It’s that time of year again. The air is crisp, the leaves are crunchy and your brand-new school supplies are fresh out of their packaging. And if you’re a high school senior?

The beginning of the school year is going to entail a whole lot more than classes and tests. Yep, we’re talking about college essays, scholarship applications and a serious case of senioritis. Whether you’re itching to take more specialized classes, sick of the social scene your high school has to offer (“Oh, a football game then burgers at Steak-n-Shake again?”) or simply ready for that so-called independence everyone talks about, feeling ready to experience some freedom is to be expected senior year.

A lot of students try to bite off more than they can chew senior year.

Alyson Cohen, therapist

But this feeling can lead to missing out on some awesome experiences and even not giving school your all when it really matters. That’s why we spoke to experts to find out the best ways to really savor that final year of high school. Because, take it from us: it only happens once.

Don’t Overload Your Schedule With Grueling Classes

Go easy on the demanding courses if they’re not necessary for graduation. Instead, leave room for electives and extracurriculars you enjoy so your senior year feels less like a burden, says Alyson Cohen, a New York-based therapist who works with teens and young adults. “A lot of students try to bite off more than they can chew senior year by loading up on AP courses so that they can get into their reach schools,” she says. “This can lead to severe burnout.”

Remember the Value of a Good Night’s Sleep

The application process is a laborious one, and no doubt it can keep you up late or wake you up early some days. But when you can get your rest, do it. According to Ben Williamson, a school psychologist and counselor at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, students often — and unsurprisingly — feel lots of pressure during their senior year, which, in turn, leads to anxiety and apathy. “It’s hard to sleep with everything going on, but you have to rest up to fully experience this really important passage,” he says. “You won’t have this time in your life again, and you don’t want to feel like it went by in a haze.”

Actively Try to Meet People Outside of Your Social Circle

Leah Dworsky, a freshman at Boston University, says if she could rewind time and give herself one piece of advice before her senior year, it’d be to get out of her comfort zone more. “I feel like I missed out on building relationships with people who weren’t in my social circle because I was constantly focused on my existing relationships,” she explains.

Yes, you may have already gone through K-12 with many of your peers, but senior year is a good time to branch out and start a conversation with the person you’ve sat next to in accelerated social studies classes for four years but have somehow never spoken to. After all, people change a lot in their teens, and it’s worth giving them a chance to prove they, like you, aren’t who they were in the second grade. You never know how a person will impact you or who you could meet that will become a great friend for life.

Take the Time to Try Something New

If you’re likely leaving your hometown next year, create a bucket list and get started on it while you still can. Whether it’s finally making that drive to the amusement park a few hours away, taking a skiing lesson or exploring the local hiking trail with your friends, it’s about trying new things.

Doing these activities with your friends will help combat the common pitfall of missing out on or avoiding events during your senior year. Sometimes students make the mistake of passing on group activities because they know they’ll have so much more freedom when they’re on their own next year. But according to Josh Rosen, a freshman at The Ohio State University, that doesn’t always work out. “While my parents did give me a lot of freedom, I definitely could have enjoyed myself more senior year,” he says. “I wish I could go back and do more while I was still there.”

Stay Present

It’s not quite time to count down the hours until move-in day. While you may feel like all you can think about at the homecoming dance is the status of your reach-school application or how you’ll coordinate your comforter colors with your future roommate, it’s worth actively trying to stay in the moment. Try to take a break from your phone or computer each day and do an activity you enjoy like reading a book or taking a walk. “It will help keep your mind off of college application statuses, and you’ll likely end up being more relaxed overall,” suggests Cohen.

Most importantly, remember that completing high school is both a huge accomplishment and a once-in-a-lifetime milestone. Don’t let it pass you by.