Albert Corvah is a former student member of the Howard County Board of Education. He writes this week to HCPSS seniors about his experience as a first-year student at Harvard University and the keys to high school senior-year success.
Dear Class of 2015:
About a year ago now, I was in a similar situation that many of you may be in right now: waiting for and considering opportunities about college. Last March, I officially committed to Harvard and, in retrospect, I couldn’t have made a better decision.
My first semester of college was more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. I, like many other first year college students, faced early difficulties with an intense workload and in time management. However, tackling those challenges head on helped me take more ownership of my learning and developed within me what one of my professors called “the joy of self-discovery.”
I was fortunate to make a few meaningful relationships early in my college career and because of meeting and getting to know different people, I was better able to adjust to my new environment. I feel like I learned and continue to learn more about how the world works outside of the classroom, where I’ve met people who are similar to me in some ways, but completely different in others. This is perhaps the most significant gain of my college experience thus far: having my worldview shaped than it has ever been in my lifetime.
I’ve never worked this hard before—but I’ve also never had as much fun along the way.
As you settle in from winter break, you will have midterms and will be on the road to graduation. I know you are excited as you think about life beyond high school. Slow down and take this time to savor the time remaining in your senior year.
Some tips for ending your senior year:
1. Be active
Go to as many events as you can over the school year. Take more administrative roles in the clubs you’re in. This is your last semester of high school, so immersing yourself in the culture one last time will help ensure that you leave with no regrets. My end-of-senior-year activities are among the best memories of my high school career.
2. Avoid senioritis at all costs
I am sure you’ve heard this a thousand times, but I can tell you it’s for the best. The introductory classes that you’ll take in your freshman year of college often mirror some classes that you’ll take in the latter stages of high school. Work hard to grasp that material now, in order to save the time and energy you will need to adjust to college life.
3. Take healthy risks
Let go of the fear of failure or peer pressure. Talk to someone who is not in your typical circle of friends or comfort. You never know what you could learn by breaking the boundaries you’ve drawn for yourself.
4. Make sure your next step is well thought out
Are you deciding between two schools? Going to the military? Pondering the meaning of life on your couch? Whatever it is, make sure that you have the logistics covered before making a long-term commitment. Compare the pros and cons of each potential action you plan to take. Speak to your counselor if you are unsure about certain processes in the admissions process. What you do after high school has lifetime repercussions, so use all of your resources and try to make the choices that are right for you now, and will benefit you in the years to come.
5. Be nice to your folks
Your parents and guardians have devoted years of hard work to your well-being. They love you twice as much as you think and are as excited as you are for graduation day this spring. For many of you, seeing your parents will be at a premium for a long time after the summer. So make sure that your parents know that you appreciate their efforts and that they’ll always have a place in your life and in your heart.