Looking back on my experience with the college admissions and future planning process, the phrase “hindsight is 20/20” comes to mind. There are many things I know now that I wish I’d known at the outset of the application and decision-making process, lessons I will share with those who will begin this process soon.
First and foremost, never apologize for what you like or dislike about a school or alternate option, such as military service or taking a year off. Your future belongs to you and no one else, and, as an admissions officer once told me, there are worse things you can do with your life than enjoy it. Follow your passion, whatever it may be, as it won’t lead you astray.
Though others may try to dissuade you from your plans, if you believe that your decision will make you truly happy and fulfilled into the future, stick with it despite opposition. There is no need to be disrespectful or dismissive while doing so, as those who love you truly want what is best for you, which leads into my next piece of advice.
Treasure your family while you’re still in high school. After graduation, no matter your plans, things will be different at home, whether or not you choose to stay there. Your parents or parental figures are undoubtedly having a hard time coming to terms with your impending adulthood, and every person handles this differently.
Some might try to smother you and attempt to influence your decisions, while others will give you the freedom to make the decision. Cut your loved ones some slack when you have the inevitable “future talks,” as they’re struggling with this, too.
Though you will undoubtedly be spending a great deal of time preparing for life after graduation, don’t let your focus on the future overshadow your enjoyment of the present. Your junior and senior years of high school will hold memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your life, as well as learning experiences that hold lessons you will use into your future.
Don’t allow yourself to fade into the background either socially or academically, and do your best to keep up the standards and quality of work that you’ve held throughout high school. This will result in happier memories and less stress as you apply to college.
Learn about yourself while you weigh all options
The application process is, by nature, incredibly individualized, and everyone’s experience will be unique. However, these words of wisdom are universal, and will make your future planning as you enter into the home stretch of high school much less stressful and difficult. At its core, the applications process is a great way to learn more about yourself and what you truly want from your future, and I encourage you to look into every option, no matter how far-fetched it may seem in the beginning.
Loyola High School, Mankato, Minn.
Hometown: North Mankato, Minn.