www.whyville.net Feb 2, 2014 Weekly Issue

Veteran Times Writer

Senior Survival Guide

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All throughout Junior year I was told that Senior year was going to be a breeze, and I just had to trudge through 11th grade. And that was the greatest lie I've ever been fed. Senior year is as chaotic as high school can get with college applications/acceptances on the line along with other senior activities that need to be taken care of. So I've compiled a list below of some important aspects to keep track of throughout the hectic year.

Summer of Senior Year

1. Time Management

Summer has always been associated with the "do-nothing" attitude. It is so easy to use up the break hanging with friends and other shenanigans. That was mistake #1. If I spent just 1-2 weeks of that break writing essays for college applications or just fill out out scholarships, I would've saved the time I had to use later on in the year when I was already stretched out with other work.

2. Summer Job

Senior year is quite pricey. From paying for essentials like cap and gowns and continued club membership fees, to the wanted things like prom tickets and graduation trips. This along with college application fees (and sending SAT scores for the applications) can add up to a cringe-worthy amount. A summer job would be a great way to alleviate some of the burden off of your parents.

a. Resumes and Interviews

This will be a necessary component for nearly all job offers, along with an interview. Since most high school students applying for jobs don't have experience to call their own, the resume and interview is their chance to showcase their worth.

I have made both an article on how to make a resume as well as some key tips to know about for any interview. The ID's for these articles are respectively: 13768 and 12523

3. Communication is Key

This is the perfect span of time to discuss your dreams for your future goals with your parents. It is *HIGHLY* essential that your parents know where you want to be, as well as where THEY want you to be. You also want to make sure they understand how crazy the upcoming year will be and have them brave themselves for the bumpy ride.

Also, this is the perfect time to drive the phrase "tax returns immediately" in their head. You want your parents to understand the sooner they file their taxes the upcoming January, the greater your chances are at getting a portion of the government's financial aid through FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

4. College Trips

Now is the chance to visit the campuses and not worry over planning last-minute weekend trips throughout the year.

You also want to have a list of your top choices. A good list of colleges would include dream schools (schools you *might*have a chance of getting into), and reach schools (ones that you are certain you can get into). Because, just like any important life decision, a back up plan is essential.

5. Community Service

If you haven't already earned a decent amount of hours the past three years, it is time to bulk up. I cannot tell you the number of scholarships I have stumbled across that are devoted entirely for students who give to their community regardless of their GPAs and SAT Scores.

Putting material gains aside, community service also helps in maturing a person. We have gotten so used to helping out ourselves, and indulging only in activities that reap benefits for us. Progressing from that, into doing things to satisfy another's needs is an essential part in being an adult.

Senior Year

1. SAT

If your scores aren't around what you need for your schools of choice, it is imperative that you sign up to take the SAT once more before early deadlines in November-December. In order to prepare for re-taking the test, I have an article fully devoted to the SAT test itself (ID: 14018).

What I would like to mention about the test is that it can be pretty costly $50 dollars for every time that you take it. If this is something you cannot afford, Collegeboard offers "SAT fee waivers" that tale away this cost. If you are a recipient for Free/Reduced lunch you qualify for this benefit. In order to get one of these, talk to your Senior Counselor or College Counselor (whomever your school designated for the task).

Another thing width mentioning, is that when you apply for the SAT, you are given FOUR FREE score reports to send to universities/colleges. This offer only stands until a week after you take the test. So it is important that you take advantage of the offer before it expires. I was one of the fools who only used two of the waivers and later on in the year had to pay $22.50 (11.25 per school). Even if you don't have four schools in mind, it never hurts to send your scores to a school you might think about applying to later on.

2. Recommendation

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to find teachers/coaches/counselors who know you well. It's better to have them type out a letter and save it on their computer for the times you will need it, rather than continually coming to them for recommendations to colleges/scholarships throughout the year.

Be sure to give your recommendor a printout of your resume that highlights your accomplishments, so the letter can become personal rather than a generic cookie-cutter letter that is one-size-fits-all. After this one letter has been created, your recommendor will be able to modify the contents of it in the future for other purposes you need it for.

3. Counselor Connection

Get to know your Senior/College counselor and introduce yourself as well as your plans at the beginning of the year. This person will be your gateway to counselor recommendations required by colleges, as well as the bearer of many a scholarship. And be sure to visit them frequently throughout the year so they keep you in mind when it is time for them to nominate students for possible scholarships.

By associating myself with my College and Careers Advisor, she was able to give me piles on piles of scholarship applications as she caught wind of them. She also was an enormous help during college applications with her incomparable recommendation letters and ability to print out my transcripts faster than the person designated for the job.

4. School Schedule

Most people make their schedule have a mere three classes with everything else being Study Hall and/or Free Period. While I agree that your schedule is allowed to be a shade easier considering you have earned most of your credits, there is a limit to the ease.

Colleges purposely ask for final transcripts, not only to see your grades for the classes you do have, but for the level of rigor these classes are. I have yet to come across a university application where it didn't ask for my senior schedule without having a scroll down bar asking if the class is "Honors, Advanced Placement, IB, or AICE".


1. College Applications


The first thing you want to do is find out the deadlines for the schools you intend to apply to. Most universities will have an early action and/or early decision deadline before their regular one. Early Action deadlines are basically for students who are VERY interested in applying to a certain school and want to e notified of their acceptation/declination earlier on. By doing an early application, you also increase your chance of getting into the school. Early action is different compared to Earl Decision for one VAST difference: if you apply for early decision to a school and get accepted, you MUST go to that school lawfully and reject all other college applications. For this reason, I personally would not recommend doing Early Decision applications, because it takes away your freedom of choosing.

