High School Seniors: Preparing for Your Next Step After High School

Randall Hansen
by Randall Hansen   Career Advice Expert 
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Your senior year in high school is a wonderful time, with students filled with a wide range of emotions, expectations, and plans. Senior year is a time spent reflecting back on all those years in the classroom while looking ahead to new adventures of work or college. Senior year is also about making plans and decisions, and that’s where this article can help you.

Senior year is also about making plans and decisions.

This article is about helping you manage and make the transition from high school to college. Taking the advice in this article will make you a better person and a more prepared student — and will help make all those college plans and dreams come to fruition. Following these seven tips will help lead you to success from high school to college — and beyond.

Tip 1: Don’t Stop at High School

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, slightly more than three in every five high school graduates continue on to college (with young women doing so at a slightly higher rate than young men).

Tip 2: Finalize College Plans

The fall of your senior year is the time to finalize the list of colleges and universities that seem best suited for your needs. You’ll want to spend time with your family, friends, and guidance counselor in paring down (or developing) your list of the best schools for you in terms of the criteria you deem most important.

Tip 3: Avoid Senioritis and the Senior Slump

There’s a common misconception that once you’ve made it to your senior year — and especially once you’ve been accepted by colleges — that senior grades don’t matter. But colleges do request and review senior grades, especially from the first half of the school year. Be forewarned, though, that if you let your grades slip anytime during the year, colleges have the right to ask you to document and explain why your current grades have dropped below previous years.

If you let your grades slip anytime during the year, colleges have the right to ask you to document and explain why your current grades have dropped below previous years.

Continue to take pride in your grades and continue to attempt your best. Some studies report that high school seniors who lost interest in high school because of a “senior slump” also had problems in college because they had lost interest and devalued the importance of education. And you don’t ever want to face the worst-case scenario: not graduating high school because you are short one credit because you failed some elective course.

Tip 4: Keep Challenging Yourself

While senior year might seem the right time to load up on those electives you’ve been dying to take instead of advanced or honors classes, you might want to hold off on taking too many easy electives. Many colleges recommend that your senior year should be designed to best prepare you for your first year in college, and some of the more selective schools may downgrade your application if you ease up on the challenging courses.
Studies also show that students who continue to take advanced courses in the sciences, math, foreign languages, or English during their senior year are better prepared and perform better in related college courses. Another benefit is that you may be able to earn college credits for some of the courses you take — or through the your scores from the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP).

Tip 5: Stay Involved

If you’ve been involved in various social clubs, actively volunteered with local agencies, or have been involved in the community in other ways, don’t stop now just because it’s your senior year or because you no longer need to do it to impress the colleges and universities. Make a lifelong commitment to give back to your community. You’ll be helping others, making an impact on people’s lives — and you’ll feel the better for it. And volunteering also helps you gain important career skills — and can possibly even help you in discovering a college major or career path.

Tip 6: Strive for Balance

The key for you is to avoid burnout. You have your high school work, college planning, social activities, family obligations, and outside activities (such as jobs, volunteering, etc.) — all demanding your time. Try and keep your life balanced — and be sure to schedule time just for yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously. And remember that while you don’t want to have a senior slump, it’s equally important not to crash and burn.While you don’t want to have a senior slump, it’s equally important not to crash and burn.

Tip 7: Set Life and Career Goals

As you reach the precipice of your primary education and are about to make that leap into the journey of the rest of your life, now — amid the relative calm of senior year — is a great time to find a quiet spot and reflect on your future career and life goals. Don’t worry about definites and don’t let yourself get bogged down in specifics; instead, focus on issues such as what you are searching for out of work and a career, what success means to you, what is important in your life.

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About the Author

Career Advice Expert

Randall Hansen Career Advice Expert

Dr. Randall S. Hansen is the founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. Dr. Hansen is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles to his name. He is frequently quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country; he is also an educator who has taught at the college level for more than 15 years.


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