Tips for a successful final year of high school

6 ways to live your best senior year

Congratulations! After several years of high school, you've made it to your final year.

Before walking out the doors of your high school at the end of the year, we have some tips for making the most of your remaining time there.

Get involved

When I talked with my university friends about high school, many of them wished they had spent more time getting involved in school activities, making memories, and having fun. This is a time to explore new things and put yourself out there! 

Some of my fondest memories from my last year of high school were connecting with both friends and teachers.

Go to school dances, try out for plays, volunteer, get involved with your student council, or pull out your favourite onesie for pyjama day! Grab your spirit wear and cheer on your Warriors, Bulldogs, Tigers, Eagles...(you get the idea) to victory.

a football scrimmage with a black and white team facing a red and gold team.

Everyone needs a break from all the schoolwork and thinking about how to choose a university! Make time to dance the night away at Homecoming, lose your voice cheering for your school's team, and just be in the moment. High school will fly by so take time to make the most of it! 

Make meaningful friendships

As cliché as it sounds, your friends in high school are going to be the ones who make your final year the best it can be. They will be there to celebrate with when you receive your offers of admission from universities, or to enjoy those more low-key hangouts like spending your weekends binge-watching Netflix and eating pizza. 

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Before everyone splits ways to go to college, university, or wherever else life takes you, make sure you try to plan something fun together! For example, my friends and I went to an Ed Sheeran concert on one of the last weeks of high school. This was a great way to see my personal fav artist and to make long-lasting memories with my best friends! 

Trips don't have to be adventurous to be a truly great time spent with friends.

Even though the concert was only a quick drive away it still was a great memory.  We even re-lived the experience last summer – we went to see Ed Sheeran again before my best friend returned to Halifax for school! Spending time and having fun together helped create and strengthen our bonds before going our separate ways.

concert ticket

Looking back at my time in high school, I also realized what an impact some of my teachers had on me. Believe it or not, teachers do have a life outside of school, and can actually make great friends after graduating! One thing that you don’t always notice is that teachers and guidance counsellors can play a big role in your life, both during your high school career and afterwards. For example, my guidance counsellor first introduced me to the University of Waterloo, and here I am four years later! They can surprise you with their life experiences and fun stories, and can inspire you and help you out during some challenging times. I definitely valued the time I spent in class with my favourite teachers! 

Other things to consider before you finish high school and head off to university


Join a club

It’s your last year, which makes it the perfect opportunity to try something new! Clubs are a great way to spend time with people who have similar interests and passions as you. Plus, they look great on university applications.

Most high schools have many clubs to choose from, ranging from academic or athletic to cultural or musical. And if nothing sparks your interest, gather a few friends, and start your own club!

I tried many different things in high school, from volunteering for a fashion show to doing plays for the French department. This was a way for me to step outside of my comfort zone, as I tend to be shy, and being on stage performing in a different language was quite nerve-wracking! I’m glad I did it, though, as it helped me work on my public speaking skills and also gave me the opportunity to help younger students with their roles in the play. These are all great experiences that I was able to put on my Admission Information Form (AIF) when I was applying to Waterloo as well.

Take time to reflect

Make sure to take breaks

When university application deadlines approach, you’ll want to focus your time and energy on doing your best in your classes, but make sure to take time for yourself. As I mentioned earlier, your senior year is supposed to be filled with opportunities to make memories, not freak outs. 

Amy and her cat.

Clearly, my cat decided it was time for me to take a break.

High school can get stressful, particularly in your final year, but all your hard work will pay off in the end! Different people have different ways to manage stress. I personally enjoy taking a quick power nap after I finish reviewing a few chapters of content (just make sure you set an alarm)! Taking breaks doesn’t have to be a large time commitment either. Something as small as checking your Instagram feed will be a good distraction. (P.S. If you’re not following us already, make sure to check out our Instagram account @UofWaterloo!) It’s important to have people (or pets) to remind you to take breaks while studying.  

Be appreciative

Now that I’m at Waterloo, I’ve realized all the perks I had being at home during high school.  There are so many small things I miss about being home, like having family dinners, laundry being done for me, and even having a pet around. This makes me appreciate all the hard work my parents did to shape me into the person I am today. 

Thank people for the role they had in making you the person you are.

Many people played a big role in helping me get to university. Whether it’s my mom, who made sure I went to bed at a reasonable time instead of studying until 3 a.m.; my guidance counsellor, who introduced me to the University of Waterloo; or my friends Taylor, Lindsay, and Vikki, who kept me sane through some of those really stressful times. There are many people I have to thank for my success and achievements.

While you can, thank people for the role they had in making you the person you are and helping you get into your dream school. The overwhelming support I received from my friends and family has pushed me to do the best that I can and to jump at any opportunity that crosses my path.

Make memories

Chances are you're not going to the same college or university as all your friends next year, so now's the time to take pictures and capture those unforgettable moments with your friends.

Go on your senior trip. Buy your high school yearbook and have everyone sign it. Go to prom. These activities are sometimes over hyped, but it's still your last school dance, and it could be the last time your whole senior class is together.

Be open to new opportunities, and challenge yourself to be present. You can make it your best year yet!

Amy's prom picture.

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