8 Ways to Balance School, College, and a Social Life Your Senior Year
Senior Year Is, By Far, The Most Exciting Year For High School Students...
However, senior year also just so happens to be the busiest year for high school students. With the excitement of graduation, end-of-year activities, and final exam preparations looming over everyone’s minds, how can a student possibly juggle it all at once?
While your schedule for your senior year may seem overwhelming right now, there are plenty of ways that you can find balance in your normal schoolwork, college prep, and your social life. Keep reading to learn about all the tasks that you can start preparing for now, and end your senior year on a strong note.
The Juggling Act That Is Senior Year
During your first two or three years of high school, students usually have a small list of important responsibilities that require their full attention like normal classes, sports practices, band rehearsals, and other activities. However, once you become a senior, that all changes.
All of a sudden, you have AP classes, college applications, and a much busier social life. If this is relatable for you, it’s important that you remember that no human being can give their full attention to multiple things at once; for students, attempting to do this will only leave you burnt out, which is the last place you want to be during your last year of high school.
Seniors have to juggle some, if not most, of the following priorities:
- Normal schoolwork/homework
- AP or Honors classes
- Competitive sports
- Extracurricular activities
- Honor societies
- College applications
- Social life
- Personal hobbies or projects
It’s easy to see how so many seniors struggle with finding a balance between so many duties and interests! If you’re approaching your senior year, try to avoid filling up your plate with too many responsibilities.
Remember that less really is more when it comes to being productive. You may think that a large amount of involvement on your college application will be impressive, but in reality, you may risk showing a lack of focus. Keep your schedule simple, and you’ll be less likely to become overwhelmed and unable to find a healthy balance in your responsibilities.
8 Tips For Balancing School, College, And Your Social Life
To employ a balanced system into your daily routine, you just need to get into the right mindset. A great place to start would be to ask yourself, “What is absolutely necessary in my schedule?”
By ridding your plate of responsibilities that ultimately won’t serve you and your goals in the end, you’ll find that balance actually comes naturally when you only have priorities that you genuinely care about.
MAKE A PLAN
Physically write down everything you need to accomplish for your normal schoolwork, and this includes any upper-level classes like AP and IB. Next, write down your tasks to complete for college applications, and finally, make a separate list for any extra responsibilities like keeping up with your social life or extracurricular activities.
By dividing your priorities like this, you can clearly see what needs attention first. Everyday as you’re working, you can look at your plan for productivity and start tasks based on their importance.
KEEP A CALENDAR
Next to your plan, you’ll need to keep important dates and deadlines in mind; this is especially helpful for your college application to-do list. A calendar will be incredibly helpful for keeping you on track with important dates.
A calendar can also help you compartmentalize what needs to get done each day. For example, if your homework for a class is due two days before a big project, you know that you need to have that homework finished first; worrying about the project can come later.
Calendars also help students focus on taking one day at a time. Too often, students will get caught up looking ahead at the next few days and get overwhelmed thinking about all the work they have to do. Invest in a planner or pocket calendar that only lets you see one day at a time. This way, you can stay focused on your tasks at hand.
Don’t forget to schedule time for fun and rest too! Breaks are absolutely necessary to your success, so be sure to plan out some fun activities for yourself to give your brain a rest.
When you get into a rhythm and you start to see your productivity, it can be tempting to just keep going. Avoid this urge, and force yourself to take breaks. You may feel super productive now, but eventually, your system is going to need a rest from reading and looking at a computer screen. Rest is the only way to truly refresh your system, so don’t skip out on this vital part of the balance you’re trying to establish!
TALK WITH FRIENDS
Maintaining your community and high school social life is absolutely vital for every student’s mental health. Make sure that you’re not spending all your time alone; call your friends and make an effort to keep in touch with them. This can be especially helpful when you reach tasks that you don’t feel motivated to do. Use your friends as sounding boards, ask them for help, and vent to them if you need to. Get that frustration off your shoulders, laugh about it, and then get the task done.
Working with friends can also make the time go by faster; organize study sessions, swap college essays, and offer to help them with any of their projects to get your mind off of your own. The more you help each other, the more camaraderie you’ll build and the more supported you will feel.
Self-care for high school students can seem like a luxury, but physical and mental health is an extremely important part of every student’s senior year. Aim to make self-care a priority! Join a local sports team for fun to get exercise and get you out of your house. Studies have shown that physical activity stimulates the brain and helps people be more productive.
If sports aren’t your thing, set aside time to go outside and get some fresh air. Go for drives or walks, and get in a light workout any chance you get. Taking care of your body automatically takes care of your mind too, so don’t skimp out on self-care!
When you're making your plan and you find that your list of things to do is growing without stopping, it may be time to reach out to a counselor. Having a second pair of eyes look at your priorities and ask you different questions could widen your perspective and help you prioritize a little bit better. A counselor is such a vital tool for students and it can take away a lot of the stress you may be feeling about senior year.
WeAdmit’s professional counselors exist for this very reason; we can look at all your concerns for senior year and help you remove anything from your plate that may inhibit you from giving your full effort on your college applications.
FOLLOW YOUR PASSIONS
As you’re navigating your senior year and begin to fall into a rhythm, don’t forget about your passions. You may have had to put certain activities on hold because of the busyness of senior year; if at all possible, try to reconnect to those things that drive you, even if that means just a little bit of involvement every weekend.
By keeping your passions plugged into your busy life, you’ll allow them to guide you when your schedule gets busier. Whenever you start to forget why you started applying for college in the first place or why you have certain goals established, your passion will always be there to remind you.
While you may be looking for any kind of activity that doesn’t take place at your school because you spend enough time there anyways, participating in a club for an activity you genuinely enjoy could benefit you in more ways than you know. They’ll look really good on a college application, too!
Whatever your passion is, whether it be music, art, reading, writing, or anything else of that nature, don’t neglect those unless you deem it absolutely necessary.
During your senior year, times will come where you feel a little overwhelmed or burnt out. When those moments happen, it’s so important that you don’t panic. These responses to your workload are completely normal, and after all, you are human! Give yourself some grace and move forward.
Every student goes through this at some point in their academic career, so as long as you just keep going with the tiniest bit of effort that you can muster up, you’re still moving towards the finish line. You may not feel productive some days, but trust that you’re one day closer to college and you’re doing your best to enjoy the last bit of high school you have.
Mastering The Balancing Act
Like any great skill, mastery is only possible with practice. As you begin your senior year and you start experimenting with different ways to balance your schedule, leave yourself room for change and improvement. Make sure that you do all the basics of balance like prioritizing and compartmentalizing, and you’ll have a strong foundation you can build on. Along the way, you’ll discover different methods that work for you, and that’s okay! Be open to new things and don’t count any possibilities out just because they’re surprises.
Most of all, have a good attitude. You’d be surprised how a positive mentality can totally change the way you approach balancing social life. When you hit unexpected bumps in the road, remember your passions and goals, and you’ll find yourself back on your feet in no time; and, if you’re really stuck, consider reaching out to one of our professional counselors. We’re here to help you thrive, both in high school and beyond!
You Can Start And End Senior Year On A Strong Note; All You Have To Do Is Find That Balance!
5 Strategies for Applying to College After a Gap Year
Applying to college after a gap year won't be a problem as long as you have a plan.
The Perfect College Application Essay: Topics, Prompts, and Tips
At Their Most Basic, College Admissions Essays Are Personal Statements That Students Write In Order To Complete Their Application And Apply To College.