My childhood, and childhood in general, was full of lies.
“I’m leaving without you, Max!”
Lie – my mom didn’t ever leave me alone in the store.
“Now be a good boy or Santa won’t get you anything nice.”
Lie – sadly, Santa isn’t real.
“You cannot use a calculator! You won’t always have one with you.
Lie – I always carry a calculator (phone) in my pocket.
Maybe “lies” is too strong a word, but, nonetheless, I’d guessed that my high-school experience would be at least a tad “truthier.”
But I was wrong.
As a junior, I felt as if my entire existence was devoted to getting into college.
But, at the same time, juniors think, “Sure, I’ll have to take a ton of AP’s, and, sure, I’ll slap on the extracurriculars. But that’s okay because everyone says senior year is easy!”
I’m sorry, but you juniors are wrong. I don’t love to be that guy, but I’m here to tell the truth.
I mean, it makes sense.
Junior year, I was trudging through this harsh proverbial desert, searching for water. And, by the end, I was already spent.
But I kept my head up, rubbed the sand out of my eyes, and, just a few feet in front of me, saw an oasis with beautiful, shimmering water and bountiful fruit trees – also known as senior year.
But that, my friends, was a mirage.
And that’s part of what makes senior year difficult. At the start of the fourth year of high school, I already needed a break.
It’s when I started college applications that I realized senior year wouldn’t be a breeze.
First, there’s the actual process, during which seniors have only a few months to decide where they want to spend their next four years and their family’s savings (upwards of $200,000).
And if you’re someone who can’t afford the extremely reasonable price of $30,000+ a year, then you also have to worry about financial aid.
Oh, and don’t forget the essays, which require seniors to reduce their existential significance to 500 words or fewer.
But on top of making life-changing decision, seniors have to work harder in their extracurriculars – yes, even harder than in junior year.
Take senior Emma Williams, who was promoted to editor-in-chief of the Octagon.
“Being editor-in-chief essentially means that I do everything I did last year plus more stories and more pages, and I’m ultimately responsible for everything else in the print edition,” she said.
And for those of you who don’t know how much work that is, Williams says that her time commitment has tripled – from three hours a week junior year (not including paste-up or class) to eight senior year.
But maybe you won’t be in a demanding extracurricular next year.
Even so, you have to worry about catching a terrible disease – an insidious infection that eats away at the few remaining crumbs of motivation you may have left, as your GPA flatlines.
First of all, as I said earlier, everyone loses steam by senior year. But this is compounded by the fact that twelfth-grade teachers are much more lenient with due dates.
In Daniel Neukom’s AP European history class, which I had the pleasure of taking, he doesn’t check that you’ve read the homework.
Really, you’re on your own, and the only impactful graded assessments are tests and occasional map assignments.
Now, I get it. Teachers are preparing seniors for college, where grades are more dependent on exams and where professors are more hands-off, but this leniency can lead to some rampant procrastination.
In the case of AP Euro, I didn’t read a chapter until three weeks after it was assigned (please don’t hurt me, Mr. Neukom) because it was really, really easy to procrastinate.
And Glenn Mangold, teacher of AP Physics C, has much the same policy.
But wait, there’s more!
If you’re a talented procrastinator such as myself, you have to worry about graduation requirements, too.
Because I had only four trimesters of P.E. credit, I had to play two sports senior year. And since I waited until the last minute, I had to do two sports in the same season.
You don’t want to do this. There were days when I had to be in three places at once. Literally.
Also, while I have only a few hours of community service to finish, senior Alex Bushberg had 15 hours left as of a few weeks ago.
And if you think I’m being overly dramatic about senior year, then let’s look at the facts.
In a recent Octagon poll, a third of the seniors rated this year as their hardest.
“(Last year’s seniors) lied to us,” senior Skovran Cunningham said.
But now that it’s over, all I can do is hope that college will be different – that the untruths will stop.
College is supposed to be “the best four years of your life.”
It better be.
Previously published in the print edition on May 26, 2015.