It is that time of year again when football has taken a hike (tee hee hee) and basketball is a recently distant memory. It is now the season of college visits, scholarship applications, essays, FAFSAs, senior pictures, and (dum, dum, dum!) graduation. YIKES! Unfortunately for my family, we have twins going through this demanding and stressful process. We aren’t losing one but two of our brood (pass the Kleenex please).

Tip number one: schedule senior pictures in advance if you want to choose when and who will take them. Something that I didn’t know is that if you are printing the pictures yourself the photographer must sign a release form. The photographer will also have to email the photos to the school yearbook staff and also the newspaper staff giving permission for the pictures to be published. Even though I took the pictures myself, I was still required to email the photos and give consent.

Tip two: don’t wait until the last minute to schedule college visits and to fill out scholarship forms. If you are in the same boat as me, your kids might not understand the seriousness of deadlines and you may end up having to light a fire under their rears to get them in gear. My daughter, Bailey, was pretty diligent with a little gentle nudging; however, my son Brandon gave me two days notice that his scholarships were due. We were sent scrambling to find people to write recommendation letters. When looking for people to write recommendations, a good place to start is teachers, ministers, bosses, or coaches. If struggling with the essay, English teachers are usually willing to help out. The scholarship process was rigorous, but finally, we have submitted every last one of them. Woo hoo! 

Tip three: the FAFSA is your friend NOT the enemy. It is FREE money after all. Take it from one who has done her own FAFSA since she was a senior. FAFSA’s are pretty straightforward and easy to fill out. You will need the birth dates and social security numbers of each member of your immediate family. The other thing you will need is you and your senior’s (if they have also filed) completed income tax form for the year. E-file is the easiest way to submit the information to the form. With your pin number, it uploads the information for you directly from the IRS. If you didn’t e-file, it is still pretty easy. The form is numbered and lettered and the FAFSA will tell you what to enter and where to find it on your tax form. 

Tip four: start gathering items for graduation throughout the year and not all at once right before the event. It is cheaper and less stressful that way. Make a list of needed items, people to invite, and make sure to get everyone’s current address. When you are about six weeks out, start mailing the invites (don’t forget to place your mailing address inside the envelope as well). When opening gifts, write down the giver and the gift as your senior opens them. Thank you cards are so much easier without scrambling to try to remember what gift came with what person. Don’t forget lodging for out of town guests. If you are renting a venue, they book up fast. You may want to book a year in advance. Hopefully, you and your senior will have blue skies and smiles along with the tears.

photo credit

Joanna Pruitt

Hey! I am Joanna Pruitt and I am a thirty something mother and stepmother to seven (yes, seven) teenagers ranging from the ages of 18 to 12 years old. I am married to the love of my life, Shawn. We have been married now for close to two years and we have never been happier. In addition to our children, we have two dogs, Tripp who is a shiba inu and Benny a shih tzu. I was a single mother of three for twelve years before Shawn and I met, and during that time, I received several degrees and am now a middle school and high school teacher. I just cannot seem to get away from teenagers! Oy Vey! It is a good thing that I love them. Check out more at my blog "Surviving Murphy's Law" at