Seniors and Transfers: How to Prepare for College | UC Davis

Students at the Cross Cultural Center, studying photographed on October 4, 2022
Karin Higgins/UC Davis

“Senioritis” is actually a misleading term. I caught it the second semester of my freshman year. The grim news is this: there is no cure for senioritis other than graduation. However, there are many treatments available. Here’s your guide to surviving and thriving in your last year of high school or community college. 

Reach Out

I highly recommend complaining — also known by its prescription name, “venting” — as a way to ease the symptoms of senioritis. Complaining to friends, family, peers, advisors, etc. at least a little is totally normal and an important part of vocalizing your fears and uncertainties about the future. To get you started, here are some of my favorites: “Boo!” and “What am I doing?” and “Why wasn’t I born into a family of rich Oscar winners?” and “I have no idea what the major I applied for means!”

Hand in hand with complaining is, unfortunately, listening. The same people you trust with your college apprehensions will probably have some sound advice. Almost all the adults in your life have dealt with the uncertainty of a vast and vague future. Some of them have gone through a similar college application process. 

Don’t forget who the experts are. If you have specific questions about dropping a class or your grade, it’s important to reach out to your advisors and teachers, not just your mom. I love my mother, but she doesn’t know anything about SAT subject tests. She went to an actual clown college in Europe. European clown colleges don’t even take SAT scores, I think. (Feel free to ask your advisor about that.)

Just because your friend told you “GPA doesn't matter once you turn in your college applications” doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s the opposite of true, also known as false! And study for your AP tests! Your waitlisted schools might take both AP scores and GPA into account and you can always use AP scores to get college credit. You can still hurt or help your university chances based on how well you do in your last semester.

Organize, Organize, Organize

Focus on what you can control. There’s a lot that falls into your hands during college apps and decisions, which is both a scary and exciting prospect. Track everything you need to do in your final year of high school or community college!

Everyone I know who was most successful in tackling the task of graduating despite senioritis had a master list of stuff to do. I used a spreadsheet with a list of every small college-related task including submitting AP scores, thanking my letter of recommendation writers, applying for scholarships/financial aid, etc. No one ever told me that applications don’t end when you submit your college applications, so I’m telling you now. There are still scholarships, honors programs, internships, and jobs to apply for. Writing it all down makes it so much less overwhelming and helps you prioritize.

I also had a separate (color-coded!) sheet for keeping track of my college decisions. You may have already made a list if you were applying to universities, so you can always use that. If you don’t want to use a spreadsheet, you can use a doc, Notion, notes, or even writing it down on a piece of paper. Use what’s best for you. 

Get Ahead of the Curve

Write down everything you did in high school or community college. Clubs, jobs, awards, individual projects, etc. Anything that might make its way onto a resume for your first couple years in university! Note the dates you started and what you did. It will make your life infinitely easier if you do it now, when it’s recent and maybe even fresh in your mind from college apps. 

Enjoy the Present Moment

With all that focus on the future, don’t forget to spend some time in high school or community college actually trying to enjoy the experience. Maybe you have prom coming up or maybe there are interesting extracurriculars in which you’re involved. Maybe you’re on a sports team and they are doing sports stuff with running and throwing stuff. A lot of people laud university as a time to explore your identity and grow as a person, but there’s no reason you can’t start now. Keep exploring your interests and doing what you can to find joy in your life now. You got this

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