Parents of High School Juniors – Prepare for Senior Year!

Published by Wendy Nelson on

Notebook, pens and books

This post was originally written in May of 2013. That oldest daughter I talked about below just graduated with a Master’s Degree on a Full Tuition Scholarship and monthly living stipend! I have made a few updates below.

Do you have a high school Junior who is soon to be a Senior?  If so, you need to be prepared for your student’s senior year of high school.  It will be a rough one!  There will be ups, there will be downs, there will probably be lots of nagging from you and lots of resistance from your child.

I would have to say that senior year for my oldest daughter, which thankfully ended last week, was the hardest year of high school to weather as a parent.  First, there was a fall of pushing her to complete college applications while juggling school work and the cross country team.  Then there was the impatience and anticipation of waiting for college acceptances over a long winter of late night studying and writing papers.  Next came the big push to do local scholarship applications while fighting senioritis, attending late night track meets and school events and completing never-ending piles of homework.  Finally, it was time to study for AP exams.  There were many heated discussions during the year and my husband and I repeatedly were told, “I’m not stupid!” when reminding our daughter to do something.  We felt the stress of her busy schedule too.  In the end, it was all worth it.  She is graduating third in her class, up from eighth after first semester this year, her graduation gown will be adorned with several medals and cords, she won two local scholarships, chose a college that will be a great fit for her and received a hefty merit scholarship.  We can all breathe a sigh of relief, at least for a few months.

Out of my own experience living with a high school senior, I have some advice to share with all of you who will soon be living through this.

  • Help your student stay organized with the college application process.  17-year-olds do not have the mental ability to track multiple deadlines and understand realistically how close they are.  I found that it’s easiest to track these on a spreadsheet.  You can download my College Search Spreadsheet template for this.
  • Try not to nag.  This one was really hard for me.  I kept thinking, “Why isn’t she taking this more seriously?”  You have to balance reminders of upcoming deadlines against making it sound like you are nagging.  One lesson I learned was that the dinner table is not a good time to talk about college applications.
  • Help your student find and keep track of scholarship opportunities.  Our high school guidance office had a great listing of scholarships available month-by-month, but we needed a way to track when each application was due and what was needed for each.  A spreadsheet would work well for this. You can download my Scholarship Tracker Spreadsheet clicking here: Scholarship Tracker.
  • Encourage your student to stick to an easily manageable number of activities during senior year.  There are so many time commitments senior year that I ended up feeling like my daughter could have dropped a couple extracurricular activities.  Colleges prefer to see a deep commitment to a few activities rather than a light commitment to many.  High school seniors will have less stress if they limit the demands on their time.
  • Give your student permission to have “down time.”  I always wanted to say, “Why aren’t you working on something?  You have deadlines coming up!”  It was hard for me to accept that, like myself, my daughter needed to “goof off” occasionally.

Parents of high school Junior, good luck with the college application process and all of Senior year!  It will all be over way too soon, so take some time to enjoy your student’s senior year, celebrate the successes, provide encouragement when it seems so hard, and provide rewards when deadlines are met.  Senior year can lead your student to great things ahead.


Jen Cook · July 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Great tips! Especially allowing your kid to have down time, that one was hard for me too!

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