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The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

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Senior Year is a Time to Increase Rigor

Visual+by+Lyla+Carney.
Visual by Lyla Carney.

High school is a pivotal experience in a student’s career that is accompanied by an expectation to enhance one’s academic excellence and personal growth. These years are filled with challenging coursework, thorough assignments and assessments, extracurricular activities, and, most important of all, learning to navigate life as an individual. 

While all four years of high school have their own challenges and struggles, many high schoolers can agree that junior year is the most demanding and rigorous year. Junior year grades are – in most cases – the last full year of grades colleges see before a student gets accepted, and are therefore the most accurate and recent representation of a student’s academic performance.

Along with students balancing challenging classes, their extracurriculars, and a work-life balance during junior year, there are additional nuances that can take a significant toll on students’ mental health and levels of motivation. Some of these include standardized tests, going on college visits, building relationships with teachers, and meeting with college counselors.

One of the main goals juniors have during this critical year is to enhance their resume to be the best it possibly can. Students strive to make a variety of athletic teams, join clubs, and even take the responsibility through leadership roles in their extracurriculars or classes.

Furthermore, the second semester of junior year consists of choosing senior year classes and applying for leadership roles for the rapidly approaching senior year. 

This leads to a question that many juniors are striving to find an answer to: Is senior year a time to increase in rigor with regard to academics, athletics, and leadership roles, or is it an opportunity to relax as a result of the high amount of stress endured throughout high school? 

Am I really capable of surviving another year of this workload, if not more?

As a current junior in high school, I can attest to the fact that this year has been filled with a substantial amount of stress and pressure that cannot compare to my previous two years of high school. 

This year, I am enrolled in various AP classes, involved in a varsity sport that is two seasons long, and have been an active member in a number of clubs offered at the school. With a magnified amount of stress and pressure to have the most impressive resume possible for my potential, I tried my best to take on as much as I could handle this year.

Being self-aware of how I have navigated my junior year so far, I recently have been asking myself, “Am I really capable of surviving another year of this workload, if not more?”

Having picked my senior year classes, I am currently trying to find where my limit is of how much I can handle. While I want to enjoy my senior year and spend as much time with the people I have been surrounded with for essentially my whole life, it is also my last opportunity to show my full capabilities to the colleges I am applying to which is a balance many people my age are trying to decipher. 

With this in mind, I believe that senior year is a time to take no steps back and to continue taking a variety of opportunities, despite the exhausting expectations it may bring. 

Visual by Lyla Carney.

To start off, seniors typically start applying to colleges during the fall of their senior year and begin writing essays even earlier than that during the summer. Accordingly, many colleges want to know what extracurriculars students will be involved in for the upcoming year.

 

If you have the opportunity to run for any leadership positions or join any clubs that may pertain to a major you may be considering, I strongly encourage you to take the initiative to get involved and push yourself to explore your interests which will not only help with your own personal development, but will look appealing to colleges as well.

Also, many colleges ask to see your transcript with fall senior year courses and grades which contributes to your GPA. To go along with this, many colleges will want to see if you are able to maintain a stable GPA and not get lazy towards the end of your high school career. While it is tempting to take the easy route your final year, attempt to push yourself and challenge yourself because colleges will take note of this.

Next, on the Common Application, students are asked to submit their grades at mid-year. Even for colleges that do not use the Common Application, they will request these grades in a similar way. Once you receive your grades from the first quarter or first semester of your senior year, you will attach your official transcript with these grades and the classes you are taking. The grades you receive in these classes will be visible to colleges and will impact your GPA which is why I believe you should make the most of having one last year and truly make it one that demonstrates all of your capabilities.

If you continue to show your commitment and ability to handle a large workload, this may make you stand out from other applicants who choose a more “laid-back” senior year.

What if you think you are going to apply as an Early Decision or Early Action applicant? Even in this situation, most colleges will still want to see grades that come from your senior year. 

While this may seem like a negative thing to know, keep in mind that senior year grades play a significant role in changing your position on college waitlists. If you continue to show your commitment and ability to handle a large workload, this may make you stand out from other applicants who choose a more “laid-back” senior year.

Finally, for students who are looking for money for school, scholarships are a key way to achieve this goal. Seniors are able to start applying for scholarships starting as early as the summer before senior year and throughout senior year. As such, your senior year grades from the first semester will be a part of this process and will be taken into consideration. 

Senior year will be a stressful time for all of the students applying to colleges, balancing the academic workload, and keeping up with extracurricular activities. While many incoming seniors, including myself, want to make this next year as memorable and enjoyable as possible, I strongly recommend that you take advantage of the opportunities provided to you and not let this upcoming year go to waste.

 

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About the Contributor
Lyla Carney
Lyla Carney, Staff Writer
Lyla Carney is a junior at Lake Forest High School and is thrilled to be a first-year writer for The Forest Scout! Lyla is a devoted member of the Varsity Dance Team, and is involved in Student Council, Scout Buddies, and Student to Student. Outside of school, you can most likely find her blasting Taylor Swift in her car, hanging out with family and friends, or walking her dog, Chippy, by the beach!
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  • A

    anonymousApr 14, 2024 at 10:28 pm

    no offense but as a senior i really think you will regret having “increased your rigor”. not only was first semester the worst grades i’ve had throughout my entire high school career (and not for lack of trying) but i feel like i’ve ruined my second semester by only studying and playing sports. i play two sports and take 5 ap courses with 6 exams coming up and i haven’t relaxed since last summer. good luck.

    Reply
  • J

    Jeff stevensonApr 12, 2024 at 3:01 pm

    I do not agree with this at all. But its definitily one of the opinions of all time!

    Reply
  • A

    AnonymousApr 12, 2024 at 8:36 am

    I ain’t gonna read all that yip yap. Based on the title imma tell you right now you’re wrong. “Im eNroLLed iN varIouS Ap ClasSess☝️ 🤓” GOOD FOR YOU!!!! THE REST DON’T WANNA PUT THAT MUCH WORK IN DURING OUR LAST YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL.

    Reply