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Sasha Mutchnik presents: School Survival Guide

Photo by Haley '15
Photo by Haley ’15

 Sounds pretty tough, right? As a member of the senior class charged with providing, well, a view from the top, I think it’s my job to set the record straight and answer a few frequently asked questions. (Note: these are all real questions that I’ve been asked. If you have other inquiries, feel free to ask me, or any of your other friendly neighborhood seniors. Trust me, we’re not half as scary as we may seem).

Q: How long do college apps take, and how do you balance it all?

A: Marlborough does a particularly good job of teaching its students to manage their time, and all those skills really come into play when you get to your last couple years of high school. College apps take up a whole bunch of time, and that’s the truth. However, if you can manage to sacrifice a free period here and there, and forgo your fun weekend plans for a little while, you’d be surprised how much you can actually get done. Also, there isn’t a set amount of time that college apps take. It really depends on the schools you apply to, the length of their supplements, and honestly, how much effort you put in. I think it’s really important to bear in mind that this process, just like life, as Hannah Montana once said, is what you make it.

Q: So… should I start worrying about the SAT now? (asked by an eager 8th grader)

A: Although your desire to jump the gun on the college process is admirable, I’m going to say no to this one. You won’t even finish learning material covered on the SAT until 9th or 10th grade, so the SAT is not really something worth sacrificing your solid 8 hours of sleep over. Honestly, you should be more concerned with holding onto those precious moments of slumber, as they’re likely to dwindle long before the SAT materializes as a credible threat. It’s also important to note that the SAT and ACT are not so much hard as they are tiring; four-ish hours of bubbling in answers in the gym is no one’s ideal Saturday. Don’t worry about anything until you have to, which, in your case, my dear middle-schooler, is not for at least a couple more years.

Q: Is senior year harder than junior year?

A: Agh, I wish this question had a simple answer. The thing is, junior year is universally acknowledged as a difficult one. Many people choose to take hard classes as the shift into the college-prep mindset begins. On the other hand, senior year, although probably no more academically challenging than junior year, has the added bonus of college apps to enhance the overall stress level. In other words, junior year is a lot of work in class, but senior year is a lot of work outside of class. One of the benefits of being a senior, in my opinion, is that you have the opportunity to customize your schedule a bit and take classes you’re really interested in. Then, even if your classes are a lot of work, chances are you’re genuinely enjoying them.

So, there you have it, a little FAQ cheat sheet to help clear up a few anxieties about the very mysterious future of your Marlborough career. These are, by no means, the only answers to these questions — ask any senior and I’m sure she’ll have her own completely unique take on things — but they are my opinions about all the craziness that accompanies senior year and how to deal with it. If you take away nothing else from what I’ve shared, please just consider this, the mantra made famous by The Five Stairsteps, that my friends and I have recently had to adopt in order to keep our own nerves at bay: Ooh, child, things are gonna get easier (even if they have to get harder first).