As if taking my first SAT is not enough, my academic life remains vulnerable to the constant bombardment of assignments, assessments, and of course, another round of Stupendously Annoying Tests. Yet as I take sleepy steps up to my first period class, I notice a senior frantically running down a flight of stairs into his counselor’s office. In his flailing hands were some identical and trivial-looking paper that probably worth sprinting down the stairs at 7:50 in the morning. Aha. He was a senior. In these 12 years of jungle-like college preparation–especially in Seoul, South Korea–the frantically running senior was at his last stage before entering this overly glorified palace called “college.” As I enter my junior classroom, a terrifying yet exciting revelation suddenly hit me: next year, I would be sprinting into my finish line like the senior whom I encountered, perhaps just as maniacally, if not more so.
As astonishing as this thought appeared to me, I soon realized that such a phenomenon is an automatic consequence from the natural lapse of time. Year after year, students approach their high school graduation at alarming speed. While complaining that their “freedom” does not arrive soon enough, students find themselves tearing up on the last day of high school, proud and nostalgic of the fruitful accomplishments that they have plucked during their teenage years.
“It is obvious but, at the same time, it is just unbelievable,” said Kevin Guo, a senior at Brookline High School located in Brookline, Massachusetts. “Honestly, I still feel like a freshman who just made new friends at this school,” Kevin continued, expressing his disbelief over the superspeed of his high school life. When asked about the level of “senioritis” building up within him, Kevin surprisingly gave an optimistic evaluation of his stress degree as a high school senior. “I don’t really think senior year is significantly harder than my previous years,” explained Kevin. “I just keep on doing things that I have always liked to do; it is not very different.”
A reminder that college is not the ultimate stop in one’s life may be the key fact for current juniors to remember. Such an obvious and apparent remedy sounds so much of a cliche that many would consider it to be quaint and ineffective. Yet it seems that many seniors who manage to finish their years with big smiles on their faces seem to agree on this rather “old-fashioned” idea.
“In my senior year in high school, I was different from my peers in that I continued to run cross country, play drums, and do other activities that many of my friends quit as they entered their senior years,” said Daniel Kim, an alum of Seoul International School who went on to continue his studies at Cooper Union.
“Many of my friends told me that I would not have enough time to write my applications,” reminisced Daniel. Daniel admits that he was nervous about the strict time management that he would need as a dedicated participant of his activities. “But I reminded myself that writing perfect applications just can’t be the ultimate goal of my high school career. I have things that I like to do, and they are the things that matter a lot to me.”
“The reason that I think my high school years passed by so quickly had been my consistent pursuit of my passion in addition to the academics in school,” said Kevin, who is excited to continue being an athlete, artist, as well as a superb student in his next step in life. “Life doesn’t just end after entering college. There are so many goals in life that can be set. I feel like not only juniors but also any student worried about becoming a high school senior should remember that.”
The senior that I met in the morning undeniably demonstrated an aspect of being a senior: feverish, exhausted, and stressed. However, being a senior does not necessitate a student from stopping what he or she has loved to do for years. Rather, the last year in high school can be flexibly used to demonstrate leadership in such activities, as well as to prepare oneself to reach even higher goals. With such a mindset, we will find ourselves as seniors smiling out of pride and self-gratitude, smiling for that one last picture with our classmates on a graduation day. Yes, we are juniors, and we are worried. Yes, we will be seniors next year, and we are more than excited to begin yet another journey in life.