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Senior year: How to stay motivated and finish strong

For high school seniors, the last year will be the time of your life -- but remember, that year is going to go by quickly. Here's how to stay focused.

There’s no denying the fact that for most high school students, senior year is the best — and most fun — year of high school. It’s also the most highly anticipated. After three long years, the next chapter of life is near and all of life is ahead.

Don’t forget prom, the last high school homecoming game and other special privileges that come along with being in the 12th grade. Considering all of this, there’s no wonder that a feeling of excitement is felt amongst rising high school seniors.                                               

However, if you’re beginning your senior year, then you may be beginning to reach the realization that while it can be fun, it can also be very stressful.

Along with the great games and events come college applications, more standardized testing for many and what seems like more homework than ever. It can be challenging to find motivation and stay on track with goals and also have fun, but it doesn’t have to be.             

Below are some tips to help you maintain motivation during the year and end things on a good note.

Think long term, not short term

It’s easy to lose track of the big picture this year. We can get so caught up in the present that it’s impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is definitely there.                             

The work done now will pay off. Sometimes, you may have to forgo a night at the movies to catch up on homework, but ask yourself what’s more important: your future or one night?

It’s not always easy to keep yourself from slacking off, but anything worth having is never easy. You may have to frequently remind yourself why you’re doing this, which is to reach your dream job or lifestyle, or whatever it is you are working toward to stay motivated.

Remember that senior year is just that: a year. After that, there’s college (if you choose to go), your career and even greater things. It may be difficult, but this year won’t last forever, and the temporary struggle is worth it. Finish strong.

Tackling procrastination

With senioritis reaching a fever pitch for many high school seniors, procrastination seems almost inevitable.

Yes, it is easy (and often fun) to just do something else instead of what you know you should be doing. But do you know what’s not fun? Staying up until 2 a.m. scrambling to finish a project that could’ve been done during daylight hours if you’d only done it sooner.

Important tasks such as college applications should especially be done in increments. College applications are arguably the most important thing that we will do this year; they lead to the next step in life. It’s so vital to spend quality time on the applications, and the best way to do this is to do it in small increments. Pulling an all-nighter for several applications at once will never work. Do yourself a favor and make a calendar of some sort (it doesn’t have to be fancy – they have them at dollar stores!) to schedule specific times to complete certain tasks.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Whatever you do, do not be afraid to ask for help, especially from your counselors. They want to help you succeed, and we as students often forget how resourceful counselors are for things such as scholarships, college advice and mentorship. Visit your counselor at the beginning of the year – so, right now – and check in to make sure you’re doing everything you should be.

Another reason to schedule those visits? Most likely, your counselor will have to write a letter of recommendation for you for college. Your rec letter will be ten times better if you actually have a relationship with the counselor and make an effort to talk to them.                        

­Lastly, have fun. Take time for yourself to do things you enjoy. Academics are important, but so is keeping yourself sane.

From one slightly stressed out senior to another, here’s to a school year filled with excitement and achievement and a whole lot less of Red Bull and sleepless nights.

Good luck this year!

Ashleigh Garrison is a senior at International Academy in Troy. She has written for the Detroit Free Press and is the author of “Dodgeball Mystery.

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