Senior year of high school is an exciting time full of possibilities! There is a lot to think about in terms of classes, careers, and colleges. It’s an important time to make memories, have fun, and reflect on your plans for your future.

In this article, we will discuss 10 pieces of advice for high school seniors (12th graders). Start your senior year feeling prepared! Know what to expect as you move forward during this pivotal year.

1. Spend time with family and friends

Senior year is an important time to make memories and spend time with the people (and pets!) you love. Regardless of whether or not you decide to go to college, or move away from your hometown, senior year is a big transition. Rely on your loved ones for support as you navigate your senior year. Family members will likely have valuable senior year advice for you as well. Focus on spending quality time with your loved ones, strengthening your relationships, and sharing memories.

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2. Start college applications early

College applications can be stressful. They require a lot of research and reflection – on top of preparing the actual application materials. Some helpful senior year advice: Start your college applications early! Especially your college essay. Brainstorm topics, write several drafts, and seek out feedback from peers, parents, and teachers. This will allow you to take your time to edit your applications materials, prioritize, and limit stress. Be sure to ask for your letters of recommendation early as well. This is an important senior year tip! Teachers can get overwhelmed by the number of requests they receive, so make sure you give them plenty of time to plan ahead.

3. AP classes look good on college applications and can help you save money

AP classes look impressive on your college application. They show that you are capable of completing advanced coursework and are ready for college-level material. If you are applying to highly-selective schools, AP classes give your application a competitive edge. Additionally, if you score well on your AP exams, you will likely receive college credit (check with your individual college for specifics). College credits are expensive, so this will help you save a lot of money in the long-run!

4. Take interesting classes

Take interesting electives. High school is a time to explore, so take this time to try something new! Take a pottery class. Or a robotics class. Chinese. Dance. Painting. You might discover something you really enjoy. You might also choose to take more classes with teachers you already know and love.

5. Learn to balance your social life and academics

While you should enjoy your senior year, spend time with friends, meet new people, and attend events, it’s also important not to slack off. “Senioritis” can feel very real. One of the most important tips for high school seniors is to avoid procrastination and maintain their academic standards. Senior year should be fun, but it’s also an important transition point. Whether you are attending college or entering the workforce, it’s important to feel motivated and prepared for your next step. Learning to balance your social life and academics is key to success, both in and outside of high school.

6. A college rejection letter isn’t the end of the world

Receiving a college acceptance letter is exciting and validating! You should celebrate each and every one. You worked hard and it’s nice to see that hard work recognized. A college rejection letter, however, shouldn’t feel like the end of the world. Colleges can be highly-selective, and not getting accepted into a program doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t qualified; it just means that there is a very large applicant pool. There is a lot of pressure put on you during your senior year and there are lots of tips for high school seniors. Mostly though, it’s important to remember that graduating high school and applying for college is hard work! So try to be gentle with yourself.

7. Talk to your guidance counselor, teachers, and coaches

Ask adults you trust and admire about advice for seniors in high school. What worked for them? Do they wish they had done anything differently? Are they happy with their career? Did they go to college? Senior year is an exciting time with endless possibilities. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Take time to reflect on what’s important to you and what you think you might want to do in the long run. It’s okay if you don’t know! Take a year off to work, travel, or volunteer, and keep in mind that many college students change their majors. You don’t need to know all the answers. It’s good and healthy to periodically change your mind. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to ask your guidance counselor, teachers, or coaches about advice for senior year of high school.

8. Tour colleges

If you have the opportunity to tour a college, take it! You can learn a lot about a college by researching it online, but sometimes seeing it in person can help you make the final call of where you can see yourself being the happiest and most comfortable during college. Tour as many colleges as you can, so you can make your final decision feeling as confident as possible. 

9. Sit in on college classes and job shadow

Not everyone knows what they want to do after college, and many students who think they do, end up changing their minds. Some good advice for seniors in high school is to consider sitting in on some college classes and seeking out job shadowing opportunities. There are countless career paths available, so take some time to research and explore your options. Attend a job fair. Take a career test. Talk to professionals and get a glimpse of what a typical day might look like for you in your prospective field.

10. Try new things

Step out of your comfort zone! Graduate high school without any regrets. Is there a club you’ve always wanted to join? Someone you always wanted to be friends with? A class you’ve been interested in taking? Take a moment to think about whether there is anything you’ve wanted to try, but haven’t had the time, or the nerve, for. High school is a great time to try new things, so challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone!

Key Takeaways

Work hard your senior year and have fun! Take time to reflect on possibilities for your future and seek out additional resources to make smart, post-high school decisions. Ask your peers and trusted adults in your life about your goals and anxieties. If you feel like you could benefit from professional, individualized attention, reach out to learn about our college counseling and guidance services.