Senior advice: Nikki Suzani
Welcome, class of 2022, to senior year. I’ll start off with a surprise: this article isn’t about college applications. You’ve already worked hard enough—the last hurdle is writing essays about that work, and honestly, it’s the easiest part. Instead, here’s some advice on the life part of it all.
Let’s start with some basics: how do you make it through first semester? Practice self-care. Don’t just sit on the couch crying over essays. Develop an exercise routine that gets you outside everyday, even if that’s going on walks to see the sunset. Maintain connections with your friends (or reach out to create new ones) and check in regularly, because this time is tough for a lot of people. But don’t stress too much—I promise it’s all going to work out.
So we’ve got the first semester covered. What about the second? My advice would be to do three things: find a hobby, go somewhere exciting and do something stupid. For the hobby it can be anything that brings you happiness outside of school and extracurriculars. (I’ve always been partial to ice-skating.) The “somewhere exciting” doesn’t have to be far; take a Caltrain to San Francisco, or bike to Shoreline. Experience a new place. As for the “something stupid,” I want to be clear that I’m not condoning any illegal activities. Just do something that you wouldn’t have done before without overthinking the pros and cons. Dye your hair a new color, or bike to the Dish at 5 a.m. to see the sunrise. Make a memory that you won’t forget.
And, of course, throughout it all—and particularly during essay season—we have to answer one last question: how do you decide what you want to do with your life? The answer is simple: dream of something worthwhile. You’ll always have the option to sell out, to become a Goldman McKinsey Amazon financial developer consultant or whatever, but at least for now, desire something better than living off of exploited workers’ labor. That doesn’t mean you can’t apply to be a Computer Science major (like me). It just means that when you build your trajectory and choose programs to apply to, imagine using that major in an exciting way (like building data visualizations for the New York Times!). It’s scary being 17 and even having to think about this question, but as long as you have big dreams, you can always adjust them going forward. Good luck. I hope you have a wonderful time—I’m rooting for you.