Alumni pass on tips to current and future seniors

From APs to SATs to clubs, social obligations, and college apps on top of all of that, the first semester of senior year is one of the hardest semesters of anyone’s high school career. Then comes the second semester senior slump. Many have struggled through this labyrinth and have lived to tell their stories. Next year’s seniors, as well as the seniors who are going into their second semester in a few weeks, could learn a thing or two from those who have gone before.

Alumni who graduated with the class of 2014 were asked what they would do differently throughout their senior year. Advice for the first semester of senior year covered a variety of topics, from college apps to socializing.

Taos Whittaker, currently attending Chapman University, said, “If I had to one thing I did during senior year, I would have applied to fewer schools. I applied to 10 schools in total, when I only really needed to apply to seven. There was too much paperwork.”

Whittaker, who attends Chapman University, meets the producers of the Lord of the Rings, who visited the University. (Photo provided by Whittaker)

Similar  to Whittaker, Jimmy Shin also would have done some things differently. “I always regretted not writing my common app drafts until September. So I guess I would have been more productive over the summer if I could redo anything,” Shin said.

Alumni Ryan Al Schamma’s advice has less to do with school and more to do with his personal life. “If I could redo the first semester of my senior year, I probably wouldn’t have closed myself off as much as I did for the first two months,” he said. “I was invited out a lot of times, but I always passed on them.”

The Alumni were more than happy to give advice to the current seniors on how to cope, and what they should do to make their lives easier.

Isabel Perucho, who graduated with the class of 2014 and who is currently attending Yale NUS, said, “I walked into senior year with the philosophy that I would do whatever makes me happy… and I fully believe that I dealt with this well. I ended up socializing more, finding my core group of friends, and spending time doing the thing that I loved and wanted to do. I had the best senior year because of it.” She recommends others do the same. Perucho also added “you do you.”

“The college application process was definitely the toughest point of all my high school years, so just know that everyone’s struggling mentally and always remember its alright to take a step back and relax. But don’t leave everything till the last minute.” Shin said, and also added, “this is when binge eating is totally acceptable.”

Shin relaxing in his dorm room (Photo provided by Shin)


Though the first semester is the more challenging of the two, the second semester comes with its own set of challenges.

For many students, this is when they turn legal. Often, they find themselves struggling to balance the philosophy of “living life to the fullest” and trying to keep their grades high enough so that they don’t have their college acceptances retracted.

“SSS (second semester senior year) is definitely there, and I’d argue that seniors deserve some slack after an intense semester of college apps,” Shin says. “But you can’t give up entirely on school either, it’s not the end till it’s the end so keep a balance.”

Whittaker also added to that, saying, “Make sure to maintain a good work ethic. I’ve seen many people work incredibly hard the first semester, then literally do nothing the second semester. Then when they go into college they’ve lost their momentum and it comes as a bad shock to them. It’s more stress on what should be a rather positive life changing experience, and could have been easily avoided.”

Author: Stephanie Palanca

Stephanie Palanca is a senior and a second year reporter for The Eye. She has lived in Singapore since fourth grade, though she is originally from Manila, Philippines. When she is not doing anything related to school, she likes to try eggs benedicts from different brunch places around Singapore, photograph the world around her, binge watch Grey’s Anatomy, and play tennis. She can be contacted at

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