Dear EHHS Class of 2020,
My senior year is coming to an end, that means it’s going to be your turn sooner than you think. I thought it might be helpful to have someone who has gone through many of the experiences of senior year share a bit of advice with you.
Make sure you enjoy your summer, but if you plan on going to college after graduation you should start looking around and researching colleges that may interest you. The summer between your junior and senior year is the perfect time to go college shopping. Visit as many campuses as possible (and be sure to stop in all of the campus bookstores to grab yourself a t-shirt!). Try to get a feel for what kind of campus and atmosphere you are looking for. Figure out if you want to be on a small or big campus if you want to be in the city or in a more secluded and calm campus. Sometimes you know as soon as you pull up to the campus that the school isn’t for you. That’s how I felt when I visited Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. I knew that the campus was not big enough for me and that I would not be happy there. I would have never known that I didn’t like it there unless I visited the campus. Whatever you do, do not stress out about finding the perfect fit, everything will work out. As you visit campuses and find out more information about them, write down the name of the colleges and what you like about them. Cross them off the list if you decide not to apply. Making a list will help you stay organized and keep your sanity.
Once you figure out where to apply (if that’s what you choose) you should start writing your college application essay. Some colleges have a set prompt while others ask for a personal narrative style essay where you talk about yourself. Make sure your essay is not just rewriting your resume, try using a story from your life that changed how you think about the world or changed you as a person. Whatever you decide to write about, do not send in the first draft of your essay, have a friend look over to make sure it captures who you are and comes across properly, and then ask one of your English teachers to read through your essay for grammar mistakes as well as suggestion on content. You want this essay to represent you as a person, the things that make you, you!
When you finish writing your essay, go through Common App and pick the schools you want to apply to. If you visited any colleges that you still want to apply to, check and see if they offer an application fee waiver to students who attended an open house. The application process can be time-consuming and stressful so you will need to schedule your time so you do not have to rush and do them all at the last minute. Some colleges have required essay questions that will need some thought put into them so time management will be key. I think the most important thing I took away from the application process is to constantly check your emails. This will be a habit that will help you throughout your academic as well as professional life.
Try to think about who in the school community knows you best, maybe one of your coaches or teachers. If you feel comfortable, try to get a teacher who taught you a subject related to your future major. As you figure that out, ask them if they would write a letter of recommendation for you. When I asked for my letters, I asked my Chemistry teacher since I am going into a science related field. Make sure you give your teachers plenty of time to write their recommendations since many teachers have multiple kids asking for their letters as well. Be sure to write them a thank you note after they have submitted their letter into Common App to thank them for taking the time to help you.
Most colleges will send you a student number that you can use to log into their portal, these will be important as time goes on. Make sure you keep all of your student ID numbers in a safe place. To keep all of mine together I used a piece of notebook paper and wrote all of the numbers and passwords down and labeled them. Since they were all on one sheet of paper, it was easy to keep track of. Make sure you check your emails and the portals for each college, sometimes the colleges need more information from you before they can process your application.
When it comes to deciding, do not just choose the cheapest school to avoid debt. If you are going to be spending thousands of dollars on your education you should choose a place where you feel comfortable and want to be. Make it worth the money you are about to spend. You will need to look at what each school has to offer you and how you feel on that campus (if you are able to visit). This school will be your home for at least the next 4 years, you should feel excited to be there. I know that I can’t tell you how you should feel on campus, but what I can say is when you know you know.
Remember to not worry about what the future holds, things will work out and you will find your place in the world! Make sure you spend plenty of time with family and friends and make everyday count! Good luck next year and all the years that will follow.
EHHS Class of 2019,
University of Maine Class of 2023