Seniority Rules

Julia A. is currently a senior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Francis W. Parker School in Illinois.

SYA France seniors!

A recap: While I was accepted to SYA for my junior year of high school, fate seemed to disagree with me. It so happened that a pandemic, that we all know too well, took that choice away and offered another; to defer or not to defer. I’m an overthinker, but that gut feeling came to me on a random day and I chose to enroll. My biggest piece of advice: listen to that gut feeling. 

But what I’ve begun to understand is that spending your senior year–yes the whole year– through SYA can actually be more beneficial than doing it your junior year abroad and here’s why: 

Grades/College Process: While grades still matter, of course, there is a little less pressure for the seniors. SYA’s program is rigorous and it will be different than anything you’ve experienced, so adapting will be difficult and your grades might not reflect what they usually do. Don’t freak out like I did, remember that your teachers are here to support you and you have lots of resources available. I think that the pressure of second semester junior year SAT/ACT balances out with the pressure applying to colleges during the first semester senior year. The college process is a bit complicated, so I’ll walk you guys through my experience so far:

  1. Before I came to France I wanted to do as much college work as I could so I wouldn't have to worry about it when I arrived. That’s my biggest piece of advice: Do as much as you can the summer before your year abroad begins. I finished my common app and my ED/EA schools and that relieved a lot of pressure.

  2. I spent my Wednesdays at SYA (we end school at 11:20 every wednesday) doing college essays and meeting with my college counselor. This helped me get on top of things while also immersing myself and putting the cultural experience first. 

  3. The earlier the better! The year really begins to pick up in November and December, so it’s important to finish before you are swamped. 

  4. Meet with schools over zoom!!! There have been many cases where I either loved a school and then realized it wasn't for me, or didn’t like a school and fell in love after going to these informational sessions. There are SO many schools out there for you, try to be as open minded in the earliest stages. 

  5. Figure out the schools that you are 100% applying to by the end of October. After my first month in Rennes, I decided I wanted to apply through UCAS:

    1. UCAS - you will need a new recommendation specialized to your major/program of choice. I chose history! Use a teacher who has seen you excel and can depict your passion for this subject. 

    2. You can apply to up to five schools.

    3. It’s pretty straightforward, but I recommend going to a UCAS informational session to ask questions and prepare you for writing your UCAS personal statement. 

Us seniors getting lunch together.

Experience: Every. single. moment. is. incredible. I’m not going to lie, I've spent a few nights with tears running out of my eyes as if they were on fire, but that's a natural release of the mental pressure that's inevitable when learning a new language. But for every moment of overbearing stress, there are a thousand that remind you that it's worth it. The life you will live here is more surreal than you could ever imagine, which is why I'm grateful I can continue to move forward in my life with this experience in my pocket. Most of my friends here are juniors, and I can't recall how many times they've expressed to me how they wish they didn't have to go back to their normal lives after living through the perspective altering time that SYA brings you. As a senior, I get to start anew again next year as I continue into college, while the juniors must return to the lives they left behind. Doing your senior year abroad will be the best decision you can make. If you still aren't convinced, then do your junior year! Either way, listen to that gut feeling :) 

  • Campus Reporters
  • SYA France
A Cooking Catastrophe

Julia describes making dinner for her family and how it relates to studying the French language.

Comfort in Clay

Campus reporter Melinda writes about her weekly  ceramics class she takes with friends at SYA Spain.

A Roma: Mai Più

Phebe describes the misadventures she has had while in Rome with SYA Italy.

The Reunion

Meredith writes about the conflicting feeling she had when reunited with her Amerian family.