Senior year has commenced and it’s an exciting time of “Only one more year left!” and “I can’t wait for college!” Not to mention senior sunrise, the last homecoming game you’ll go to, the school spirit rallies and other senior events that will be going on. But that first semester is still a stressful one, even with all of the fun times happening around you. You'll experience normal school stress, life-changing chaos and the exciting, yet terrifying, college applications. It’s a little overwhelming, but hopefully these six tips help you navigate your way through first semester with a success story at the finish line.

1. Stop caring about what others think.

This applies to many different scenarios senior year. Don’t care about what people in the hallway are going to think of your hair that day. Don’t care about what your classmates will think when you have to present in front of the class. But especially don’t care what anyone thinks when you apply to college. When you start applying, people like to insert their own ideas. They’ll try to tell you which school they think is better or give you other suggestions than the one you’re currently looking at. You can listen to them if you want, and some do offer great advice and new places you haven’t thought of before, but remember you are in control of your own opinions.

2. It's okay to make mistakes.

We hear our parents say this, Bob Ross tries to tell us every episode and we see it on an inspirational quote Pinterest board, but we don’t always listen to this timeless piece of advice. Now is the moment to take this saying to heart. Mistakes are going to happen senior year. Maybe you’ll forget to ask a teacher for a letter of recommendation, you won’t get the grade you wanted on an essay or you’ll spend too much time binge-watching Netflix instead of hanging out with friends. The point is, mistakes are unavoidable, but it’s what you do to try and fix those mistakes and improve for the next occurrence that matter in the long run.

3. Stay organized.

There’s a lot of information trying to cram into your brain first semester. There’s college application requirements, application deadlines, SAT registration and test dates and plus normal due dates for required school work. It’s a lot and it can seem daunting to manage, but finding the right organization method for you will help take the weight off of your shoulders. Maybe that’s making spread sheets, writing everything down in a planner, making a timeline of important dates, filing everything into separate folders or making a to do list on your phone. If you can manage to stay organized then you’ll create less chaos for yourself by staying on top of things, and plus if you keep it up then you’ll be in top shape for college life.

4. Get Involved.

If you’ve been the kind of person to pass on sporting events or going to your school’s choir gala, then now is the time to change it. Yes, the first semester is about making sure you turn in applications on time while still maintaining good grades, but that doesn’t mean you should cross off all the fun activities. This is your last chance to experience football games, the fall musical, pep rallies, trying out for the science quiz team and joining that club you always said you would. Read the posters that are up around your school, instead of just walking by them. Listen to the daily announcements, instead of just ignoring them. Dress up for spirit days and don’t be afraid to go all out. Senior year is the year to be involved in your school, and you’ve got to start that during first semester. Plus, a little break from all the stress to do something fun doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

5. Don't say "yes" all the time.

Once you start paying attention to everything that’s going on during and after school, you might realize there’s a lot you want to accomplish. The unfortunate thing is we can’t be in multiple places at once, so we can’t say yes to every activity we want to do. If you pile your activities list too high then you risk facing a lot of unnecessary stress. You’ve already got a pretty tough load with classes, college applications and other activities (like a sport or a job) that you’ve been doing previously. So even though you may really want to join the Harry Potter Movie Marathon Club that meets every day at lunch, make sure you have room in your schedule to do so before you agree to bring the popcorn.

6. Make the most of every moment.

You will hear this comment the most whenever someone gives you any advice on senior year, and that makes it easy to ignore this one, but don’t! If you’re making the most of every moment then you’ll find yourself having a more positive outlook and you’ll also have so many great memories to share. Because instead of just being passive, you’re choosing to be in the moment, even if the current moment isn’t your favorite. So change your lock screen to this quote, write it on your hand every day, put sticky notes with these words on them all over your mirror and repeat this phrase every time you walk into school in the morning. Because if you stick by this advice, then you’re bound to have a first semester (and a whole year) of success!

Hopefully these six pieces of advice help you navigate the first semester of senior year with all of its crazy challenges. You may be wishing high school was just over already, but you really won’t want to miss a thing. So go start the year off right and make some lasting memories!

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