My PhiloSophie

Pandemic Guinea Pigs

Senior year.

It’s finally here. The moment we’ve been waiting for for four whole years.

The long awaited senior sweatshirts, crowns, rally, homecoming, winter formal (if it’ll ever actually happen?), water assassins, prom, gradnight and graduation. Except now, we’re in the middle of an unpredictable global pandemic.

Remember when we all felt bad for 2020 seniors missing the last three months of the school year? I guess now is an apt time for the nevertheless-cliché expression, “Look how the tables have turned.”

Without the risk of COVID-19, senior year was already going to be the most stressful year of high school. The difficult aspects of this year – taking the SAT or ACT, sitting through subject tests, writing college essays, applying to and visiting colleges, all while severely suffering senioritis – were going to be complicated enough already.

How are we – the pandemic guinea pigs – supposed to navigate this “new normal” version of senior year?

Don’t be alarmed! However frightening this might seem during these – dare I say – unprecedented times, I’ll be here for you throughout this whole unfamiliar process to relate to and also maybe learn from the inevitable mistakes I’ll make.

Personally, I’ve submitted 12 of my 14 applications through the Common App. I’m a little ahead of schedule, so don’t panic! Not meaning to stress you out or anything, but now is the time to start your applications. I vividly remember creating my Common App account, opening the application and seeing the millions of pages of empty boxes for me to fill with writing. The stress that filled my body was all-consuming, like nothing I’ve ever experienced to do with academics before. 

Try not to be afraid, though, because the empty boxes will quickly be filled. 

I highly recommend shutting yourself in your room or another quiet space, playing some background music (bonus points if it’s without distracting lyrics) and putting your phone somewhere out of sight. This working method can be applied to normal school work as well as college applications. If I’m being completely honest, this is exactly what I’m doing right now so I can finish this column the night before it’s due.

Although your phone should be away, don’t completely limit yourself. Take breaks from writing so you don’t get too brain-tired and reward yourself with some screen time or snacks – which if you took AP Psych you’ll recognize as positive reinforcement.

Yes, you can perform psychology tricks on yourself. If anything, I’d recommend that you do.

I would also like to add: don’t feel pressured to go down the college path if that’s not what’s meant for you, especially in this unique time. Maybe consider taking a gap year, doing college a “different” way – such as online or at a community college to save some money – or even immediately apply for jobs. Though it might not seem like a viable option in our college degree-valuing society, you’ll find the right path for your life regardless of other peoples’ opinions.

While we don’t know what senior year and college may bring, I’ll be happy to give some more tried-and-true advice along the way to anyone that might be reading.

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