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The Final Curtain Call | Zoey Preston

The school year is coming to a close and I’m almost done with my junior year nightmare. AP exams are over, and now we’re on the last stretch to finish out the final three weeks; I couldn’t be more excited for summer.

However, this is a strange time because after three years at CCA, we juniors are being ushered into the last chapter of high school.

On one hand, I’m watching all my senior friends commit to college, plan their graduation, contemplate their dorm rooms, say their goodbyes to their favorite teachers. It’s bittersweet; I’m not sure if or when I’ll see them after school ends, but it’s exciting to watch them figure out what they’re doing with their futures and plans for college. It’s definitely interesting to see them go through that process, knowing that that’ll be us in a year. By May 2023, we’ll know where we’re going to college come fall.

On the other hand, though, I’m being confronted with my own future. The conversation is no longer about what classes I’ll be taking, it’s about applications and college tours and majors and careers. And as cool as all of that is, it’s also terrifying.

This weekend I took a trip to Colorado to visit some of the schools – my first college visits. Before I’d actually toured a campus, college was just a thing, some place I knew I would end up going to eventually but couldn’t visualize. But setting foot on a campus and trying to imagine what life would be like there, trying to imagine myself there, was completely different and honestly really thought provoking. It put college life into a whole new perspective and brought my thoughts on the next year of my life to the forefront.

In 365 days, I’ll be preparing myself to run off to some college on the other side of the country, somewhere strange and new and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It feels like it’s far away, but it also feels so close. And it’s weird, because somehow I feel like I just got here. In some ways, this was like my first year at CCA – it was my first full year on campus. It was my first year where I really got to take advantage of the high school experience.

Still, as uncertain as our journeys next year seem, it’ll be an adventure trying to figure out what the next chapter of our lives will look like. To all my junior friends who feel the same way as me, though, I want to share some quick advice given to me that I personally found to be very valuable when considering the next year of my life.

Firstly, I was told to start working on my applications this summer – my college counselor stressed this a lot. By getting your apps started earlier in the summer, you’ll take some of the pressure off yourself this fall and probably have the free time and better mind space to work on essays instead of being exhausted by school. You won’t have to rush to finish the deadline and you can make sure that what you’re submitting is quality.

The best thing anyone has told me about college essays – and this is coming from my neighbor who works with colleges around the country and knows lots about the admissions process – is to show them that you know who you are. As cliche as that sounds, it’s true: use your applications as a way to show your character and what assets you bring to the table. Write about something important to you that you can reflect on and show your voice. Write about something specific and personal so that you can show the college that you understand yourself.

Third, enjoy the process. My college counselor says this all the time: college is amazing and this time in our lives, as stressful as it may be, should be exciting too. Have fun with it and take a little pressure off yourself. Easier said than done, I know, but by making my time prepping for college as painless as possible, I’ve found that I can feel energized about the process instead of being completely drained.

I could throw as many inspirational words about college at you as I want, but the truth is, all we can do is our best. Remember, we’re all going into this together. Senior year will be tough – watching my senior friends go through it has shown me that, for sure. But there will be incredibly fun moments to look forward to as well. Let’s try and take it in stride, roll with the punches, and finish out our last year of high school strong.

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