July 27, 2020 10:42:37 AM
Last year, as a junior at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, Clare Seo stayed up late often, working on research papers or studying for tests. Meanwhile, she remembers, the school's seniors merely had to touch up their college applications before hanging out with friends or going to bed early. Naturally, Seo was envious -- and ready to enjoy the very same privilege in a year's time.
"It was just like, 'Wow, I'm so ready to experience that,'" Seo said.
When Seo and fellow MSMS senior Abby Strain start their final year of high school in August, they'll get to. Despite the pressure of tough classes, the stress of college applications and apprehension for what's to come, Strain said she can't wait to experience senior year.
"I'm looking forward to everything: the classes, the accomplishments, the dances, even the failures," Strain said in an email. "Most of all, however, I'm excited to see my friends and make more memories with them."
On top of a difficult course schedule, Strain will be president of three clubs: the Student Environmental Awareness League, Plant Club, and a club dedicated to philanthropy called Forgotten Stories. She'll also be "scavenging" college websites, hoping to attend school in a big city and majoring in environmental science and possibly chemistry as well. Given that workload, Strain is well aware senior year will be "incredibly busy," but she said she can't wait for it.
"[...]senior year is meant to be lived to the fullest extent," she said. "It's about the days you spend with your friends and the nights that you don't sleep."
Jason Chrest, whose son Brandon will be a senior at Caledonia High School this fall, says he's well aware of the major transition senior year will be for students. Chrest said his son hopes to graduate high school in December; as soon as January, Brandon could end up as far away as Kansas, where he's received an offer to play football for Bethel College.
"Not only are you focused on the classes that you're taking right now; you're focused on everything at the high school level coming to an end, and you're also thinking about that next chapter, where you're going to end up going," Chrest said.
Seo said that her eventual college decision will depend on whether a school offers the courses she plans to take -- she plans to double major in psychology and biology -- as well as how much she likes the campus and the surrounding area.
She planned to take tours of several campuses in the summer, but the COVID-19 put a stop to in-person visits and will make it hard for Seo to get a full picture of the schools she's considering.
"As great as virtual tours are, they can only do so much," Seo said.
For now, she's working on improving her SAT and ACT scores, which can be key factors in the admissions process. Though she's not sure what schools to apply to yet, Seo plans to write application essays and apply for scholarships this fall, hoping to submit applications before several schools' Early Decision deadlines, which are typically in November. If she's accepted to a school via Early Decision, she would have to enroll there.
Most schools' regular application deadlines are between Jan. 1 and March 1.
Tammy McCool said her son Bryant, a senior at Caledonia, will likely attend East Mississippi Community College before transferring to Ole Miss or Mississippi State and is hoping to major in forensic science. To achieve that, Bryant will have to excel in his classes this year, including chemistry, composition and college algebra. Some of his courses are dual-enrollment classes, which will help Bryant get college credit before even enrolling.
One final year of high school sports, too, is something many rising seniors can't wait to experience. April Coleman, the mother of Caledonia outside linebacker Ayden Coleman, said her son and his teammates are more than ready to get on the field for their last high school season.
"They look forward to it so much," Coleman said.
Theo DeRosa reports on high school sports and Mississippi State softball for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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