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What They Don't Tell You About Senior Year

Updated: Apr 2

Senior year is here! I’m finally the top dog — the older and the wiser. I’m even a legal adult!

And yet . . . I’m still, in many ways, a kid. But soon I’ll be off doing bigger and better things — for now though, I’m still just a student in high school living with his parents. 

Senior year’s a lot more weird and nuanced than people make it out to be. I want to give you a peek into the things that surprised me my senior year, so that you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when it’s your turn to be a senior. Here’s how my senior year caught me off guard.

There is no next year . . . of high school at least

Find out that you have an interest in creating your own clothes and want to take a clothing class next year? Yeah, good luck with that because there won’t be a next year (unless you don’t graduate). If you want to learn something, you’re going to have to either learn it on your own, take a private class (which costs $$), or take a class at a college (which costs even more $$$$).

The only high school classes you’re ever going to take are the ones you're in this year and the ones you took before.

This predicament extends to all other aspects of your life at school as well. Find out about a cool activity that you didn’t even know existed? Better hope there’s a club for it out in the “real” world. And worst of all, if you meet somebody new, you’re probably going to be required to make it a long distance relationship eventually. The only way you could really avoid this is if both of you are headed to the same city after graduation.  

I have to do things that aren’t school?

I don’t know what you’re planning to do after high school, but I decided to take the college route. But what people don’t tell you is, there is a lot of stuff you are required to do your senior year before you can even go to college. You have to apply to the colleges you’re interested in, actually consider what you want to do with your life, apply for scholarships (which means writing!), fill out the FAFSA, and once you decide where you’re going, you have to fill out other forms for housing and meal plans. 

None of these are particularly difficult to do, but you are expected to get them in before a due date and will have to squeeze time into your schedule to actually sit down and do them. 

I’m an adult in some ways, but I'm still a kid

Most seniors are either 18 or 17. I turned 18 right before entering my senior year.  If you end up as a legal adult your senior year, there’s an interesting juxtaposition you’ll find.

You’ll be treated like an adult and a kid at the same time. You can vote, legally sign up for just about anything without your parents' permission, and will, hopefully, be trusted to do things on your own. At the same time, you still live with your parents/guardians, you’re still in high school, and while people will trust you to act like an adult sometimes, they’ll overall expect you to act like a kid. You’re stuck in this limbo all throughout your last year of high school. 

But more than anything else, when you turn 18 and/or enter your senior year, you won’t feel any different than you did before. You’re going to be you no matter what age you are. Who you are might change but it’s not going to be because you lived another year. 

This realization has some implications for the future too. If I don’t feel like an adult at 18, then when will I? I can’t really tell you when you’ll feel like an adult—I don’t know when I’ll feel that way. I’d guess that you’ll feel like an adult after you get some experience living and your sense of self starts to stay pretty constant. We’ll just have to wait and find out. 

Things Really Aren’t All that Different

Things will stay the same more than they will change. You're in the same school with the same teachers, friends, activities, and you’ll still be the same person. Things will catch you off guard, but you’ll get through it—just try to enjoy it along the way.

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