They say that second semester junior year of high school is the hardest. However, I’d like to contend that it is the first semester of senior that is truly the most difficult – think about it. On top of juggling AP’s, homework, and extracurricular activities, we have to deal with the stress of taking the last shot of standardized tests, drafting and writing countless essays, and even deciding what colleges we want to apply to, with the weight of parents’ opinions and counselors’ thoughts on our shoulders. With only a few ticking days of school left, and final exams upon us, first semester will be over in a snap.
For some of us, this will be a milestone, having completed the semester of so-called “death.” But for other seniors who are graduating early (this Friday, to be precise), it means that they will be starting their journey earlier than the rest of us. Out of the 300 plus seniors this year, two will be graduating early: Gabby Kim and Charlotte Reimer. Fortunately, I was able to interview both of them and ask about their time at Singapore American School (SAS), and their final thoughts before leaving.
When did you come to SAS, and how long have you been here for?
I came to SAS at the beginning of junior year (August 2015), so by the time I leave, I will have only been in Singapore for about 18 months! (Charlotte)
I moved back to SAS at the beginning of my junior year. Before that, I was in Shanghai, and even before that, I was at SAS in 6th and 7th grade. (Gabby)
Why are you graduating early?
I came from Sydney where the academic calendar for primary school and high school starts in late January (ex. a semester before the U.S system), and I had already completed a semester of junior year or year 11 as I call it, which gave me enough credits. When you think about it, I have done my 8 semesters of high school, just on a jumbled schedule compared to everyone else. If I had graduated in June with the rest of the class of 2017 and still gone to university back home, I would have had to wait for the following March to begin. I would be a year behind my peer group. (Charlotte)
My family moved back to America last summer, and I decided to stay in Singapore and finish the first semester as a senior. (Gabby)
What will you be doing after graduating this December? College, gap year?
I will be heading back to Australia to start university in March and study a combined degree of Arts/Law. (Charlotte)
As of now, I’m unsure as to what major I’m interested in, so during this gap year, I’m planning on taking internships and jobs that can help determine an area of interest that I want to pursue. (Gabby)
Where will you be going?
I will be going back to my hometown of Sydney and attending the University of Sydney. I’ll also be living on campus and going to Women’s College, which is one of the residential colleges because my parents will still be in Singapore. I’m really excited about Women’s because a lot of my friends from Sydney are going there. Living at a college makes it so much easier to be involved with university life and have an experience more akin to a U.S. college student.
Back to where my family is – in Northbrook, Illinois. (Gabby).
How do you feel about graduating early, and leaving this environment?
It’s definitely scary leaving school when you don’t have everyone around you on the same page to help you worry through it. For most of my life, I’ve been at school, I’ve been a kid, and I’ve lived at home – that’s all going to change very soon. It’s scary, but in a good way because I definitely feel ready to move on to the next stage of my life despite it being unknown territory for me. (Charlotte)
I mostly feel upset because I originally didn’t want to graduate early. It’s something my parents wanted me to do. I’ve accepted it, and I’m trying to leave with a positive attitude and hopefully I’ll make the best of my mini gap year. (Gabby).
What will you miss most about Singapore/SAS?
First and foremost, I’ll miss my dog. I’ll genuinely miss my family as well because strange enough, going through the process of uprooting my life and moving overseas definitely made us closer. From SAS, I’ll miss my teachers who have been some of the most incredible and passionate educators I have met. I’ll miss the joy I felt in wearing my hair out and having nail polish and a casual uniform after years of being at schools with strict uniform policies in Australia. I’ll, of course, miss the friends I’ve made, who are all such interesting and different people, and who have taught me so much. I’ll miss the convenience of Singapore, the cheap taxis and food, the amazing shopping, the constant greenery and how beautifully clean the MRT is! (Charlotte).
I’ll mostly miss my friends, but also IASAS rugby. Second season sports are interrupted by winter break, so I will have only been on the team for the first half of the season, and won’t be able to participate in IASAS this January. This is especially upsetting because I went to IASAS last year and for soccer, and I know the experience is like none else. (Gabby).
What do you think are some of the pros of graduating early?
I think the main positive that comes out of early graduation is that it allows me to be more time effective, and allows me to get on track for my tertiary study. It also means that I don’t get a chance to slack off, or get too complacent during second semester, as I kind of have to keep working to be ready for university in March. (Charlotte)
I get to use my free time to my own advantage: I can do community work, spend time with my family, take classes I’m interested in, get work experience, explore Chicago, and will be able to meet new people every day. (Gabby)
What do you think are some of the cons of graduating early?
The negative part of early graduation is missing out on the second semester senior year experiences. SAS puts a lot of effort in making the graduating class feel special. There are so many nice traditions the school has. It’s also sad to leave behind all my friends, who I would have loved to spend more time with. (Charlotte)
I won’t be able to be with my friends, and I won’t be able to experience the second semester senior life. I feel like all high schoolers from freshmen year live for the second semester of senior year, and it sucks I won’t be able to have that time with my friends. (Gabby)
What is one piece of advice/message you want to say to your friends or seniors who will be staying for second semester?
Although it seems over said, to be present and really enjoy each moment because this is a really fun, if not confusing time. Also, be aware that high school is not going to last forever – always put things in perspective in terms of social drama or academic setbacks so you don’t waste time being negative or worried about things that really won’t matter in a couple of months. (Charlotte)
Don’t waste a single weekend. Spend it with your friends and family because before you know it, you’ll be graduated and going your separate ways. (Gabby)
What are you the most excited about moving forward?
I’m really excited about studying in an area I’m passionate about, as well as having quite a bit of independence. I’m also really excited about all the traveling I plan on doing during those ridiculously long university holidays. I feel as if the transition of moving overseas so late in my high school career gave me the skills to take on life post-graduation. For that, I am very grateful. (Charlotte)
College!!! I’m excited to get be more independent, meet new people, study subjects I’m specifically passionate about and, finally, have a home. Ever since I was six, I’ve moved every 2-3 years so I’m excited to finally be in one place for four years. (Gabby)
As of now, high school may seem like the last thing to be excited about, especially during this challenging final exam period. However, with the stress of school work, studying, and college preparation, it’s important to remind ourselves that the rewards of our efforts will be delivered in only a few months’ time. High school doesn’t last forever, but the memories we make during these years do. Just as Charlotte and Gabby have mentioned, it’s important to enjoy every moment while it lasts and to spend time with the people and friends we love.