Less than a month into the school year, most of the seniors have two main hobbies: wishing to be in college and being sorry that high school is nearly over. With the end of my normal habits, my normal school, and even my normal home in sight, I have a lot more on my mind than I did at this time any other year.

I’ve heard beautiful stories about the easiness of senior year, but they apparently don’t apply to people who fill their schedules with APs—I really shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up. Combine the average struggle to finish homework and prepare for tests with the stress of trying to embody my worth as a human being in a Common App essay, and the first quarter of senior year is more stressful than average.

In contrast to high schoolers, most college students seem delighted with their lives. I’ve spent all of high school hearing about how wonderful college will be. Every year, when students return for the Freshman Panel, I find myself wishing I could transplant myself into their lives and skip over some of the less fun parts of high school. Somehow, even college students at the most rigorous schools manage to make their lives sound like an extended vacation. How bad can even the most intimidating pile of homework be when someone is surrounded by fascinating people, extravagant buildings and idyllic landscapes?

Part of me wishes I could put my life on fast forward and rush to the part where I’m adventuring in an exciting place and enjoying new opportunities. But those feelings are kept in check by sentimentality, because I really do enjoy high school despite its flaws. Overall, Country Day defies a lot of the horror stories I’ve heard about the high-school experience. The teachers are interesting and care about what they’re doing. I rarely find myself swamped with busy work. The notions of stereotypical cliques and social hierarchies don’t really apply. Students are given an impressive amount of freedom. Most importantly, I like the people at Country Day and don’t relish the idea of having to build a new social circle from scratch.

Never before have my thoughts had to be so oriented around the future. When much of what I do and think about has to do with making sure I end up at the right college, the present starts to feel less important.  In my attempts to reconcile my desire to be in college with my sadness about high school being nearly over, I’ve come to the fairly obvious conclusion that I should try to appreciate my senior year and not just see it as a means to an end.

Getting into college is important, but GPAs, SAT scores, and even essays are a poor representation of four years of my life. I’ve expended a lot of energy and frustration for the sake of those things, but there’s no need to give them too much meaning. High school in itself has been a good experience, and hopefully college, whether it’s Harvard or Sac State, will be even better.

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