How to Get Ready for Senior Year: Preparing for 12th Grade

Padya Paramita

How to Get Ready for Senior Year: Preparing for 12th Grade

If you’re currently a rising senior in high school, the summer is a crucial time for self-reflection and planning. You have two very important semesters ahead of you, starting with the fall. Alongside balancing your usual classes and activities, you’ll also have to gear up for writing your essays, wrapping up on standardized tests, and applying to colleges. As a result, you may be wondering how to get ready for senior year in the most productive way possible.

Although college applications aren’t due until November at the earliest — there are things you can do during the summer to make sure that you don’t struggle to balance classes and applications. To guide you through how to get ready for senior year, I’ve gone over different ways to prepare yourself so that you don’t fall behind during the next few crucial months of your time in high school.

Stay Organized

Staying organized is a crucial first step as you figure out how to get ready for senior year. Since you’ve got so much to keep track of, get yourself a planner or a calendar that you can use throughout 12th grade. If you don’t use one already, know that writing down things down can help you stay on top of everything, as well as prevent you from overbooking yourself. Plus, calendars allow you to set aside time for particular tasks — such as keeping two to three hours a day open for completing your homework and other assignments. When that time arrives, make sure you’re entirely focused. Don’t go on Instagram when you’re supposed to be studying for the SAT!

Staying organized can also include downloading study apps that might add to your productivity, such as note taking apps, language learning tools, and meditation guides. If your school has announced online classes for the semester, make sure you’ve got a workspace that has minimal distractions and ensures that you can focus properly. 

Check Where You Stand in Terms of Numbers

Since the upcoming semester is when you’ll be applying to college, as you think about how to get ready for senior year, you must also analyze your GPA and class rank. Colleges highly value your academic performance, and if you believe there’s a particular subject or class where you need to work harder, use the time before 12th grade to determine what that is. Plus, if you strive to perform better in your classes, admissions officers will appreciate the upward trajectory.

Similarly, take a look at your SAT scores if you have them. Although most top schools have gone test optional due to COVID-19, the College Board plans to restart in person test administrations every month in 2020 starting in August. So, if you have already started studying and you want to take the test and apply to college with a high score, continue working towards this goal.  

Think About Your Extracurricular Activities

Although you might think that the start of senior year is a little too late to join a club, if you haven’t pursued any leadership positions, or you want to go further, take the summer to reflect on what you can do to boost your profile with the time you’ve got left. Even though most leadership positions at clubs in your school may have been filled, you can expand beyond club offerings at school. Consider what you’re most interested in and how you can take it a step further. If you’re interested in writing for example, polish your drafts and submit to literary magazines and journals to see if you can get published. If you’re planning to study economics or business, why not get started on your own entrepreneurial career? Think about what your community needs and how you can step up and take steps that demonstrate your interests and can intrigue colleges. 

Finalize Your College List

Hopefully by now, you’ve got a general idea of the kinds of college you want to apply to. As you think about how to get ready for senior year, part of preparing for 12th grade includes creating a short list. Think about what you look for in an ideal university, as you will be spending the next four years there. Consider academic programs, resources, research facilities, housing options, diversity among other factors that might be important to you. Once you’ve done your research, your list to make sure you have a good balance of reach, fit, and safety colleges to maximize your chances. 

Once you’ve got your list of schools, use the schools’ requirements to plan out your senior year. Do the colleges you’ve got your eyes on need a certain number of foreign language requirements? Do you fit the number of math or English classes needed for your choice of major? Colleges will check whether you’ve fulfilled the criteria as well as whether you’ve challenged yourself with the most difficult courses available to you, so you must continue doing so.

Finish Up With Your Common Application & Your Personal Statement

The Common Application is the most popular centralized application system and it is used to apply to over 900 member colleges. The portal opens early August. The summer before 12th grade could be a great time to make an account and start filling out your profile — including your basic information, courses you’ve taken, what your future plans are etc. 

If you’re applying to one or more of the colleges on the Common App, you’ll also have to write a personal statement within 650 words to let schools know who you are. You should have found a topic over the summer. As you think about how to get ready for senior year, keep in mind that you’ll be going through multiple drafts of your essay in the upcoming semester. Start working on your first few drafts now. Your essay should tell a story unique to you. Think about what you can talk about that no one else can. 

Get Necessary Supplies

Summer is a great time to start making sure you’ve got everything you need so that you won’t be rushed to go to the store to buy a textbook the day before you need it for class. A typical high school supplies list for rising seniors includes:

  • Binders
  • Notebooks
  • Stationery (including pens, pencils, ruler, eraser, highlighters etc.)
  • Textbooks
  • Water bottle
  • SAT prep books if needed
  • College guides such as the Fiske Guide
  • Post-its
  • Planner

Getting things ready now will save you time by the time classes roll around. This way you can spend less time stressing about what you don’t have, and instead focus on completing your assignments on time.

The query of how to get ready for senior year cannot be answered with just one step. If you’ve got your eyes on a top college, and you wish to succeed in the upcoming year, make sure you’ve got all your fronts covered from knowing which colleges you’re applying to and and planning the essay that can help you actually be admitted. The summer is a key time, don’t take it lightly. Good luck!

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