An Open Letter to High School Seniors:
You just started your last year of high school. You are busying yourself by hanging out with friends, going to Friday night football games, powering through the inevitable homework assignments, and the drama that filters through the hallways of your school. Likely, the most important decision you face on a daily basis is, “what should I eat for lunch?” But since you have started the distinctive final year of high school, you have become a moving target. Parents, family, friends alike jump to ask you, what is next? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? College recruiters and admissions counselors, like myself, send you countless postcards, letters, other visually appealing materials and it all becomes a lot of noise.
It becomes difficult to sift through the marketing materials and decide for you – not for anyone else - what is next. What is next for you?
Throughout senior year, the most important decision of your day shifts from whether or not you eat chicken nuggets for lunch to where do you want to grow and invest yourself after you graduate from high school?
I work as an admissions counselor at the University of Oklahoma and my job is to help students bridge the gap between high school and college. Applying can be an intricate process, and I support students to make the transition as smooth as possible. The following is some insight I’ve gathered from helping so many students like you through the application process.
Whenever I talk with students I often ask them to think about what it is that motivates them to go to college in the first place. I ask students to consider what they want for themselves during their time in college. I prompt them to picture their end goal because that is ultimately what drives them. Knowing your goal will fuel you through long lectures and late nights of studying. Whether that is your dream job, the money you will make one day, earning a college degree, learning new things, studying abroad, serving or working with people, or leading and volunteering, you name it, keep that in mind. Considering your reason for college now will help motivate you to change your mindset from debating chicken nuggets to determining what is next for you. If it matters to you, let it matter.
The reason I work in education is to help students understand their potential and empower them throughout the process. My goal is to help students understand their own personal value and the value of education. College is so much more than sitting through lectures and earning a degree. College is a tool to help you discover you. Higher education allows you the space and time to grow and learn more about who you are and who you are becoming. Let that be your guide in the noisy college search process.
Look through all the fancy brochures and postcards, but look at the schools that value you becoming a better version of yourself. Take note of the schools that are able to assist you and support you along the way. The University of Oklahoma has top academic programs, incredible research and learning opportunities, and excellence in service and leadership. Most importantly, we are devoted to helping students become their absolute best. At the end of the next four years of your life, what do you want to be true of yourself?
Come be a Sooner and find out. The journey begins with filling out an application, so apply now at apply.ou.edu.
Marissa Henderson, M.Ed.