5 tips for surviving senior year

Ciara Curtin, Contributor

cartoon of four students on zoom
Every year, as a Lasso tradition, we publish advice for each grade for the start of the new year, put together by writers who just finished that grade. This year, as we enter our first Block One in Schoology conferences rather than in classrooms, forging new, strange traditions, and reimagining old ones, our advice has changed a little. (Graphic by Ellen Chadwick)

1. Be willing to face and accept the changes and uncertainties of your reality

This is a bizarre time we are in. The effects of the pandemic have taken all unique shapes and sizes in the lives of everyone, and you all as high school seniors are no exception. As a former senior amidst-pandemic, trust me, I get it. It’s hard. It’s not ideal. But the second you realize that this is the reality we all have to deal with and navigate, you’ll be able to move forward. You’ll be able to more easily spot the silver linings.

Another note to that chord: remember that COVID-19 is still very much prevalent. It can be easy to feel like something doesn’t concern you if you aren’t personally affected, but believe it or not, even your affluent, privileged Falls Church bubble is not free from the effects and realities of a pandemic. Public health, safety, the wellbeing of society, and the hope for a better tomorrow must. come. first. I promise you, a party is not important. Seriously. 

2. Continue to ask for help 

I feel like this is advice that is typically given to freshmen or people that are new somewhere, but I think you may do well with a reminder. You’re still a high school student. You are going to need help. I definitely felt like I needed to be more independent when I got to be a senior, that I needed to have it all figured out on my own by that point. But let me let you in on a trade secret: literally no one has it all figured out, and most certainly not on their own. 

Remember the writing lab? Use it. Need some guidance from your teacher for an IA or college app? Email them, stop by their room, schedule an appointment. Forgot how to properly cite certain things? Visit the librarians; they are seriously so knowledgeable and helpful. Feeling overwhelmed? Talk to someone. Remember people are there to support you, to help you succeed. 

3. Just because you’re on Zoom doesn’t mean you can’t zoom

You’re actually on Schoology conferences, but I wanted to do a little wordplay action. Although online school can be weird and difficult, you really should still try. It is certainly easy to lose motivation or run out of steam as a senior in general, yet alone when all of your classes are online (at least for the start). However, there’s still going to be some important stuff for you to do this year, and you don’t want to get behind or let the time slip away from you because of it. Schoolwork, assignments, or other responsibilities certainly fit under this umbrella, but also very importantly, college apps. It can be stressful, but is also totally manageable if you just take it piece-by-piece and start early. So do that! Then you can focus more attention on the things you love and are passionate about, strengthening existing relationships, making new ones, etc.

4. Allow yourself to hit the breaks 

Okay, I know I said “zoom,” as in like…go fast and work hard in the tip above, but everything in balance and moderation. You can’t just be go-go all the time. That is an impossible lifestyle. And I know FCCPS and Falls Church can sort-of cultivate this honestly very unhealthy culture of competition, of working and overworking yourself into the ground. But it’s an unattainable standard because the goal post will always feel like it’s moving, which will lead you to just never slow down and always feel tired. Be gentle with yourself and remember to take a breath. 

(Sidenote: getting too little sleep is NOT a badge of honor! It is wildly unhealthy! I’m super stoked for you if you have a rocksolid SAT score or Common App resume, but no one cares! Don’t ask, don’t tell! Let the world know what your post-high school plans are once you have them if you’d like, but please don’t show me a photo of every single acceptance letter you receive. Deal?). 

Curtin’s fifth tip for senior year is to bucket-list your time. (Graphic by Ellen Chadwick)

5. Bucket-list your time

This is a very special time. Try to enjoy it. Enjoy the people you have with you at this time. It can be very sad or hard to think about, but many of them you’ll likely never see again after this year – don’t take that for granted. Savor it all. Remember to be safe, but try to do those things you’ve always wanted to do but never got a chance to. Write a note to that teacher you couldn’t have survived without; go to their office hours and let them know how much they mean to you. Go get takeout from Mike’s for lunch during school, even when school is online. Become friends with that person you’ve always wanted to get closer to. Visit the old Mason before it’s gone for good.

In any case, enjoy as much as you can, even the tough stuff, trust yourself, and know how supported and loved you are. You got this, Class of 2021. 

Ciara Curtin is a 2020 Mason graduate. In her time at GMHS, she served as Student Body President and was a member of the theater program.