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8 Ways to Stand Out as an Incoming High School Senior

Finishing Strong 💪: Words of Wisdom for Incoming High School Seniors to Stand Out This Fall


Student walking in classroom
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Senior year is a beautiful struggle. The final year of high school is filled with joy and celebrations you will recall and laugh about with your classmates for the rest of your lives, but also comes with the realization you are leaving the positive and supportive school communities you’ve recently become the leaders of.

While the start of the 2021-22 school year is shaping up to be another unique experience, there are some tried and true ways to make your senior year memorable AND be prepared for college applications this fall.

Finish Strong 💪

Make a Great Final Impression ✨

Your fall semester of senior year is your final opportunity to show colleges you are serious about your education. If you’ve always been academically strong, this is your chance to prove it again. If you’ve shown continued growth in high school, make this your best semester yet!  

Challenge Yourself 🎯

Speak with your college counselor about any additional opportunities to take 🎓 college-level courses this semester. Colleges are looking for students who take advantage of the rigorous course offerings available to them. Seek out dual-enrollment courses to earn high school AND college credits from online programs such as, local community college courses, or college-level courses within your school day.   

Complete Your FAFSA 🗄️

Don’t Delay 🏁

All eligible seniors should start their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) beginning on October 1, 2021. Regardless of your family’s financial circumstances, all eligible students should apply, as receiving state financial aid and institutional financial aid could be tied to completing your FAFSA correctly and on time. Even some private scholarships you apply for might require completing your FAFSA.  

Ask for Help ✋

You can schedule a meeting with your school’s college counselor or use other resources like the FAFSA4caster to see what information you will need, like parent/guardian financial information, and other essential documents. Get common questions answered online, or get live help from the United States Department of Education.

For more help, check out this article about applying for the FAFSA!

🚨BEWARE Many websites try to trick you into giving them your personal information or charging you to complete the FAFSA, but remember, the first F stands for FREE!

Find your Best-Fit College 🔎

Visit In Person 📍

Try to visit as many colleges 🏫 with your family as possible before you submit 📪 your college applications. Picture yourself at each school, and reflect on what you liked (or didn’t like). This process will let you determine what you value most in each school.

For help with choosing which colleges to visit, check out this article!

Attend College Fairs 🤝

Whether at your school or virtually, try to meet the local admissions officers in your region. It is possible to make a good impression on someone who could be evaluating you for acceptance to their school or potential scholarship opportunities.

Start the Common App 📝

Accepted by over 900 schools, the Common App allows students to apply to multiple colleges across the United States and even some international schools. Make sure to check that all your best-fit schools accept it, and don’t wait, the Common App opened on August 1st, 2021.

Visit this page for more great tips on finding the right schools to apply to.

Ask for your Recommendation Letters ✉️

Find Your Champions 🏆

Begin reaching out to the teachers, counselors, coaches, and administrators at your school who have seen you at your best ✨ This could be someone who can speak to your excellence in class, in a club, or on the athletic field, or can attest to your personal and academic growth 📈 through high school. Your school may have guidelines in place, so make sure to follow those.  Make sure to send in your requests ASAP; faculty may have a limit to how many they will write for each senior class.

Check out this guide about asking for a recommendation letter!

Don’t be Afraid to Brag 😎

It’s not bragging if it’s true 💁 Create a brag sheet that you can share with your recommenders so they know who you are and can write the best possible narrative of why you deserve a seat at your best-fit college. Make sure you share anything you would be comfortable with a college admissions officer reading, including personal obstacles you have overcome.

Put the EXTRA in Extracurriculars 😮‍💨

Be a Leader 🗣️

As a senior, this is your chance to showcase your commitment to inspiring others in clubs/activities, student government, and sports. Seek out roles that align with your best qualities and are authentic to your passions and interests.

Be the Change 🙌

Get involved with volunteer and mentoring opportunities in person or virtually. Give your time to helping others, and if there is not an organization out there, create one alongside your classmates and faculty at your school!

Guide Outline

Check out these other guides that you might need.