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Prioritizing During Senior Year



Senior year can tend to get hectic: trying to maintain an excellent GPA, ace standardized tests, participate in extracurricular activities, and apply to universities all at once as you attempt to uphold your mental sanity.


All formalities aside, senior year is both the best and worst time of your life (thus far). You can tone down the negative portion, though, if you learn to prioritize early in your first semester (or even in the summer before it starts) to give yourself leverage for when things get really intense.  


To be able to do so successfully you need to think a number of things through:


  • Which extracurricular activities are you willing to give up this year? Which ones do you wish to stay enrolled in? Keeping in mind:

    How they may contribute to your major

    How much they mean to you/How happy they make you (don’t give something up simply because it seemingly has no significance to your academic future).

    If you want to continue doing something like this in university

  • Which schools are you most interested in enrolling in?

  • Which applications have similar essay prompts?

  • Which ones have different essay prompts that you can answer with the same essay?

  • What personality traits are you most proud of? What situations have you gone through that SHOW so you don’t have to try to tell this to the admissions officers.

  • I would advise going through the prompts of all the schools you definitely want to apply to and linking prompts with common answers, essays that would be easy to punch out and get out of the way quickly, and type up one-sentence-idea plans for each essay so you’re not lost when you get to it.

  • Hopefully by this stage you would have sat for your standardized tests at least once (but if you haven’t don’t stress it!). Most importantly, sit for your SAT reasoning exam up to three times (if you get a score you’re satisfied with before that, then even less—keep in mind that many schools will take your best score out of each section), or the ACT if that’s your preferred method of testing. The TOEFL is offered far more frequently than the SAT, so I would advise you sign up for Collegeboard’s exams (SAT I,  IIs, and APs) before your TOEFL, but make sure to get to it in a timely fashion. SAT IIs and APs are not required for many schools, so make sure reasoning is your priority.

  • Throughout this whole process make sure to enroll in courses you can handle at school if you have flexible schedules (you don’t need to sign up for every AP your school offers, nor do you need to take every last science course). If you don’t have the choice, make sure you manage your time in  a sufficient manner: put time aside for applications, make sure that school comes before other activities, and most importantly, take time off to relax.

  • It could come in handy to attempt to finish each application a month before its deadline: this way you can give yourself time off to come back to your essays and look at them from another angle, you have plenty of time to share your essays with others for extra advice without crunching them on time, and you’re also free to then work on other matters instead of cramming all your essays the night before/of the application deadline.

  • My last piece of advice would be not to sacrifice all your free time for the sake of applications and school. Enjoy senior year, application process and all. 

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