Advice for rising seniors

Ashley Chase and Sophia Alaniz

Sophia Alaniz, senior

I am a senior in a high school and will soon be a University of Texas at San Antonio roadrunner. In the four years of my high school career I have learned a lot. I am here to give you some of my advice on college, scholarships, AP and all that jazz. Well let me be the 50th senior to tell you that senioritis is real, and if you think you have it now you are hugely mistaken. You can not let senioritis get the best of you because no matter how much you may dread it you still have school. You still have finals, AP tests and just general homework that you still need to turn in. I partially let senioritis get the best of me but it’s okay because I am going to college and that’s the goal. One of the reason I get the pleasure of going to college is because of the essay I submitted. When you write your college essay you have to make it as creative as possible. The people admitting you read thousands of essays so you have to make yours stand out. My essay was about ants that infested my room – proof that college essays can literally be about anything. Now, you can get admitted to college, but it is hard to go to college if you can not pay for it. With my parents savings and my own I do not need scholarships-which brings me to having a job while you’re in high school. I have been working since November of my junior year. I think having a job while still in high school is nice, but it is hard. I could still balance theatre, newspaper and UIL academics, but it was asking for flexible hours. If you have the opportunity to have a job during your high school year, take it. You could save up for college and the extra cash is always nice. However, if you are taking a ton of AP classes, think hard about taking a job because during AP exam season it can be very hard to have one. During my high school career I took three AP classes, which is very different from what the rest of Vandegrift usually does. Studying for an AP econ exam while having a job was just its own type of hell. But all in all high school is four years I promise you will never ever forget.


Ashley Chase, senior

Having survived four years of high school, I’m not going to sugarcoat anything- it can be hard. Especially when you’ve been asked to write about your experience as a high school senior and all you can think about is the fact that who cares because you’re going to be out of there in a matter of days anyways. But yet here I am, writing this advice anyways in an attempt to break the pattern of lethargy I’ve created over the past few days and reach the underclassmen. Hope you appreciate it.

First off- do not underestimate the need for scholarships. I don’t care how cheap your school is, how much you’re required to pay, or how little the scholarship is. College is crazy expensive and every penny counts. Imagine if you could be given $500 just for telling a recruiter about your skill set. That is what scholarships can do for you if you take the time to apply to them. This year we had a senior who won a $500 scholarship solely because he was the only one who applied.

It’s not always that easy to win scholarships though. The most common element of scholarships, and even the college application process, are the essays. The issue with essays is that they’re often the same cliche, sentimental topics about how you’ve grown as a person, why you’re so amazing, what’s so great about the college you’re begging to get into, etc. This is when you need to polish your sense of imagination and exaggeration because you’re going to need them to write an impressive essay. You want to make sure your essay stands out from the crowd so make sure that 1) you find a unique position or experience that is different from the norm and 2) exaggerate and dramatize your personal experience so it becomes more meaningful. Don’t lie, but you might be able to turn a bad hair day into a lifelong struggle with personal image and appearance culminating in a refreshed sense of self worth. Now that sounds pretty meaningful.

You’ve probably also been told that the way to look impressive to colleges is to take several AP classes, whether or not you intend to pursue the subjects of these classes in your future. While I’m not one to talk- I took six AP tests this year- but while AP classes can be an impressive thing for your transcript and a good challenge to prepare you for the rigor of college level work, don’t kill yourself over taking a slew of AP courses. Often, colleges will be just as impressed by a high A in an on level course as a high B in an AP one. If you’re getting straight C’s in all your AP classes when you could be getting A’s in on level, back off a little bit. If you still feel the need to take some AP courses, take the ones that deal with fields you’re interested in or give you college credit that fits into a major you’ve taken an interest in. You’ll thank yourself later in the year when senioritis hits. Do not underestimate the power of senioritis. If you’re not dedicated to the classes you’re taking and have the self discipline necessary to keep working at them, your grades may fall quickly your senior year, which is definitely not impressive to colleges.

My final words of wisdom are these- don’t become so consumed with one thing, whether that be academics or music or sports or whatever. I know too many kids who focused too much on one area of their life and their grades or their health or their social lives or all of the above suffered because of it. It’s still important to find something you’re passionate about and put your all into it, but maybe save a little bit of your time to make sure everything else in your life is in order too. You can’t give your best at everything you do if you spend all your effort on one pursuit. So live life a little when you’re in high school. Be disciplined and work hard, but don’t become afraid to allow yourself to enjoy the experience. It makes the four year struggle a little more bearable if you do.