How To Survive Senior Year, From Parents Who’ve Been There

Mother and daughter head to head facing the camera and smiling.

How To Survive Senior Year, From Parents Who’ve Been There

Published March 12, 2024

Mother and daughter head to head facing the camera and smiling.

Senior year of high school is stressful for everyone — parents, students, and even the admin high school staff. It’s a year full of ups and downs, surprises, and confirmations, but it’s also a major milestone that deserves to be recognized and celebrated.

We asked parents of high school seniors in our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group to share the best piece of advice they would give parents of students who will be applying next, and the response was overwhelming. Hundreds of parents wrote in with words of wisdom. Topics ranged from what to do the summer before senior year to remembering the importance of talking about your budget before it’s too late and everything in between.

Following are some of the most liked and talked-about pieces of advice that parents had to share with the next group to embark on the college journey.

When In Doubt, Just Love Them

“Give them so much grace and extra love. Their ‘to-do’ list is incredibly long and the stress level is high. They are navigating so much simultaneously (future plans, essays, sports, clubs, a rigorous course load, lack of sleep, common app, etc.).” — Linda P.

Buckle Up For A Bumpy Year

“Kids who have always succeeded at everything they’ve done will most likely be rejected from /not achieve something—a “dream school”, a very desired scholarship, or friend groups. As hard as it is on the parents, it’s even harder on the students. They are about to blow up the life they’ve always known and even though they’re excited, it’s really scary.” — Colleen H.W.

Make The Most Of This Time Together

“Enjoy your time with your child as much as possible. Don’t compare your child to other students– these groups and posts can overwhelm you! Everything will work out if you do your research and stay on track.” — Janet W.

Open Your Mind To Colleges You’ve Never Heard Of

“Name recognition is overrated. Let your child go anywhere they will thrive. BONUS if they give great merit.” — Jenna C.H.

Fill Out Applications Before Senior Year

“My child had all applications completed before the start of the school year. Once school started, his guidance counselor finished up their end of things and all were submitted by the middle of September. It alleviates so much stress from senior year!” — Amanda S-D

Gave A Serious Money Talk

“Sit down and discuss finances, especially if there is a limit. We sat down with each of our children and explained what loans they could take, what that repayment would look like, and how much I could contribute each year. I am too close to retirement to take parent plus loans so both knew going in right where they were financially. My oldest thanked me for this since she had friends get into schools they were excited about only to be told, ‘We can’t afford that’. Mine ran Net Price Calculators on schools and if it was close, they would apply. Both applied to a few “you never know” schools but went into the entire process looking at it from a cost-benefit perspective.” — Lynda S.

Don’t Worry About What Anyone Else Is Doing

“Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. “Keeping Up with the Jones'” is insane during this time.” — Katie M.

Take Advantage of Dual Enrollment

“If your school has dual credit options, take them as soon as you’re able. Two of our kids have/will be graduating high school with 27 college credits.” —Kellie H.G.

Add Rolling Admissions Schools To The Mix

“Apply to schools with rolling admissions before those with a deadline admissions date!” — Stefanie L.G.

Don’t Leave Anything To Chance

“Help them navigate and don’t assume they’re on top of everything. This isn’t the time to take chances on personal responsibility. It’s an overwhelming process for us, which means it’s likely more overwhelming to them. I’m not suggesting you write essays for them, but check in and ensure tasks are being checked off and essays proofed, etc” — Brooke C.C.

Celebrate The Fact That You Made It This Far

“Breathe. This is a long haul; slow and steady wins the race. Don’t get caught up in minutia to lose sight and enjoy this final year and all that is. Celebrate your young person who is quickly becoming a young adult.” — Ramona S.

Join this and other conversations just like it with parents like you by joining our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group. It’s free!

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Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

The Truth about Your College Acceptance Odds: What Every Student Should Know Before Stressing Out

Explaining $80K in Student Loan Debt to a 17-Year-Old

Which Is Better: AP or Dual Enrollment?

JOIN ONE OF OUR FACEBOOK GROUPS & CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS: 

PAYING FOR COLLEGE 101

HOW TO FIND MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS

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