Surviving senior year 101

By Julie Vargas, Senior Year

Senior writer Julie Vargas shares her tips for getting through senior year. 

When I got through junior year, I thought the worst of high school was behind me. SAT and ACT exams were over! The most important year of high school was over! All the pain and stress was over! BUT in the first semester of senior year, I found myself facing a whole new set of challenges. 

As a student who’s applying to colleges while taking challenging courses and working a part-time job, here are some of my tips for surviving—and maybe even thriving—during senior year. 


Seven to eight hours of sleep and naps are key to a happy life. We always hear adults say this and we often shrug it off because it seems impossible to actually get enough sleep. No matter how much homework you have, do not stay up late to finish reading for AP Literature (sorry Mr. Barker). Of course, it’s important to turn in major assignments on time, so make sure you have a set schedule that you follow.


Speaking of which, make a calendar where you write down important deadlines and events. I have a calendar that I use on a daily basis and it has made my life ten times easier. I also count down the number of days we have left before a break just as a way to motivate myself. I recommend using highlighters, block letters and symbols to make it clear and organized. 


DON’T WAIT UNTIL SENIOR YEAR TO TAKE HEALTH CLASS. I’ve said it over and over again: “I’ll take health next year.” Then senior year arrived, and now I can’t just push it off another year. I’m taking the online version, and while it’s not a difficult course, it’s definitely time-consuming. There are five units, each with numerous reading assignments, quizzes and projects. Don’t make the same mistake I made! For your sake, take health as soon as possible. 


Make sure college apps and homework are on your radar. I often chose to hang out with friends because I thought I needed a well-deserved break, however, college applications are no joke and, on top of schoolwork, it is a lot to handle. By just telling yourself “if I finish this assignment by a certain time, I can go out for an X amount of time,” you are setting yourself for success. It’s important to find a balance between mental health and productivity. 


Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Los Altos has a large support system, so make sure you take advantage of the resources the school provides. There are college visits throughout the year, workshops for college essays and mental health resources; These are just a few of the resources the school provides—and they’re all free. So far, I have had six different people read and revise my college essays, and I received a lot of beneficial information from attending college visits. 


Last but certainly not least, believe in yourself. Senior year is a lot of work, but it’s going to be okay. You finally made it to senior year, now make the most of it! As for seniors, we’re basically on the last lap of a “Mario Kart” race, and we got this! Finish off strong.