Laura Berlinsky-Schine 7 min read 12th Grade

Senior Year Bucket List: 52 Things to Do Before Graduation

Reaching the end of high school is a bittersweet journey. On the one hand, you’re starting a new life, one where you can explore your passions, develop your career skills and ambitions, and find like-minded people along the way. At the same time, you’re also saying goodbye to friends, family, and your childhood.

 

Before you graduate, make sure you’ve gotten the most out of your high school experience, your hometown (whether or not you’re leaving), and your time with the people you love. And be sure to check off these senior year bucket list items — you’ll be glad you did!

 

1. Figure out your long-term plans.

 

This is a must-do for every senior. Planning to go to college? Start a job? Whatever you do, make sure you have a concrete plan nailed down well before graduation rolls around.

 

You should also identify resources that are available to you to help you as you formulate your goals for the future. For example, our Chancing Engine will predict your real odds of admission to hundreds of colleges and universities, and we offer essay guides to prepare you for supplemental and Common App prompts.

 

Virtual Activities You Can Do During COVID-19 (or Anytime)

 

This year, COVID-19 makes it difficult to do the traditional items on a senior bucket list, so we’ve included a few activities you can do from home.

 

2. Start a virtual book club.

 

When you start college, you may just realize how much you love (or miss) reading for pleasure. Starting a virtual book club now will help instill a sense of commitment to reading on your own, outside of what you need to do for class.

 

3. Have an all-night movie or TV marathon with your friends.

 

With tools like Netflix Party, you don’t even have to be in the same room to enjoy a show together.

 

4. Visit a world-famous attraction or museum via your phone or computer.

 

Never been to Paris? Don’t worry! Now, you can tour the Louvre from the comfort of your couch.

 

5. Attend a play.

 

Same goes with Broadway shows. Watch hits via Broadway HD. You even get a free trial!

 

6. Start a virtual club at school.

 

Do you regret not being more engaged in high school? Leave your mark by starting a virtual club — whether it’s speaking French, playing chess, or brainstorming community service projects.

 

7. Have a virtual karaoke night.

 

Belt it out on Zoom!

 

8. Take an online class in a skill or subject you’ve always wanted to learn.

 

From languages to coding to music, there are so many skills you can explore via online classes, sometimes even for free. Duolingo, Khan Academy, Udemy, and Codeacademy are places to start.

 

9. Download a budgeting app.

 

Now is a good time to start learning how to manage your money. Apps like Mint will help you budget and keep track of your finances.

 

10. Watch a TED talk.

 

Learn how to spot a liar. Discover what makes a good life. Ted talks cover so many interesting topics, and these are only the tip of the iceberg.

 

11. Create a LinkedIn profile.

 

This will prove essential to your career development. You’ll use it to discover jobs, apply to jobs, and network. Plus, you may even get noticed by recruiters. You’ll be glad you’re doing it now rather than later!

 

12. Start a blog or website.

 

Is there a topic you’ve always wanted to write about? Now is the time. 

 

Everything Else

 

13. Sleep in.

 

Take the time to just relax and not set your alarm (we recommend the weekend for this one).

 

14. Learn how to cook the basics.

 

Like eggs, pasta, and maybe even a vegetable. Trust me, you don’t want to be subsisting off of ramen and Easy Mac during your entire college career…and everyone needs a break from dining hall food.

 

15. Do something that scares you.

 

Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote “You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” I made this a new year’s resolution as an adult once. Every day, I made myself do something that I was afraid to do. While you don’t need to do something that scares you every single day, try to do something, even one thing, that requires courage you haven’t been able to muster in the past.

 

16. Make a new friend outside of your typical circle.

 

Some of your friends will stick with you through college and even the course of your adult life. But you may grow apart from others. Take this time to talk to someone you haven’t gotten to know in the past. This could be a lifelong friend!

 

17. Get to know a teacher outside of class.

 

High school teachers not only write your college recommendations; they can also become mentors and even friends. I still have coffee with some of my high school teachers whenever I return to my hometown.

 

18. Spend at least one day volunteering.

 

Take the time to give back to your community. Check out some of our suggestions for ideas.

 

19. Start a journal.

 

One day, you’ll be glad to look back on your thoughts when you were a teenager and reflect on how much you’ve grown.

 

20. Attend an athletic or school spirit event.

 

Even if you’re not really the school spirit type, these events can be a lot of fun. 

 

21. Write a letter to someone you admire.

 

It can be someone famous or a mentor — even a friend.

