What to Do During Your Last Semester of High School: A Checklist

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It’s amazing how quickly high school flies by. One day, you’re trying to decide what clubs to join, and the next you’re walking an aisle to Pomp and Circumstance.

Now that you’re in your final semester of high school, there’s only one significant obstacle lying between now and then: that little matter of final exams. Oh, yes, and college campus visits, hanging out with friends, selecting something to wear to graduation…the list goes on.

But it’s also a time that you’ll look back on for years. So make the most of it!

Here’s your guide to surviving these last few months of high school happy, unscathed and ready for success:

1) Make a Schedule
One of the best skills you can develop in life is the ability to create and stick to a schedule. You can handwrite it on a paper calendar, use Google Calendar or download a smartphone app — whatever is most comfortable and convenient for your lifestyle. 

Map out the next few months by writing all of the things that you can’t change: like exam dates, school vacations and any extracurricular activities you’re committed to. Then find room for studying for exams, writing final papers, etc.

Be strategic about study and rest times. It’s a lot better to plan for short, frequent study sessions than to try to cram everything in the night before the exam. That’s no good for your grades or your health.

2) Focus on the Prize
When you get fatigued, discouraged or anxious, it can help to take a look at the prize for your success.

This is a common tactic outside of school. Athletes take time to visualize successfully crossing the finish line or scoring a goal. Business professionals visualize landing the perfect deal or making an extraordinarily profitable sale. You can visualize a final report card filled with good grades and you arriving at college happy and prepared.

When you need a break from your to-do list, have some fun by planning all the things you’re going to bring to college or look at your college’s Instagram account and imagine your life a year from now. (Follow Bentley’s account: @bentleyu).

3) Pick Your College
Most high school students start hearing back from colleges during this semester (unless you’re one of the lucky ones who was admitted early). Make sure you attend any open houses for admitted students or go for another campus tour. Take to your parents, teachers, guidance counselors, etc.

This is a big decision and you want to make sure it’s the right one for you. Most schools give you until May 1st to make up your mind.

Once you’ve selected your college, make sure you:

  • Send in your deposit
  • Fill out any financial aid paperwork
  • Inform any other colleges you’re turning down

4) Do Something Unexpected

Is there anything on your high school bucket list that you haven’t gotten to yet? Use the spring semester to try something new. Audition for a show, join a new club, go to a school team’s game. Your high school experience isn’t over yet.

5) Avoid Senioritis
Showing up to school and paying careful attention is essential to sailing through the last few months. It gets easier to zone out in classes when you’re exhausted from studying, and spring is always a time that lends to daydreams and thoughts of being outdoors instead of stuck in a stuffy classroom.

Show up. Pay attention. Don’t let your good habits slide as your senior year winds down. If your grades slip too much, there’s always the danger of your college acceptance being rescinded. You’ll have plenty of time for goofing off and enjoying the weather outside when you nab that diploma.

6) Get Psyched About College
Once you’ve figured out where you’re going, start embracing your soon-to-be new home. Stock up on the mandatory college apparel and check the school’s social media accounts incessantly.

7) Don’t Forget About High School
But while you’re brain is envisioning the future, don’t forget about the present. There are lots of amazing milestones during this semester: prom, senior trips, graduation, etc. Enjoy all of them.

8) Leave Time for Friends
The friends you’ve made over the past four years are one of the best parts of high school. You may be going separate ways for college, but you’re together now — so enjoy the time. Grab after-school coffee, stop for sparkly prom dresses, create a must-watch Netflix list.

9) Make New Friends
Is there someone in your high school you’ve always wanted to get to know? Here’s your last chance. Or find out if there’s anyone from your area attending the same college. Meet up occasionally to get to know each other — at least you’ll recognize a few faces when school starts up in the fall.

10) Take on More Responsibilities
This is a good time to practice the life skills you’ll need as you become an adult and go off to college. Master basic things like laundry, budgeting, cooking, simple household repairs, etc. Practice being independent.

11) Research Scholarships
Look around for additional scholarships that you fit and will help pay for college. Some deadlines continue into the spring and summer.

12) Plan Your Summer
What are you up to this summer? Is it time for a vacation with your friends? Do you have a summer job or internship lined up? Save up as much money as you can — you’ll need it for college expenses. Leave time for lazing around too. The next four years are going to be very busy, so rest up while you can.

13) Care for Yourself
Similarly, as final exams and other end-of-high-school obligations start piling on, it’s so tempting to start skipping breakfast, going to bed way too late or overindulging in tempting foods like pizza and potato chips. Caffeine becomes another temptation, either in the form of sodas or coffee, as your poor dietary and sleep habits begin catching up with you.

But these unhealthy habits will make it harder to keep up with the growing workload, retain the information you study and even be pleasant to your family and friends. Make your health and taking care of yourself a top priority during these final weeks as a high school student.

Follow these healthy tips on how to prepare for finals.

14) Take a Bazillion Photos
Flood your Instagram account this semester. Capture all the photos and memories of your last days of high school. When you look back over this time, you’ll be glad you did.

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Bentley University, where your education prepares you for a life of interesting challenges and even more interesting ideas and answers. From your first day on campus, you’ll study what makes the world work – fundamentals of business and markets – AND what the world thinks – the broad perspective of the arts and sciences. It’s a powerful combination with limitless opportunity.