A counselor’s advice to seniors: Finish strong

Pivonka provides encouragement, advice to Class of 2018

Erin O'Neill, Reporter

For the Class of 2018, January marks the beginning of the end of their high school careers.

Director of Counseling Ms. Kathy Pivonka said, “Finishing strong, that’s the key to it all,” when describing how seniors should approach their final semester of high school.

Pivonka said, “First semester is important, but then second semester, senioritis starts to kick in. One of the hardest things is to try to finish out because you already have gotten in, you’re already going to orientations, getting your college IDs and emails and you’re kind of ready, and we know you’re ready. But I think the big thing is to maintain the work ethic, do not let things fall. It’s rare, but we have had students who have lost their (college) admission in June or July. It would have to be a pretty big drop, but we have had a few students who thought they were done and just stopped doing stuff.”

Pivonka explained that just because a student has been accepted to a college or university, the  schoolwork can’t stop. She added that seventh semester grades can play an important role in the college admission process as well.

Pivonka said, “For seniors, some decisions aren’t going to come out until March. We send seventh semester transcripts to every school they’ve applied, and for those students who’ve already been admitted it’s kind of about maintaining, they want to see that you’re continuing to do the good work you’ve done, and to continue on we’ll send a final transcript to the one school that they’ve decided on. For the kids who haven’t had decisions yet, those transcripts can be part of that decision process for those March releases.”

Pivonka said she often uses analogies to explain this concept of continued effort to students.

She said, “I kind of equate it to how you don’t stop playing an inning early in baseball, you don’t stop the play after the first act, you know, things like that. You’ve got to finish strong ,you don’t want to just kind of stop part of the way through, you guys have worked too hard for that.”

Pivonka added, “Just keep up on the work. You can have senioritis and want to be out of here, but keep up on the homework, stay consistent with what you’ve been doing, throw some fun in there but just stay on top of things. You guys are mature enough and old enough that if you come to school and you go to class and you do the work, there should be no issues. Come to school, there are usually a lot of absences second semester. Be present, be here.”

Establishing solid ground in the first half of the semester is another vital part of finishing senior year successfully.

Pivonka said, “It’s also important to get a really strong foundation in the third quarter. There are so many neat things that seniors get to do second semester, especially fourth quarter. You hang out in the parking lot after school, just with your friends, you’re painting the wall, or you’ve got prom and you’ve got activities and things for seniors to do, graduation stuff, and having a good solid foundation third quarter makes fourth quarter easier so your back’s not against the wall trying to finish and complete your graduation requirements. That’s always very stressful if you don’t.”

“Second semester, that’s the academic side, but the college side is making the decisions,” Pivonka added.

Pivonka explained that, like always, the counseling center is open to help seniors.

“Students will start getting their acceptances and they will become final and that’s when you kind of have to figure out what is your best fit from all of the schools that you’ve applied to and we help with that. We meet with kids and talk about options. The nice thing is that the college counselors here are the unbiased source. We’re not really going to tell you where to go, but we are going to ask all of the questions for you to think about to help you decide.

“We’re not your friends pushing you one way, we’re not your parents pushing you another way, our goal is that you find the right school academically, socially, emotionally and financially, so that when you walk across that stage and your name is in that graduation program, that it was a good choice, and it’s the best one for you, not for anybody else. That’s Number 1 for second semester is make your plans based on your needs, not anybody else’s, find your best fit.”

Pivonka also provided some advice for the parents of the members of the Class of 2018.

“It’s also time for parents to start to take a couple steps back, it’s very hard for them, letting you guys take care of the business,” she said. She described that while parental help is needed for certain aspects of the college process, like completing financial aid documents, seniors should begin to take on some responsibility of their own.

Pivonka said, “I think it’s kind of outside the financial aid, where parents do kind of have to get involved, but start taking on some of (these responsibilities) yourself because next year, just next semester, parents can’t do any of that for you so knowing that housing process, knowing that financial aid process, understanding what it means to pick your classes and go to orientation and things like that is very important.”