Advice from a Former High School Senior: Preparing for New Experiences
My cousin Emily was one of my first portrait subjects. I used her as a subject when I was taking darkroom photography classes back in high school.
She was also the first person I took senior pictures for (other than my brother,) and she was my first "paying" client. (I think her mom gave me a gift card as a thank-you for taking her pictures.) I actually remember her session well. We spent two evenings going on adventures all over Fort Wayne and even up into Auburn for a variety of locations.
Emily graduated from Carroll High School in 2013. Now she's finishing up her last semester of college at Purdue and will graduate in December with a bachelor's degree in Accounting. She's also a newlywed! When she's not at Purdue, she's at her new home in Iowa with her new husband Austin.
Since Emily's all grown up now I asked her to look back on the past four years and share some thoughts about senior year and the transition to college with this year's high school seniors. And, since she's super sweet, she was more than happy to help me (and you!) out.
What were the best and worst parts of your senior year of high school?
"One of the best parts was participating in Carroll's internship program. It was nice to leave school early and my internships gave me some valuable experiences. I also had a lot of fun going to football and basketball games and participating in homecoming activities. Senior prom was also a highlight.
"A difficult part of senior year was having to choose a college and major. There are so many options out there and, as an indecisive person, I found the process of choosing where to go next in life to be overwhelming."
What advice do you have for high school seniors about preparing for college next year?
"Don’t be afraid to not know exactly what you want to major in. Most people don’t get it right the first time anyways. In fact, 80% of students change their major at least once. It’s okay to be unsure. My suggestion is to start doing research on different majors and careers now. It’s never too early to shadow a professional in a field you are interested in."
What was the biggest adjustment to college or biggest difference from high school?
"I think the biggest difference was the lack of accountability in college. In many of my freshman year classes, no one would have known if I had skipped every class. If I didn’t do my homework or show up for a test, no one would have hunted me down to find out what was going on. In college it is on you to keep up with the class schedules and assignments and to seek out help when you need it in order to stay up with the class."
What's the best part of college?
"Part of the fun of college is trying new things out, meeting new people, and hopefully finding new skills or passions. My favorite opportunity that I took advantage of during my time at Purdue was a two week long study abroad trip to Colombia and Costa Rica with the logistics department."
What's the hardest or worst thing about college?
"The worst part is the adjustment period. That first semester, especially if you have just moved away from home, is really challenging. Making new friends takes time, so college can be really lonely at first. During my first semester at Purdue I honestly wanted to quit and move back home. But a year later I had friends whom I now consider best friends and thought of Purdue as a second home."
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently your senior year of high school?
"I would have participated in more senior year activities. I felt ready to move on, so I kind of checked out of Carroll hosted events. I think my senior year would have been more fun if I had participated more and had more school spirit. I had great friends and I miss seeing them every day at school and doing silly school spirit things with them."
Anything else you'd like to share with students in their last year of high school?
"Have fun! You’ve worked hard for the past 12-13 years. Enjoy this year a little bit extra."
Special thanks to Emily for sharing her thoughts! She's a lovely person, inside and out, and I'm glad she got to be one of my first subjects. And, I also love this picture I took of her at her wedding. Time really does fly by. Enjoy this special time as a high school senior!
If you're planning to have senior pictures taken and you're not sure where to start planning your session, sign up to get my guide to planning your senior portraits!