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Dear Underclassmen: do not procrastinate

Wading into high school is like being thrown into an ocean. Each story and piece of advice swims around you. Some try to grab hold and take you down; others keep you safe, and with all of this information, the goal is to try not to mess everything up and hopefully come out of the waters successful.

In that ocean, junior year is the shark. It’s common knowledge around RBHS, and probably many other high schools, that junior year is the hardest year.

When my sophomore year was wrapping up, my sister trumpeted on and on about how she barely got through 11th grade and how demanding the year was. She said it is the time that I’d take some of my hardest classes to fill graduation requirements, and I’d have a full schedule in hopes of making senior year just a little easier, but it’d be worth it when senior year came around.

Those around me, including my sister, said senior year was going to go by fast and be stress-free and exciting. But if you ask me, senior year has been the hardest year of my high school career. It isn’t difficult because of the classes I’m taking or a packed schedule, but because of all of the preparation and planning for what comes after being a senior.

No one ever told me how difficult it was to decide on and apply to colleges. There are hundreds of colleges and universities to choose from, and even more when adding in technical colleges and career centers. Taking into account what I want, who I am and where I want to be in 10 years, I had to sift through this vast domain.

In my case, the first month of senior year, I changed my mind about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go to college, and I had to research and find another path.

I don’t think I am unique in changing my mind. In addition to knowing what you want to do, while you’re still a high school senior, along with finding schools, you have so many things to mark off the checklist. First is researching schools and finalizing a list.

After your list of schools is made, it’s essential to go on college visits and research the schools even more. Then the checklist includes applying to these schools, if you haven’t already, writing essays, then applying for scholarships and writing more essays, all while trying to stay focused on classes and grades in high school.

Not to mention, senior year is so expensive when you include the cost of a cap and gown, prom, senior pictures, college application fees, ACT expenses and other senior activities.

In a study done by the Newark New Jersey Star Ledger in 2013, senior year costs were anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000. It’s this year that consumes so much time and money, and it’s sprung at you too soon.

If I could give any single piece of advice to juniors, sophomores and even freshmen, it would be to start thinking about college now. I changed my mind senior year because I had no clue what the process looked like. I went into the year thinking I had everything figured out, but I was no where close.

If I had given any sort of thought prior to 12th grade or had been given resources that required me to give some thought, I might have  completely changed my mind. I wouldn’t have felt like a deer in headlights when it came down to it all.

Although it seems so far away, graduation creeps up on you, which is why I hope I can really inspire underclassmen and juniors to get informed. High school may feel like it’s  going to drown you, but it goes by so fast. Every moment, class, grade and activity really does matter toward your future.

By Renata Williams

Art by Maddy Mueller

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