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此岸, 彼岸...... (Seniors Year: ‘Congratulations’ and Beyond)


‘Congratulations. The answer is yes!’




(Screams, Laughters, and Joyful Tears…)


For high school seniors, those five words (especially the first, ‘Congratulations’) from the universities / colleges of their choice may have been appearing in their dreams night after night. As seniors go through the process that is fearfully known as the ‘College Application Cycle’, they may have the following experience on a daily basis. If you are a senior, circle the one(s) that would apply to you personally.


a. Could not help but visualise acceptance letter(s)!

b. Refresh the College Confidential (as nicknamed ‘CC’) discussion page to find out if those who live nearby the college have chirped that they have received their letters already?! 

c. Check (E)mail inboxes and wonder which notification method is more torturous: snail mail, or E-mail…


Post-‘The Moment…’


The list could go on, and on. But more importantly, this experience should be regarded not as the end of a certain phase in a teenager’s life (although it is reasonable to bid your farewell to the SAT’s, etc.), but as the beginning of some novel era! After ‘The Great Wait’, a senior needs to celebrate his or her achievements with family and friends and have a kinetic energy (which, IB / AP Physics students, is equal to…? Yes, mv²/2!) recharge.  


Last year, as a high school junior, I frequently asked my senior friends about their post-acceptance lifestyle out of curiosity. I fantasised what life will be like, after all the SAT’s, AP’s, CAS, EE, and TOK assignments are checked on iProcrastinate. 


With no intention to alter or confirm your perceptions about the Post-‘The Moment’ life, let me share some obligations or plans that seniors may have. The listed items will become valid on seniors’ agendas from what I labelled as ‘The Moment’, and will expire on the first day of the (international students’) orientation.


1. The ‘real’ IB / AP Exams: Needless to explain, those can count towards your credits for college, in addition to fulfilling the ‘conditions’ for conditional offers. IB exams usually last for 20 days, and can be heavily packed if your schedule involves consecutive examinations within the same day (Eek!). Those 20 days will be the time when you will be addressed to as ‘candidates’, and will be required to sit in a large examination room with other candidates who might be, somewhat strangely, taking different subjects in the same time slot. This means that while you are arduously constructing supply and demand curves, your neighbour may be writing in Ancient Greek (It’s all Ελληνικά to me! Ugh, when can I become a classical languages nerd myself?!)…


2. Adulthood: This item is more personal since it concerns your birthday. I, proudly born in my namesake month April, am currently preparing for this day! Sure, it does not need any preparations, but who can deny that embarking on adulthood is an exciting voyage that one should psychologically prepare for?


3. ID / Passport renewal: This item is particularly annoying for very ‘international’ international students. Although not that international myself, I have already marked my iCal with ‘Hong Kong ID’, ‘Chinese passport’, ‘Chinese ID’ and a few other boring deadlines. This involves two round trips between Beijing and Hong Kong in four months! If you are a super cultural hybrid, you had better organise your travel plans carefully and smartly.


4. Health insurance and other logistical businesses: Needless to explain. Tedious! 


5. Graduation trip: Exciting stuff! Enjoy our Class of 2014 quality bonding time!


6. Graduation ceremony: Looking forward to the BCIS tradition of passing down candles to the underclassmen (or women)! Classy moments…


7. Graduation prom!: We need to do some shopping for the dress and the look!


8. Extracurricular activities: Admittedly, this is one of the parts that is the most difficult to bid farewell to. Personally, I cannot imagine my last Roots & Shoots meeting with my fellow green-warriors. Well, we need to move on before I get way too emotional!


9. Jobs / Internships: Earn some $$ (tutoring is a popular option) or intangible assets (experience, broadened knowledge base, professional connections, wisdom, etc.).


10. Travelling: Great family bonding time and wonderful opportunity to have a feast of different cultures, histories, and traditions. Learn to travel, travel to learn.


11. Readings: Satiate our curiosity and prepare for the academic aspect of Higher Education!


12. Continue pursuing personal passions / hobbies: For me, it is definitely creative writing!


13. Research on the school where we will be spending our next four years: Absolutely - who on Earth can resist the temptation to examine every little detail about the next four years?!


14. Meeting future classmates!: Please refer to the next section. Yay!


First Impressions: ’Meeting’ Future Classmates


Potential majors, most popular courses and professors, orientation adventures, favourite TV shows, sports, the closest beach, on-campus fashion magazines, ways to conquer the contagious disease of senioritis, and even a Facebook page dedicated to a current student’s gorgeous smile… What a range of discussion topics!


On the ‘XX College / University Class of 2018’ Facebook Group, a newly admitted student from ED I (the first Early Decision round) may observe the increase in the number of his or her fellow 2018-ers every single day, particularly after the release of ED II and RD notification days. 


The prevalence of social networking sites including Facebook have made our post-acceptance lifestyle distinctly different from that in the last few years. Isn’t it weird that we are all convening on a virtual platform? Before the whole handpicked class is complete, future peers are already liking and commenting on each other’s posts, wishing each other ‘Happy Birthday’, and Skype-video-chatting. It would be unimaginable for a college freshman from a few years back to look at the situation today: the days when you arrive on campus and slowly gain new acquaintances seem to have long faded away. How interesting will it be to show up on the first day of orientations, and upon a few seconds’ processing of facial features, immediately recognise each other, and recall a range of information about that person? 


The social network mania’s implications on freshmen is personally a fascinating experiment for me, and I cannot wait to update you on my ‘first impressions’ of actually meeting future classmates in person. Hopefully, such impressions will be unbiased from say, one’s type language features, and will not end up radically changing as they have been in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (originally titled ‘First Impressions’).


Beyond Our Senior Year


If you are about to step into the brave new world ‘Senior Year’, prepare to look back and reflect at some point, at your high school career. Be amazed at how much you have accomplished despite all the difficulties!


Fellow seniors, I wish you every success in your last days of high school, and of course, far beyond.

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