A word of advice

Seniors reflect on their high school experience and give a word of advice for the underclassman

Uma Limaye, staffer

The second semester of school is in full swing, and students are scrambling to measure up to the academic rigor of the third quarter. With AP classes amping up the course load, winter sports in full swing, and multiple assignments and tests to take on, many wish that this time of year could go faster. However, for seniors, it’s the beginning of the end.

In her last semester of high school and wrapping things up before college, Maegan Smarkausky (‘23) looks back at the 4 years she spent here and how they’ve changed her, she picked sophomore year as her favorite,

“My favorite year of high school was sophomore year. I started taking classes that I was really interested in, AP Capstone taught me to love writing that year,” Smarkausky said.

As an AP scholar, Smarkausky grew as a person and as a writer throughout her high school experience. However, she also recognizes that it wasn’t always easy,

“The most difficult year of high school for me was junior year. I was probably doing the most inside and outside of school that year; sometimes I found rationing out my time was hard,” said Smarkausky.

In accordance with Smakausky, many high schoolers stand by junior year being the most difficult, and senior year is the easiest since it’s the last stretch of high school. Stella Tucker (‘23) disagrees with this notion,

“The first semester of my senior year was where  I struggled most. Juggling grades and college applications at the same time was a challenge,” said Tucker.

In contrast to Smarkausky, Adia D’Piazza (‘23) believes that 11th grade was a year that impacted her positively,

“I believe I grew the most junior year because junior year I went through a major change in self-identity… [I] came out with a whole new mindset, a new group of friends, and a stronger bond with my family.” said D’ Piazza.

Meanwhile, Tucker notes that junior year was her favorite due to the sense of direction it gave her in terms of her interests and potential career path,

“It was the year I felt like I was reaching my full academic potential…I got the chance to do and publish independent original research that year, an experience that was completely invaluable. That’s when I learned I wanted to go into science and academia as a career…[and] that I was capable of doing it in the first place,” said Tucker.

As they prepare to finish off the school year and face the world independently, these seniors have also learned a lot from their four years of high school and advise the underclassmen to prepare for the future and make the most of their time,

“Don’t waste your summers…I’m talking papers, internships, community projects— whatever! Just do something worthwhile,” Smarkausky said.

However, they also stress the importance of letting go.

“My advice to next year’s seniors would be not to stress so much about your future. You are still young and you should still have fun while you get the opportunity to,” said D’Piazza.

On a similar note, Tucker emphasizes the importance of recognizing personal needs,

“Remember to still prioritize yourself during the admissions process. The idea of a rejection sucks but you are more than an application. Also don’t waste time applying to schools you know you won’t go to even if you get in…it is a lot of work to do the applications for each school and it is better to prioritize quality over quantity,” Tucker said.

In the end, high school is a time of learning and self-expression. It’s about taking on responsibilities like an adult, but also about being a kid, Smarkausky encourages next year’s seniors to be bold,

“Now’s the time to be weird. You’ve got one year left, what do you care if you make a fool out of yourself? Take chances…The fact that you may never see some of your peers again can be so freeing if you change your perspective.”

With much to consider as the finish line gets closer for this year’s juniors, the seniors serve as a reminder that at the end of your high school journey, a new one begins.