During the final weeks of the school year, many students find their attention to detail and commitment to their studies waning as their attention turns to the upcoming summer vacation. This can be especially true for high school juniors and seniors, and the consequences of such end-of-year slips can be disastrous for both groups.
Though letting your motivational guard down may be irresistibly tempting, here are several year-end mistakes for high school juniors and seniors to avoid.
Junior Year Mistakes
One mistake that high school juniors should take care to avoid is allowing their test prep for the June ACT or SAT to suffer. After completing their AP exams and course finals, many juniors naturally feel the need to take a deep breath and relax their studying.
While relaxing for a day or two is beneficial, juniors who plan to take the ACT or SAT in June should not pause their review for an extended period. Yes, you will have other opportunities to take the ACT or SAT if your results warrant it, but achieving a high score in June enables you to focus on other admissions tasks as you begin your senior year.
In addition, juniors should make sure to carefully study for any SAT subject tests they plan to take, as these exams can enhance your college applications.
In fact, college planning as a whole should stay at the forefront of your mind. For instance, you should devote sufficient time to researching schools and to touring those that interest you. By the fall of your senior year, aim to complete most, if not all, of your college visits.
You should also thoroughly reflect on these visits – remember that senior year is often too busy with application paperwork to worry about which applications you should fill out. Your junior year is the perfect time to do this legwork.
Juniors should choose their senior year classes with care. Select first-semester courses that improve your admissions competitiveness and second-semester classes that allow you to explore your passions and consider which teachers you will ask to write college letters of recommendation.
Downplaying the admissions process at the end of your junior year is a massive mistake with consequences that will become apparent once senior year begins.
Senior Year Mistakes
The end of senior year can lead to pitfalls that are similar to the end of junior year, though the consequences are somewhat different. Having a college acceptance in hand can sometimes mean that seniors are likely to let their motivation slip earlier in the year than juniors.
Thus, it is AP exams in May, not standardized tests in June, where the natural inclination to relax can be harmful. If you plan to sit for one or more AP exams in your senior year, remember that high marks on these assessments can result in college credit. Taking them seriously can help you start college ahead of the pack.
Even more important, an extreme drop in grades during the second semester of your senior year can prompt some schools to rescind their admissions offers. Not only is the belief false that second-semester senior year grades do not count, it can also end in catastrophe.
Also, what you learn during the second half of your senior year can often be very useful in your freshman college courses. Skipping classes or ignoring homework assignments and projects can be detrimental both now and in the future.
Although some loss of motivation is near-unavoidable for all high school students as they approach summer vacation, too much or a poor understanding of this phenomenon can be harmful. High school juniors and seniors should make sure they avoid the mistakes outlined above, as doing so can help them achieve the goals they have set for themselves.
Tags: high school, education, students, colleges, college admissions, academics, standardized tests
Bradford Holmes Contributor
Bradford Holmes is a professional SAT and Latin tutor with Varsity Tutors. He earned his B.A. from Harvard University and his master's degree from the University of Southern California.