Summer is in full swing, but your senior year is fast approaching. You may have heard horror stories about hectic senior years – and while some of the causes of senior year stress are unavoidable, there are certainly things you can begin to do this summer that will help your final year of high school go a bit more smoothly.

High School Senior working on homework

Begin Preparing for Your Post-Secondary Life Now. “What? Now?” Yes, now! Most students find that their senior year flies by and they have very little time to get to all the things they intended. While you should enjoy your final summer as a high schooler and do lots of fun stuff, if you begin getting ready for life after high school early, you will be relieved later when your senior year gets busy.

If you are planning to go to college immediately after high school, you may find it helpful to begin:

  • Seriously researching and deciding which colleges you would like to apply to.

Many colleges open their application cycles in the fall or spring of your senior year. While you won’t be able to apply until then, having a list of colleges you would like to apply to will make the application process a lot smoother.

If you already have a list and are considering many different colleges, now would also be a good time to research further and narrow down your college choices.

  • Searching for scholarships.

Although you will have the best window for finding scholarships from the fall through early spring of your senior year, you can begin researching scholarships now. A good place to begin your search is on the websites of the colleges you are interested in: many colleges list “in-house” scholarships on their websites, usually under “financial aid”. Additionally, you may be able to find scholarships or grants available through your major(s) of interest, hobbies, or even organizations with whom you have volunteered.

If you are able to find out what some of those scholarships require, you can help yourself out by gathering necessary materials and drafting essays (both of which will save you time and make the scholarship application process easier). You might be able to reuse some of your essays for your college applications, which would also save you some time.

Check out a past EducationQuest blog about scholarships here, and learn more about ways you can find scholarships here.

Whether you plan to go to college immediately, wait a year, or not go at all, you may also find it useful to:

  • Research job shadowing opportunities.

On top of being able to experience first-hand what a job in your field(s) of interest might entail, job shadowing looks great on a résumé or college application and gives you the opportunity to network. Even if you decide that you are actually not interested in that career after you see what it’s like, it’s great to have the experience so that you know ahead of time that it isn’t the right fit for you.

  • Get involved with volunteer opportunities.

Akin to job shadowing, volunteering may give you the opportunity to explore fields related to the career you are interested in – but don’t feel compelled to only volunteer in those fields. There are so many volunteerism opportunities available, including opportunities at animal shelters, hospitals, schools, and homeless shelters. Volunteering will not only bolster your résumé, but will also help you feel more fulfilled as an individual in giving back to your community.

The best thing you can do to decrease your senior year stress in advance is to avoid procrastination and begin preparing for things ASAP. If you can find time to pursue even one of the above suggestions, you should find some of your senior year stress alleviated.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the college planning process, check out our Junior/Senior Timelineor contact your nearest EducationQuest office.