionate about, but something that the Earth and it's people need.
Preparing for College
In my opinion, finding a school with a strong program for your major is the first step to picking a college. You can find schools with your major just by Googling it or using the Collegeboard website. Collegeboard is also helpful with connecting you to schools. If you sign up to receive emails about colleges when you take the PSAT or on the Collegeboard website, then Collegeboard will flood your inbox with schools you might be interested in. If you decide you are interested in those schools, the schools make it easy for you to get more information from them. The emails give you direct contacts in the admissions office to find about the school’s majors, costs, location, size, extra-curricular activities, visits or anything else you need to know.
If you interact with these schools enough (requesting more information, calling or emailing), they sometimes waive your application fee if you decide to apply there, and if you are accepted, they make you a top priority for scholarships. I personally found out about most of the schools I applied to from the Collegeboard emails. I decided if I was interested in them based on major first (of course), then whether their costs were reasonable for my family or not, how far away from home they were located, and their size. I knew I wanted to focus on the environment, stay within a certain budget, stay on the East coast and go to a small-medium sized college with smaller classes. I applied to several schools, but narrowed my list down to five favorites. I have recently been accepted to some of the schools at the top of my list so my next step is to visit the campuses and see if I can picture myself learning and living there. Picking a college is a difficult decision so my best advice is to be true to yourself and make sure the college you choose offers you everything that you want to gain out of this next phase of your life.
One of the benefits of applying to the schools that email you is that they are likely to offer you scholarships (when/if you apply early). I have been offered academic scholarships from some of the schools that I was connected with through Collegboard. I also found about scholarships from my high school’s website, where they list several scholarships and tell students how to apply for them. The guidance counselors at my high school even email me personally if they feel I specifically fit the criteria/demographic a scholarship is focused on. But like anything else, an easy way to find about scholarships that are available is to Google them! The internet provided me with some helpful insight about this whole process when I felt so clueless.
It’s hard to relate to the daily thoughts and feeling of a senior until you are one. You’re a teenager trying to make very mature decisions. It’s a confusing, emotional time, and the emotions you feel are not always joyful. However, the feeling of stepping out into the next phase of your life - stepping into a phase of growth, independence and maturity - is absolutely amazing, take it from a senior.