Application Process

The process varies for all schools as does the level of difficulty. Some schools have only taken me 15 minutes to finish the application while others take me a few days to gather up all the information necessary to complete and application. Because of this, you should set up appointments with your counselor to get line-by-line help with the more difficult applications and even bring your parents along, if possible.

When it came to my applications, I opened up accounts on all the universities I was interested in and worked on all of them until I got stuck at certain sections of them. My next steps were to write down the specific questions I got stuck at for each school, and go to my Counselor's office as soon as time allowed, to figure out the pesky details.

Money Money Money, Honey

While applying to one university for a mere 30 dollars sounds like a bargain, applying to six schools with application fees varying from 20-100 dollars can certainly add up. However, just like the SAT fee waivers people with Free/Reduced lunch qualify for, they also are eligible to receive Application waivers at participating schools.

Another money component to keep in mind is, once you are accepted to a school, there is a tuition deposit to pay to reserve your spot. This deposit can range from $100+. So while you might have applied to six or more universities, you really want to do the deposit for as many schools as you can afford. But no need to despair just yet! There are schools who waive this tuition deposit, and you can inquire with the Admissions Office of the schools you are interested in, and ask if they allow for that.

I personally have been emailed by several universities I've applied to telling me I don't need to pay the tuition deposit (without even asking them if that was possible---holler). So there is hope for you yet, dear Whyvillians.


Another inescapable part of applications is the section that asks all the extracurriculars you have been a part of. What colleges love to see from this section is 3-4 years of dedication to an organizations as well as leadership positions within it. For this reason, it is important that you maintain membership in the clubs you have joined already by continually paying your membership fees and going to mandatory meetings.

You are also not doing yourself a favor by joining five new clubs all in Senior year. Colleges immediately pick up on this and see it as an attempt to make your butter up your resume.

Another thing I've come to notice is that colleges adore students who put in the initiative to start/manage clubs of their own. This is an incredible feat due to all the time it takes to find a sponsor, get the message across, come up with the club's purpose and etc.

2. Scholarships

Most people associate scholarships as beginning in January, since it follows along with college application trend. And THAT is what causes many students to miss out on high-quantity scholarships that have deadlines ranging from July-December for the following year.

There are literally millions of applications out there that you could qualify for without knowing, so this is an excellent time to become a Google Pro. What you want to do is first find scholarships in something you excel in whether it be in academic, athletics, or in the arts. The main goal is to apply to as MANY scholarships as possible because the worst thing that can happen is getting declined.

Then comes the real fun. I've had my fair share of kicks and giggles Googling scholarships for "midgets" "four eyes" and etc. and you'd be surprised at the number of legitimate scholarships for people of this nature.

When I look for scholarships myself, I have my Calendar app open on my iPod and post an alert of the deadline day for any scholarship I am interested in. It you decide to go this route, be sure to check your app on a daily basis to make sure you have ample time before a deadline creeps closer to do the application.


Another thing I've come to notice is that when people see the word "essay" a vast majority of them do not bother with the scholarship. And due to this, you have a greater chance at winning scholarships that require and essay component. While it may be self-induced torture at the time to go through and type out all these essays, you will thank the heaven and stars you did when that prize money comes reeling in soon enough.

One item to make sure of when doing these essays is that you have a current/former teacher of yours that will happily read over your essays for grammatical/spelling errors. And while I might like to say otherwise, GRAMMAR DOES MATTER. The people reviewing the essays for the money, can just as easily lose interest in an essay that is horribly written, as well as on that revolves around a banal topic.


As I mentioned earlier, it stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form is necessary to fill out for all public universities in order to gain money from the federal government towards your schooling.

This application opens up in January and stays available for a good portion of the year. HOWEVER, it is in your best interest to do the long, obnoxious form as soon as possible, because the time you wait to get it done, is the time other people are getting the money.

There are dozens of free resources on the Internet that can help you put this beast to rest which can be found by a simple google search of: how to fill out the FAFSA line-by-line. Also, if you like to have things done right in front of you, most high schools offer days where parents/students attend workshops where they help you fill out the form then and there, so be sure to see if your school offers this.

And for those of you who have early deadlines for FAFSA such as in February, you are able to do the form with an Estimated Family Income, but will be later on required to actually file your taxes and submit the updated version later on.

Welcome to Adulthood

While this year has proved itself to be a devil, it also helped me mature, greatly. No longer did I depend on my mom to fill out applications or ask her to call people for me when I had questions on applications and etc.

I've also been preparing myself for the possibility that I might dorm by actually putting in an effort to learn how to cook, and being taught the basics of things that are required to maintain a home such as bills and etc.

The most important thing I've learned by far, however, is responsibility. I used to be the kid who would lose her permission slip the day after it was given and sheepishly ask for a new one. Due to no longer having the option of "getting a copy of it and an extra day" I've learned to keep myself on top of documents and organization in general.

With that being said, I wish all my fellow seniors and future seniors the best of luck. And I hope this guide might have shed light on a topic you were not familiar with. If any of you have questions that still aren't answered, you are more then welcome to send me a ymail.

Author's Note: I hereby diagnose Banjomann with the worst case of Senioritis known to Whyville, and his treatment is scolding at the hands of Whyville. So be sure to join the cause and ymail him friendly reminders like "get to the applications, dummy". He will greatly appreciate it!


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