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Teen Talks: The Challenges of Senior Year

When I was in ninth grade, all I could think about was what my senior year would be like. I wondered how I would change and how life would be, especially since the pandemic began in March of that same year. I was somewhat scared because teenagers on YouTube and in television shows made senior year seem so challenging. In their defense, it is. This school year has been one of the most challenging that I have ever encountered. I knew it would get tough balancing school with college applications, but I never expected it to be this hard.

At my school, we have the privilege of having a half day. We leave school after the second period to attend internships, dual enrollment, or work. For me, I am in a dual enrollment program, which essentially allows me to take college courses at a nearby community college. With this opportunity, I was granted my half day, and I only have three classes: Advanced Placement (AP) Literature, AP Calculus, and AP Chemistry. Was it smart to take all AP classes my senior year? Maybe, maybe not, but I’ve taken AP classes every year without any trouble. 

However, this year my classes consist of lengthy assignments that pile up over time, in addition to my dual enrollment college courses. I’ve never been the type to wait until the last minute to get work done, but some days I feel that I experience academic burnout. Nevertheless, I still manage to do my best because I look forward to how this will help and reward me later in life.

The college application season is the most stressful period of life that I have ever experienced. To add to it, I decided to apply for early action instead of regular, which meant that I had to write all my essays and submit my documents by October 15th. I had to request recommendation letters, write my personal college essay, and fill out the very lengthy profile information on Common App. I wish that I had taken college preparations more seriously in my junior year, as it would have lightened the load. In addition to your personal essay, some colleges might require you to answer short answer questions with a maximum or minimum of 250 words or 650 characters. However, if you are trying to decide whether or not to apply for early action, I highly recommend that you do. I also recommend that you don’t wait until the last minute to start working on your applications. With early action, you are notified of your acceptance earlier, and you don’t have to wait until March or April to find out.

As I near the mid-way point of my senior year, reflecting on the journey from that wide-eyed ninth-grader to the present, I realize the depth of the challenges and growth I've experienced.  Senior year, with its whirlwind of demanding courses, daunting college applications, and the unanticipated weight of responsibility, has been an odyssey unlike any other.  Balancing a rigorous academic schedule, including AP courses and dual enrollment, has demanded more than just time management.  It's tested my perseverance and taught me the value of staying committed to my goals, even amid moments of academic burnout.

To those who will tread this path after me, I offer a few lessons learned. Embrace the power of early action, but don't underestimate the preparation it demands. Take time to nurture relationships with mentors and teachers for recommendation letters and start drafting those essays early. These steps can alleviate the weight of the process, offering clarity and a head start on your future.

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