The prospect of graduating high school and heading off to college is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. Luckily, there are lots of people who have done it before that can give you advice.

1. Work Hard Your Last Year of High School
You finally made it to senior year, and you’re already looking forward to graduation and starting life as a college student. But your work isn’t over. As tempting as it may be to fully embrace the “Senior Slide” or catch “Senioritis” there are two big reasons you should work just as hard, if not harder, your senior year than the rest of high school.

First, your senior year of academics is still graded, which means it goes on your transcript.  Some colleges are in the habit of checking in on your senior year grades. And some groups that give out scholarships tend to check in on your senior year academics. While it might be fun to glide through your last year of high school, you still need to stay committed to your academics in order to impress the people who might be looking.

Another, more tangible, reason to stay focused is because it keeps you ready for the more intense workload you’ll be hit with in college.  College homework is different than high school homework. You have to be much more independently organized, because you don’t have the same class schedule every single day. Beyond that, college professors are much less likely to continually remind you to do your homework or accept it if it’s late. If you allow yourself to take an academic break for a year, it becomes that much more difficult to get back in the swing of it, especially when the homework is harder.

(Side note: You might be able to tell I’m a teacher by how much I care about this.)

2. It’s Okay if You and Your Friends Go to Different Colleges
It may not seem like it, but it’s going to be okay. One of my biggest pieces of advice to high school students looking at colleges is don’t choose a school based on the people who are or are not going there. That applies to friends and significant others alike. Advice everyone gives you, I know. But it’s advice everyone gives because it’s true. The prospect of being miles away from the people closest to you can be utterly petrifying. But that’s what college is all about. Venturing into the unknown with your head held high, ready to make the best of whatever life throws at you.

When you go to college, that is where you are going to be able to meet some of the best people in your life.  They didn’t see you at your awkward stages growing up, so all they have to go on is who you are now.  If you choose a college based on a bestie or significant other, you may miss out on these amazing people.  While I totally understand how nice it would be to have a person you are comfortable with at your side all the time, it can limit you from really branching out and trying to meet new people.  However, this isn’t saying you can’t be friends with your high school group if you do end up at the same college, I’m just saying, don’t make your choices based off of them.

3. You Don’t Have to Know What You Want to Be
I can guarantee that you will get sick of people asking you what you’re going to school for. You’ll feel an overwhelming pressure to know, and you might, but you might not. And that’s okay. Deciding what to study in college is a huge decision, and you don’t want to rush in to something you aren’t passionate about. Don’t feel like you need to know going in, you still have time to decide. When you start college, a lot of the classes are general classes that everyone has to take, so you have a built-in time buffer.

Your passions might change in your first year of college.  I have so many friends who changed their major going into their second year of school because who they thought they were, and what they thought they wanted totally changed.  And that is perfectly okay, normal even. So if you aren’t sure what you want to do, don’t stress.

I know that as a high school senior the last thing you want is another person who’s older than you giving you advice. But if I could give you one last thing to think about, it would be to take it. You may not think you need it now, but someday you’ll be glad to have it.

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