Monday, February 4, 2013

Senior Year Snafus

Real People. Deep Learning
Real People. Deep Learning (Photo credit: giulia.forsythe)
by Sia Knight

As I've worked with students throughout the years, I've noticed a persistent and troubling myth that has worked its way into the psyche of 12th graders.

Many seniors believe that they can "slack" during their last year in high school. Here are four of the biggest mistakes that students make during senior year.

  1. Not taking math - This is a mistake for a number of reasons. One reason is that most students are required to take some sort of math during their college career. Forgoing math during 12th grade will make you rusty and get you out of practice. Even if you have completed all of your high school requirements, consider another year of math.

  2. Not taking a foreign language - Students are often looking for a way to edge out the competition in the admissions game. One way that a student can distinguish himself/herself is to advance in foreign language. Too often families are shortsighted about the effect that foreign language has on strengthening the high school transcript. If you would like to stand out amongst your peers, take as much foreign language as possible, going beyond the required courses for high school graduation.

  3. Not taking a full course load - Some students have completed most of their high school requirements and only need a couple of classes to cross the threshold into high school graduation. Think long and hard before deciding to take a reduced course load. There are some situations where this course of action might make sense. For example, if you are a business or marketing student who is using a block of time to serve as an intern at a company, it may make sense to take less than a full course load. If you have decided to take some time to "relax" and take a study hall, realize that colleges may not look favorably on that decision.

  4. Not doing your best - Student performance is very important throughout the entire senior year. I remember very clearly when I had a student who sat in shock when his dream school asked me, his counselor, for his third quarter interim grades. He, like many kids, worked very hard during the first two quarters knowing that first semester grades would be sent to his perspective schools. Although he begged me profusely, I was obligated to send evidence of his lackluster third quarter performance to the college and he was denied admission. I use this story as a cautionary tale to any student who thinks it's okay to slack during senior year.

Stay smart and avoid all of the potential pitfalls that senior year can bring.

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