It is your precious child's Senior Year of high school. Where has the time gone? Talk of college, dorms, scholarships, and moving away have your heart aching. Don't worry, you're not alone.
The "last first day" of high school is only beginning. From the last first day picture to walking across the stage, we have compiled a "checklist" of things that first-time Senior moms and fifth-time Senior moms alike will benefit from and appreciate.
First and foremost, this year is going to be emotional. So many lasts, so much change. The tears may even begin as your "baby" pulls out of the driveway on that early August morning. While you may not need to carry a literal pack of tissues in your purse (though we encourage a whole box), you need to be prepared for the emotional roller-coaster you are about to be on.
Senior year can throw many punches. From emotions to college paperwork, the ability to be patient will be very beneficial. Your child will most likely want to be with friends all the time, making the last year memories, and talking about how much they will miss the friends they have established. At times it may seem as though they are overlooking you and their family, but just remember yourself at eighteen. Your child may get lazy; "senioritis" is real. Encourage them to stay on top of school, scholarships, and planning because January-May feels like it flies by in the time it takes to say the word "graduate." Senior year really does matter. Don't even get me started when it comes to paperwork for college. A good pen and lots of patience and you'll be good to go.
3. Senior Pictures
Yes, of course WE want you to take senior pictures (it is a great year to take family portraits also!! book a photo shoot today!! email, text, or call!!), but in all honesty, Senior pictures are something that will be cherished for years to come. Your child is about to spread their wings; who wouldn't want to capture that beautiful moment?? Senior pictures not only capture their physical features, but also allows the seniors personality and interests to be captured through the design of their photo shoot. This year, this moment, this era in their life is so crucial and substantial and deserves to be preserved and reflected on for the rest of their life. Plus, current photos of your Senior will make the graduation announcements so much more special. - Also, take tons and tons of pictures and videos with your phone and camera. Candids, posed, just living, prom, football games, everything. You may feel silly sometimes having your phone out all the time, but one day (most likely sooner than later) you will cherish them immensely. One day you may miss their laugh or you may miss their crazy hair in the morning and it will be nice to be able to look back on the sweet moments with just a few clicks. -
4. Be Proactive!!
Senior year goes by SO FAST. You may think "Oh, I have time... May is ten months away." Okay, yes, BUT boy oh boy do those ten months fly by. Make your own detailed checklist, schedule ahead, and just be in the know when it comes to school, deadlines, and college!! Deadlines come sooner than you'd think. While your child should be on top of the college search, scholarships, and applications, there is still a lot you have to do as the parent. Here is a rough timeline of senior year to put it into perspective...
Summer- College tours & researching colleges and their application requirements
September- Ask for recommendation letters, Early Action or Early Decision deadlines
October- Scholarships, complete ED/EA applications, take the ACT
November- send ACT score reports to colleges, request official transcript from high school
December/January- Submit college applications, complete FAFSA (stay on top of this!!), scholarships
February/March- Review FAFSA, scholarships, send graduation party invites
April/May- AP Exams, scholarships, graduation party, send graduation invitations
June- Send in final transcripts, complete student loan applications, meet with student advisors, send thank you cards
While this list may not seem like a lot, it can get overwhelming when life is happening. The normal school year is going on and each thing can sometimes become drawn out, especially when it comes to financials with college. We can not stress enough to be proactive and informed about all financial paperwork.
5. Graduation Announcement/Party Invite List
Make your graduation invitation list early because there will be many times that you add or take people off the list. The more accurate the amount the better because you do not want to buy too many graduation cards and end up throwing them away and you definitely do not want to not buy enough and not be able to invite everyone you want. Keep your list to keep track of gifts and thank you cards later.
Start compiling addresses NOW! Confirm addresses if you are not sure because having graduation invitations sent back is not fun! We highly suggest getting an address book so they all stay organized. Keeping addresses after graduation announcements are sent is very beneficial when it comes time to write thank you cards and even for other events down the road such as sibling graduations and weddings.
Buy stamps (and plenty of them) when prices are low!! Prices on stamps always seem to raise right before you walk in the door of the post office. Graduation invites, party invites, and thank you cards all have to be mailed and that is a lot of stamps. We suggest hand delivering when you can!! It saves money and is more personal.
Above all else, just enjoy this year. Enjoy the mess, the craziness, the sweet moments, the laughs, the tears, all of it. This year is so unique. Be excited for your child even though you may be breaking a little inside. Allow them to soak up their last few months as a kid; even though that may mean not getting to be with them a lot, cherish the moments that you are. Make memories as a family, take pictures, sing in the car, have late night chats, just enjoy the person you raised for who they are and are about to blossom into. You've made it through this adventure and you are about to embark on another, possibly even more exciting one.
This "checklist" in no way covers everything for Senior Year, but we are hoping it will give a little heads up and get you thinking! You're almost there, Mom! This is your Senior Year also, so make the most of it! Get some tissues, patience, stamps, and just enjoy the ride.