 

22. Make a physical photo album.

 

Sure, you have Instagram, but a physical photo album is a keepsake you can have forever. You’ll appreciate the memories when you’re in college and later on.

 

23. Get your driver’s license (if you haven’t yet).

 

This will be so, so useful, even if you’re going off to New York or another city with great public transportation.

 

24. Apologize to anyone you’ve wronged.

 

Try to make amends and close high school on a high note, without regrets. (Remember: the person doesn’t have to accept your apology. You can only control your own actions.)

 

25. Watch the sunrise.

 

Take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of the world.

 

26. Read a long work of literature.

 

Long classics like War and Peace and Don Quixote are certainly worth your time and will contribute to your learning.

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Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

27. Register to vote as soon as you turn 18.

 

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that it is absolutely essential to participate in democracy. Usually, you can vote absentee in your hometown or in-person wherever you attend college (this year, many places allowed mail-in voting beyond the normal restrictions due to COVID). Try to get everything squared away before you leave home.

 

28. Take a trip.

 

Right now, it might be a little difficult, but if you can, try to visit a place you’ve always wanted to see — safely, of course!

 

29. Try a restaurant you’ve never dined at in your hometown.

 

It could be a fancy place — why not splurge? — or one you’ve always been meaning to try.

 

30. Visit an attraction in your hometown.

 

Be a tourist for the day. This may not be your town or city forever, so get to know it now.

 

31. Write a letter to your future self.

 

Seal it and open it the day you graduate college. 

 

32. Have dinner with your family every day for a week.

 

This is time you’ll never get back. Who knows the next time you’ll be able to sit together as a family?

 

33. Take a mental health day.

 

This should be parent-sanctioned, of course. Take a day to just relax after working really, really hard. Then go back to school refreshed.

 

34. Buy yourself something completely frivolous.

 

Maybe those great boots you’ve been coveting?

 

35. Donate blood.

 

Help save a life! (NB: age, weight, and other restrictions apply.)

 

36. Develop a mental health regimen.

 

Try different techniques to find out what really helps you, such as mindfulness meditation, a long run in the morning, or getting out your thoughts on paper.

 

37. Start a new tradition.

 

This could be solo or with family or friends. For example, perhaps you’ll establish pizza Wednesdays.

 

38. Spend an entire day with your sibling(s).

 

Sure, they irritate you sometimes, but you love them underneath it all. Have a day when you hang out, just the two of you, before you head off into the real world. 

 

39. Give your younger siblings or friends one piece of really good advice.

 

What did you wish you knew when you were their age?

 

40. Ask a mentor, teacher, or parent for one piece of really good advice.

 

What did they wish they knew when they were your age?

 

41. Secure a summer job.

 

Start developing your work ethic and earn a little spending money.

 

42. Learn how to self-soothe.

 

When you’re really upset, you probably want to turn to someone for support, like a good friend. That’s okay! But it’s also important to learn how to self-soothe and work through your feelings on your own by developing strong coping skills. You will encounter challenges, and this is an important way to get through them.

 

43. Make someone a birthday cake.

 

A parent, a friend, a sibling, your pet (I have a great dog cake recipe!), or even yourself!

 

44. Get into the habit of exercising.

 

It’s an important, healthy habit you should establish now so it will become part of your regular routine.

 

45. Write thank-you notes to the teachers who have inspired you.

 

Teachers love hearing from students they impacted. Why not let them know how much you learned from them and the lessons you’ll take with you?

 

46. Write thank-you notes to your parents or guardians.

 

They gave you guidance and support, put up with your bad moods (you know you had them), and, of course, raised you to be the person you are today. They will certainly appreciate the recognition.

 

47. Do something for yourself just because.

 

Whether that’s getting a pedicure, eating a cupcake, on building a snowperson.

 

48. Get a credit or debit card.

 

And use it responsibly, always keeping track of bills and due dates and not exceeding what’s in your bank account.

 

49. Save money.

 

Create a rainy day fund, along with putting away money in your savings account. You’ll find it incredibly helpful to have extra spending money next year.

 

50. Do a social media cleanse.

 

Just for a day — or longer if you can!

 

51. Redecorate your childhood bedroom.

 

Don’t throw out your childhood treasures, but store them away and redecorate according to your current tastes so you have someplace appealing to stay when you visit.

 

52. Graduate.

 

You did it!

 

What’s on your senior year bucket list?

 

Remember to sign up for your free CollegeVine account to get a jumpstart on your college search. We can help you create a best-fit school list based on your chances, finances, and preferences. 

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.