Senior Year: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Senior year is synonymous with change. With college applications, graduation, and career choices, it can be an extremely emotional time for those in their final semesters of high school. Many seniors take this time to reflect on prior experiences and how they can apply them when they move off to their next chapter.

This article will be the first of three installments, interviewing 4 seniors’ respective journeys throughout their final year: during application submission, receiving decision letters, and just before graduation. The four seniors that have allowed me to document their year are Jason Liu, Andrea Wei, Helen Aghababian, and Ralston Augspurg. Here’s what they had to say.

“It’s kind of like a point [of] no return after this. You’re going to be out of high school, leaving a lot of your friends, going to college, and that’s really where your life starts,” Jason Liu stated.

For Liu, this growth seemed particularly important. One of his biggest hopes for college, he detailed, was becoming more independent. Leaving the small nest that one becomes used to is a coming of age. Being able to make decisions completely for himself is the next checkpoint in adulthood.

“I’m excited but also a little bit worried,” Ralston Augspurg said, “After this, I’m on my own and starting my life and I have to become self-reliant. But I’m also excited for that.”

A key factor of Augspurg’s ability to embark on this new chapter is in moving. The new locale will allow him to be more self-reliant and give him the opportunity to test his independence in a way that he hasn’t been able to in high school.

Being independent is the distinction from high school he looks forward to most in the coming years; he just wants to start fresh and build his life by his own standards.

“I want to go somewhere where I can always come home if I need to, but not somewhere where home can come to me,” Augspurg said.

“I just don’t know what to make of it yet,” Helen Aghababian said, “I used to be really excited to go off to college, but now I’m really sad because I’ve spent twelve years of my life here.”

What seemed most important was making the most of her final year. While college is exciting and applications are time-consuming, Aghababian said, she just wants to take advantage of what she has left.

“I just hope to really strengthen the relationships with my friends… [and] making sure I’m spending as much time as I can with the people that I’ve spent the last four years of my life with,” Aghababian said.

“[I feel] stressed time-wise… On top of [it], you have so much school work… it’s just a lot of stuff to do,” Liu said. He believes that for most seniors, like himself, the workload of senior year can become tedious with so many responsibilities piled on top of one another. But, the easiest way to get through it is with simple determination and by honing time management skills.

Aghababian, on the other hand, added that she only feels stressed because everyone around her is. She doesn’t naturally manifest the pressure, saying that “I’m not sure if I feel the same way… Everyone is collectively stressed so I feel like I should be [too].”

Similarly, Augspurg was also able to find ways to alleviate the particular kind of stress this year brings. His state of mind came from not allowing himself to save anything until the last minute, and by staying on top of his college work very early on, saying that been looking at colleges “since the beginning of junior year.”

Andrea Wei began her college process even earlier.

“I started talking to Brown University in the beginning of junior year,” Wei said, “we stayed in contact throughout junior year and I had my official visit in September of this year, and that was when I decided that I really wanted to commit.”

Wei is talking about her unofficial commitment to Brown University for swimming.

She felt incredibly humbled by the opportunity, knowing that it was the product of years of hard work.

“[Swimming] has very much been the main focus in my life for… about 8 or 9 years… I don’t remember not being at practice after school every day. I just can’t imagine life without [it]” Wei said.

The timeline of scouting and applications for student-athletes is much sooner than most other students, so conversations about college are nothing new to her. And while this prolonged process has paid off tremendously, unofficial commitment is just how it sounds: unofficial. “I’m glad that I know where I’m going, but it’s kind of stressful to know that I have to get straight A’s, maybe one or two B’s, first semester. So it’s a little tight,” Wei said.

But all of the hard work she has put herself through is to make her final year memorable.

“I didn’t really have time to enjoy hanging out with friends or going shopping with people… My biggest goal is just having fun my last year,” Wei said.

The last thing each student wanted to offer was advice to underclassmen that are going to be in their shoes in the future. Their main message assured that preparing for college and being diligent during its application process is at some points an unfortunate necessity, but that the process is molding your future. But more than anything, to have a firm grasp on your sense of self. Summed up quite nicely by Aghababian: “Don’t stress too much about it. Everyone is going to go somewhere, that’s a fact… As long as you know what you want to do and have a strong sense of who you are… I think you’ll do fine.”