The last year of high school is both exciting and overwhelming for students as it brings new expectations and opportunities. Some students suffer from senioritis, since they find it hard to stay motivated while reaching the end of their school days, while others might find it hard to balance school work with the stress of college applications.

Whether you feel like you have a handle on your senior year or are struggling to stay on top of your workload, here are 8 tips to help you maximize your learning opportunities and prepare you for your future:

1. Set short-term and long-term goals.

If setting goals isn’t something you normally do, consider picking up the habit this year. Brainstorm your goals and write them down or type them up. Consider breaking your long term goals into smaller steps to convert them into more manageable chunks. For example, a long term goal could be submitting all your college applications by a certain date. This can be divided into smaller steps by setting mini-deadlines for your personal essay and school-specific supplements to ensure you meet your final deadline. Not all goals have to be academic. You can set personal goals, too, such as setting aside one evening per week for a family night or reading for pleasure for 20 minutes three times a week.

2. Master the art of time management by using to-do lists and schedules.

Time management skills are essential to getting things done, especially when you have a lot on your plate. This means creating and sticking to study schedules. Get in the habit of starting your day dedicating five minutes to reviewing your daily schedule as well as allocating time to achieving each item on your list. Set time-limits for your tasks to help stave off procrastination, and if that doesn’t help, you can even use apps like FocusMe and Selfcontrol to block distractions!

Having an agenda or planner, or using apps like Google Calendar, can also help you stay on top of your different tasks. Don’t just use it to record homework and upcoming tests. Note down everything you need to remember, including practices, games, study sessions, and more. Mark important upcoming dates in your calendar, such as college applications deadlines, SAT/ACT registration deadlines, exam dates, SAT/ACT test dates. This will help you look ahead, plan effectively and avoid missing deadlines.

3. Stay organized – create a filing system that works for you!

Many classes include handouts, tests, and other loose-leaf assignments that can easily get misplaced in your backpack, your locker, the car, or even just contribute to a massive pile on your desk. These bits of paper are often needed later to help you prepare for your exams! Get in the habit of filing them away as soon as you come home each day -. Ensure you have allocated binders for each of your classes so you can easily look back on your work.

Digital handouts, despite being paperless, still run the risk of getting lost in the endless electronic shuffle. Create folders on your laptop for your different classes to stay on top of your work and get in the habit of filing away completed assignments.

4. Raise your hand!

Ensuring you participate in class may seem like an obvious tip, but it is easy to slack off when there is so much more going on to distract you. Successful students know that participating in class means staying engaged with their learning. Asking questions makes you a better self-advocate for your own learning, which is an important skill to hone before arriving at college. Asking questions also helps us better retain information, so raise that hand and speak up in class!

5. Learn to say “No!”

In your zealous need to make your college application as enticing as possible, you may find yourself falling into the trap of getting involved in every school activity or event. Perhaps you have built a reputation for strong leadership skills through your high school career and feel pressured to remain involved in everything. Whatever your reason, committing to every opportunity that comes your way may be a sure-fire way of burning out quickly, affecting your ability to achieve other goals. Carefully pick and choose your commitments and learn to say no to the rest. Keep your short and long term goals in mind when opportunities arise so you can make thoughtful decisions.

6. Prioritize self-care.

Take time to relax, get enough sleep, eat regular balanced meals, exercise and keep an eye on your mental well-being because these are absolutely necessary to succeed. Getting involved in a sport, if you haven’t done so already, is a great way to ensure a healthier lifestyle while giving your college application an extra boost. As senior year gets busier, make the time to eat regularly, go to bed at a reasonable hour, and factor in self-care time every day. In fact, putting yourself first will support your attempts to follow through on the rest of your commitments.

7. Create a support network.

One secret of a high achiever is the ability to understand that not everything must be accomplished alone. Know what resources are available to you and learn how to access them. Whether it is setting up a study group with your classmates to help each other or building strong relationships with your teachers, create a support system to help you tackle the year, even if you never have to use it. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed to ask for help. Accessing the support you need before things get out of hand is a great way of controlling the senior year chaos!

8. Don’t forget to socialize.

Socializing is an essential part of your school life. While you shouldn’t make it your top priority, cultivating friendships and interacting with your peers is important for your emotional and mental well-being. In addition to attending school functions, like sporting events and dances, try to regularly hang out with your friends on the weekend to unwind without the weekday pressures. Don’t forget to spend time with your family too!

Despite consistently organizing your day, prioritizing your work and generally keeping on top of senior year pressures, you may still find yourself overwhelmed at some point during the year. This is perfectly normal! Go back to your short and long-term goals, break these up into smaller, more manageable tasks and take one day at a time. Tap into your support system and take breaks when you need them. You will get through this stressful period… one step at a time! Do your best, plan your time effectively and you can achieve all you want and need to.