It was the best of years; it was the worst of years
If Charles Dickens were a senior, he would notice that 12th grade can be the most stressful and the most wonderful year of high school
March 17, 2019
Graphic by Bella Russo
Seniors suffer a double burden
Class of 2019 deserve less homework in fall semester
For seniors, the ever-nearing deadline to apply to college is fast-approaching. The University of Texas, one of the most popular schools to which McCallum students apply, has a close regular decision deadline at Dec. 1, and other universities follow close behind that with deadlines later in December, January and February. These deadlines would be easier to meet if there was not also the ever-increasing amount of homework given to students by teachers. The amount of homework senior year seems to be a shock for most seniors, myself included, as I was told often by seniors of the Class of 2018 that “senior year is way easier than junior year” and “you have way less homework than you do in junior year.”
The academic rigor of senior year may prepare students well for college, but it does not do them any favors when they are applying to college. I have found that I stay up until the wee hours of the morning trying to get homework done after school, and I have no time during the week to work on finishing my applications, which often include a second round for applications for things like honors colleges or housing even after you’ve been admitted. I don’t think I would have been able to finish my general college applications the way I wanted if I had not done most of the work over the summer. The ever-increasing workload as midterm finals approach has stopped me personally from being able to spend time on applications to honors programs and working on applying for scholarships. There are many steps to the process of getting ready to go to a university for higher education. Students have to not only worry about applying, but once they get admitted they have to try to get scholarship money, apply for FAFSA aid, apply for housing and to any special programs available at the university of their choice.
But there’s more to applying to college than just the applications. Another major part of understanding university life is touring the schools to which you apply. Currently, seniors are given only two days excused absence for touring colleges. This limit on excused days discourages students from applying to schools that are out of state because of the days of school that will be missed. I have applied to five out-of-state schools, and I have felt the pressure of missing school when I have to fly out of state to tour the colleges I am interested in. I have now used up both of my days sanctioned off for touring colleges. Luckily I have been able to tour all the schools I am considering, but for many students, trying to get to see all the colleges they want is too much of a stretch. The school should give seniors more excused absences so they can truly get to experience the universities they wish to see.
I think I speak for most seniors when I say that teachers should back off on assigning homework in the fall semester so that seniors can focus on their college applications. The college-application process is demanding, and teachers should adjust their fall semester plans accordingly. Students should not have to work on their college applications during class, as I have seen in several of my classes, but instead should be given time to work on their application after school instead of hours of homework.
Savor your senior year from the start
Take the time to stop and appreciate the moments and the people that make your Mac experience
A day that I was most proud of myself in high school was probably the day that I got to school 30 minutes early to try to convince my AP U.S. History teacher to exempt me from my final. You had to have a yearly average of 80 in the class and take the AP test to be exempt. I had taken the AP test and my average was a 79.8. The class was certifiably the hardest class I had ever taken in high school, and the thought of having to take the final after taking the AP test really crushed me inside. So I rehearsed all the reasons why I should be exempt from the final on my drive to school, listening to music to pump me up to beg to get out of this final. When I got to school, I successfully talked my way out of it. I had a fantastic day from then on.
In all, junior year was my hardest year of high school. My course load was insane, ACT testing was in full swing, and college mode was activated. I was busy all the time between journalism, my outside-of-school tutoring, and sports-correspondence games that I felt like I was running a million miles a minute, and I was never going to be able to stop. When that year ended, and senior year loomed on the horizon, I realized how excited I was to be finishing high school. I just wanted it to be over because I was so tired of all the work I was putting in and constantly being exhausted. But now, as a senior with only a few days left of high school, I could not be more thankful for my time here.
I get it. Some people have horrible high school experiences. I know many that did. I also know people that cared too much about high school, and made it more of a popularity contest than just trying to be yourself. I found that I was happiest with a few best friends, not a bunch of people that I felt lukewarm about. I would like to address all of the underclassmen, however, because I have learned so much about myself in the past few years, and I would like to share some of the lesson I learned along the way.
It will all be OK. Honestly. The amount of time I have spent stressing about something that, in the long run, matters next to nothing, are too many to count. Stressing about school work can seem important in the moment, and I am not saying not to try at all in high school because it is important to make good grades. But don’t stress yourself to the point of tears about school. We all have cried over an assignment or the fact that we have a test in every single class tomorrow, but the sun will rise, and you’ll get through it. You’ll learn something from it, whether you’re successful on the exams or not.
But enough about handling school and stress. Let’s talk about a truly essential subject: relationships. No, this is NOT cheesy. Do not tell me that you haven’t had that crush in high school who you are really into, but the relationship is just not going anywhere, and you feel like everything is falling apart and the world is over. But news flash: it really is not! Do you know how many people stay together after high school and go on to get married? Not many couples make it. You still feel like you need to have these experiences to know what you want, but to be honest, you don’t really have to have them in high school. High school is a weird time where no one is that mature, and everyone is trying to figure out who they are. If you did find someone, great for you. For those of you who are worried because you feel like you need that relationship, however, remember the opportunities you’re going to have to meet people in high school is pretty much over. College or not, you will meet so many people, and those people in high school you worried about won’t even be relevant anymore.
McCallum has played a huge part in making me who I am, and for that I am truly grateful. I had been in private school for seven years before coming back to the public school system, and my experiences here I will cherish forever. I had the most amazing teachers in my four years here that not only challenged me, but wanted me to succeed and helped me to get there. Please always appreciate your teachers. They come in before school, stay up late grading your essays, planning for the next class, and making sure you get the most out of your 90 minutes in their class.
Remember how lucky you are to be at McCallum. The diverse community that this school fosters is so unique, and most other high school students will never be able to say that they had the same experience. The students have unique stories that I challenge you to learn. You never know when someone else’s story my impact your own for the better.
Enjoy your family while you are still living at home. The idea that I will be on my own next year without my family for months, while exciting, is also scary because it’s the first time that it has been like that for me. Some of you may be extremely excited to be leaving your family because of issues, and that is totally fine. But for those who have close families, savor them. Enjoy eating dinner with your family and hanging out with them when you can. Thank them when they come to your sports events and theatre productions. They are your network, your support system. They love you. Realize that.
And finally, my message to those who are about to be seniors: this is your last year. Your last Taco Shack. Your last LBJ rivalry game. Your last pep rally. Your last homecoming. Your last Thundercloud sandwich at lunch. Your last fall or spring musical. Your last time seeing Mr. Garrison ominously patrol the roof of McCallum at lunch. Your last time trying to parallel park on Grover or find a spot in the senior lot. Your last telling Mr. Winter your name and grade for a Macjournalism Instagram post. It’s your last time going to parties with your friends and laughing so hard you cry. It’s your last time being a kid. It’s your last time having not many responsibilities and coming home to dinner and folded laundry from your parents. It’s your last chance to hangout with your parents Sunday night and get ready for the week. There are countless “lasts” of senior year and before you know it, it is going to be your last semester, your last month, your last week, and then eventually your last day of high school. This is a time in your life that makes you who you are. Let your senior year be about you, and living in the moment to the fullest extent, no matter what your plans are for the future.