The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

Everyone Lied To Me About Senior Year.

Where is the finish line?

Pretty much everyone who has ever attended high school to any degree has heard of the horrors of Junior Year. College level classes, never-ending homework, doubling down on extracurriculars, increasing your GPA… anything to impress colleges. Just reviewing the list of things to get done in ten months made my eyes swim. Of course, I felt that the rumors were a bit dramatic.

That is, until last year.

Whenever anyone asked me how the school year was going, whether it be a conversationalist parent or a curious lowerclassmen, I answered the same way.

“People used to tell me that junior year was the hardest portion of high school and I always thought they were exaggerating. Every day that has gone by so far this year has proven them right.”

So I’m sure you can understand my relief when that final bell rang in June, releasing me from a year filled with AP coursework, ACTs and SATs, advanced math classes, and several meltdowns caused by what felt like a crushing pressure to succeed. All of this to get into schools with mid-level acceptance rates. I can’t begin to imagine what my junior year would have looked like if my dream college was Yale.

Summit junior Emerson Williams is taking four AP classes, and recognized the amount of effort that needs to go into this year in order to prepare for her future. “I want to go to a really high academic school. I’m really aiming for UC schools or Ivy Leagues, so that’s definitely what influenced most of my APs,” said Williams.

Thank goodness that’s over. But the breath of fresh air only lasted so long. 

August 1 appeared out of thin air and hit me like a train. My inbox flooded with emails from every university known to mankind. College applications were now open. Suddenly, I have the most stressful homework assignment in all fifteen years of my education. 

Just like that, junior year no longer seems so bad. 

We’ve spent the past twelve years learning how to solve complex equations, the correct format for every essay, numerous formulas for geometry and chemistry, and the details of every major war in the books. Surely if we can survive all that we’re ready for the next level, right?


“The most stressful part of senior year is being able to find a balance between doing school and then doing college stuff,” said Summit senior Hunter McGrane. He’s planning on applying to about ten schools, including John Cabot University, Claremont McKenna, and Georgetown University. “The biggest factor in determining my course load for the year was figuring out how to maximize GPA boosters so that colleges will look at my application and say, ‘this is rigorous and we like that.’”

Unfortunately, I took the same route as McGrane, with almost a full class schedule everyday on top of athletics and applications. Some of my peers, on the other hand, roll out of bed and show up at 11 a.m. for a single class everyday. 

“I have yet to set an alarm this year. I get to wake up slowly and get ready for school at my own pace,” described senior Hayden Brinker, who is taking a total of four courses this year. “Usually I have two classes a day… Today I got here at 11:30 a.m. and I’ll head home around 2:30, after 5th period.”

It almost makes me regret my decision to take two APs and several other classes that actually require effort this year. Almost. I barely have time to do anything college-related, and when I get a free second I’d rather drop dead than log on to the common app. 

When will it stop? Sometimes I feel like I’ll be anxious about setting up for my future until I actually leave for college. I want my senior year to be the lighthearted fun everyone was expecting: senior assassin, our last high school sports seasons, taking classes we have genuine interests in, class sunrises and sunsets…  spending one last year with all the people we’ve grown up with.

McGrane seemed optimistic that this newfound stress regarding the future was temporary. “Junior year is typically gonna be your hardest course load because you’ll have a close to full schedule, so it’s difficult having to focus on school for the full year, which I feel like you don’t have to do for your senior year as much.” 

I guess I feel slightly misguided when it comes to the portrayal of senior year. It’s not like I forgot entirely about applying for college, I just didn’t know I would feel so unprepared. It’s like I’ve suddenly been thrown in the deep end.

“Just based on knowing a few seniors last year, senior year is still gonna be a stressful year but it’s gonna be stressful in other ways,” explained Williams. “It’s not so much ‘what colleges am I gonna get into’ but more so ‘let me finish my applications, what colleges DID I get into, stuff like that.”

Now I find myself face to face with a hundred new things to learn. How do I apply for financial aid? What is it that colleges are looking for in my general essay? How many colleges is too many to apply to? How do I save money in college while handling student debt? How much are plane tickets, and how many trips will I be able to afford if I go to school far away from home? Should I get a job during my first year in college? How do I find scholarships? How do I apply for them? Am I too late?

Suddenly I’m in the same position as a year ago, my list of to-dos for the next ten months is even longer, and my eyes are swimming yet again.

Where does it end?

A little advice from a friendly college freshman helped to put things into perspective.

“I am the oldest kid in my family, so I was kind of on my own as far as navigating the college application process,” explained Liv Gober, a Summit graduate headed into her freshman year at the University of Oregon. “It was definitely extremely daunting at first, but overtime I got used to the things the schools I was applying to were asking and how to respond to them best.”

Underneath all the stress and implications, preparing for the future is just that: bouncing ideas off yourself and others, exploring your interests, and basically living in a state of trial and error until something finally sticks. 

“At the end of the day you won’t know the answer to that kind of thing until you experience it.” explained Gober. Eventually, the question of what you’re going to do with your life stops being so scary and starts to feel exciting. I can’t wait for the day I feel it too.

Hey seniors? I think we’re gonna be alright. 

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About the Contributor
Iben Orton, Opinions Editor
The wild Iben has recently been spotted in the Pinnacle news room. Reports from local journalists describe that the beast has been spending all of her time underwater, listening to music, and watching The Book of Life. Iben consumes exclusively orange juice and pasta for sustenance, a diet that fuels her competitive nature and sarcastic tendencies. In order to summon her, one only needs to press play on Just Dance: Ghostbusters and she will appear, completing the dance perfectly with her eyes closed. In the event of an Iben encounter, approach with caution and always have raw tomatoes on hand. They are her kryptonite.

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