•You have done it! You are graduating from your dream college in two weeks, my dear! But it doesn't go anything like you expected, there have been so many twists and turns, and that's okay!
•Be really real about how you're feeling right now. With your peers but also with professional adults as well. Please notice that tension in your chest, how scared you are to go to math class, how sometimes you can't leave your bed. This is outside of normal sad--you are experiencing anxiety and depression. It's okay and it's important to name it. You are not wrong and you are not worthless. You can still be your best self; you just need to learn some tools to cope with your mental illnesses. Ask for help. Ask for help.
•Listen to "Dancing Queen" as much as you can this year because you're only going to be 17 once and it is truly magical.
•On that note, do the hokey High School things even though you don't super love them. You're going to go stag to two proms this year and you're going to have the best time of your life. It is so worth it. Go to Senior dinners, eat lunches with your favorite teachers, do all the things you think you could miss from this time and place in your life.
•Make concrete plans for how to stay in touch with your friends! Your boarding school friends are from all over the world and your home friends are very far away, so carve out letter-writing routines now! You're not going to do a great job of this and you've lost touch with people you really care about.
•I know you hate math. But push yourself. Honestly, aspire to major in CS in college. You can still do the emotional labor humanities work you feel called to, but it won't be a bad thing to bring science + math skills into these spheres as well. Oberlin is such a cross-divisional place--you're going to know Chemistry and Dance double majors here, so there is room for all of it.
•Also push yourself to apply to more colleges! Ultimately Oberlin is your dream and definitely still apply ED, but apply to other schools as well. Consider the amount of FinAid you're given as a really significant factor and give yourself as many options as possible.
•Connect now with low-income students and low-income student support systems at the schools you're applying to. Figure out what these communities are like at these larger institutions that are often challenging, and feel out where you will feel comfortable. I didn't live in low-income housing (Third World House at Oberlin) my first year--and I really regret that because I think I would have had an easier time adjusting.
•Make a bucket list for college and/or write yourself a letter to your senior year of college self. That way, when you're me and you're 22 and your future feels vast and indefinite, you'll have a reminder of who you were and what you felt driven to do.
All my love, Karalyn, 22.
P.S. What do you want to say to yourself in five years? What advice would you give yourself as a senior filling out applications?