The start of a new school year brings with it the usual angst that accompanies the final stretch run for high school seniors.  With SAT’s and ACT’s to take and in some cases re-take and applications to begin filling out, the start of senior year can many times prove to be overwhelming for students and their parents.  My first bit of advice is to breathe.  This may seem oversimplified, but sometimes it is the best approach when there seems like too much to do.  It is the same advice I give to my fourth-grader when he comes to me in a panic about the two tests and a project he has coming up on the same day.  It has been my experience that very little good results from panicking; and, while the totality of what has to be done may seem daunting, when you take the time to break things down into smaller tasks, before you know it you will be well on your way to achieving your ultimate goal.  While the following list is by no means exhaustive, these are the tips I would give my own children:

Get organized –If you are already organized, congratulations you can skip ahead to the next tip.  So much of your success depends on staying focused and on schedule; and, all of these things are easier to achieve if you organize your lives.  I am not merely referring to cleaning up your room or your car, although that might not be a bad place to start.   The kind of organization of which I speak involves file folders and planners and the occasional app.  I could tell you the horror stories of students who missed out on financial aid because they missed the application deadline, or students who failed to gain acceptance to their top choice because they didn’t turn in all of their essays; but, for most kids, these tales of woe fall on deaf ears.  No one thinks this will ever happen to them; but, I am here to tell you that it is easier than you think to lose track of which school you have sent your transcripts to and which one still needs your counselor’s recommendation when you are applying to eight schools.  Being organized will not only save you time, it will also save you a great deal of frustration as the application deadlines approach.

Stay involved –For some reason that I have never quite figured out, many seniors feel like the race is over once their senior year begins, and that the majority of the year is little more than a victory lap where they can revel in their accomplishments.  My advice for those who wish to avoid this early onset of senioritis is to stay involved.  Stay involved in the extracurricular activities that have helped to define your high school experience; Stay involved in the classes that will serve as a culmination of your academic journey; and, stay involved in your community which has molded you into who you are.  Colleges are looking for students who truly make the most of their entire high school career; and, contrary to what some students think, that career does not end until you cross the stage with diploma in hand.

Enjoy the ride –It is easy to get caught up in the drama that comes with the college application process and forget to enjoy the moment.  I know that some students think their lives will come to an end if they do not get into It University; but, that could not be farther from the truth.  I can say this now because I dealt with that rejection and have lived to tell the tale.  While the destination is important, don’t forget to enjoy the ride!  There are numerous colleges and universities where success can be found for each and every student; but, you will never get the chance to relive your senior year.