Senior year stress test

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It’s that time of year again. Seniors anxiously begin filling out college applications, coercing their favorite teachers into writing them outstanding recommendation letters, and working on ten different versions of admissions essays.

By Caroline Utz

Senior counselor Ms. Laura McGuirk assists seniors Hannah Hartman, Carrie Miller, and Trent Sullivan with college preparation in the senior loft.

This can be an intimidating time for seniors as they face the uncertainty of the future. However, with the help of this college guide (and the wisdom of senior counselor, Ms. Laura McGuirk), any college-bound senior can beat the stress and shoot for success.

College fair

Just waiting for the perfect school to fall into your lap?

Colleges and universities of all kinds will be flocking to NAHS on September 26 to take part in the annual Southern Indiana College Fair.

Counselor Ms. Mary Beth Hackman expects around 80 institutions of higher learning to be in attendance along with representatives from each branch of the military. Past hits include Indiana University Southeast, Indiana University Bloomington, and University of Kentucky.

McGuirk recommends that seniors stay focused at the college fair.

“Seniors need to ask about admission deadlines and available scholarships,” McGuirk said. “Seniors are on a ‘tighter schedule’ than juniors.”

The college fair is from 6:30-8.

Test time

“Pencils down.” Those words can easily cause panic in any student that has taken college entrance exams like the SAT or the ACT. Standardized tests can be tough to crack with time limits and complex questions.

However, private academic tutor, Andrew Porter of A+ Education, has a few tips for top scores on those tricky standardized tests:

1. Take challenging classes throughout high school, and do your best in those classes.

2. Take the SAT and ACT each one time during the spring semester of your junior year of high school to get benchmark scores. Don’t panic if your scores aren’t so good after your first test sitting. There is a lot you can do to improve them!

3. Contact your preferred colleges to see what test score ranges they are looking for to qualify for admissions and/or scholarships.

4. If you need to improve your scores, find an experienced test preparation tutor to help you. Don’t wait until the last minute to find help or you might be too late. Start looking 5-6 months before your retest date.

5. Work many timed practice tests on your own. These can be found at a local bookstore.

6. Get plenty of sleep! Teenagers generally should try to get about nine hours of sleep for each of the five consecutive nights leading up to test day.

What to do now

To make senior year as stress-free as possible, prepare early. U.S. News & World Report 2012 Best Colleges Edition outlines a plan to success for all four years of high school.


– Get involved in school activities, clubs, or sports

– Begin taking rigorous classes

– Talk to parents about college budget


– Establish good study skills

– Take the PSAT and use the results to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses

– Explore college websites and resources and discover what you’re looking for in a university


– Work hard in each class as junior year grades are the most recent a college will see until they check the transcript at the end of senior year

– Develop leadership roles in activities, sports, or clubs

– Take the SAT or the ACT and consider a test prep tutor for extra help

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Senior year stress test