Advice for High School Students from the Class of 2022
As current high school seniors, it’s crazy to think about how fast the last four years have flown by. Of course, we still remember how intimidating it was to transition from middle to high school. After thinking back on the things we wish we could redo, we’ve decided to compile highschool advice from this year’s graduating class in order to help you have a regret-free high school experience. Some of these insights may seem contradictory, but this is reflective of the fact that there is no “right answer” to high school, no “right way” to successfully graduate. It varies by person, so don’t be afraid to experiment a little and find what’s right for you!
1. You Have Time
Many students, us included, forget that you have time to figure out what you want from life. It may seem like everything is happening all too quickly. In a mere four years, you’ll be moving onto college, entering the workforce, and becoming an adult. Is high school really enough time to find your passions and figure yourself out? Well, let us tell you right now, you don’t have to know what you want to do in life by graduation. Many of us that are graduating seniors still haven’t figured it out! And, even if we’ve already picked our major, there’s no telling where life will take us. There is no set timeline to find your path. Figuring out your goals takes time, and that’s okay. High school is all about discovery — learning what you like and what you definitely don’t. This leads to our second piece of highschool advice—get involved early!
2. Get Involved Early
This applies to upperclassmen as much as it applies to freshmen and sophomores; it’s never too late to start exploring! You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do in the long-term, but you can figure out what you want to do in the short-term—and who knows? Maybe this could help you discover a new interest along the way. So, how exactly do you explore what your school has to offer? We recommend starting with your schedule. Take advantage of some free spaces to take electives your school offers! But don’t randomly pick classes. Take some time and really consider whether the class is a good choice for you before blindly following the suggestions of friends, teachers, or even counselors. After school, consider joining clubs, sports, or volunteer groups. Remember, it doesn’t have to “look good” to colleges; it just has to interest you. If you ever dislike something, then you know not to waste time exploring it in the future; discovering what you don’t like is just as important as discovering your interests. But that begs the question—what if these opportunities don’t exist by you? This is where our third piece of highschool advice comes in!
3. Be a Self-Starter
High school is incredibly different from middle school. Everything, from picking classes to finding opportunities, will require more from self-motivation and self-efficacy. So now, more than ever, it’s important to take charge and be a self-starter (you are your own biggest advocate!). Learning self-reliance is not only incredibly important in the classroom, but also a critical skill that is needed beyond high school. It’s beneficial to start developing these skills now—learning how to study and teach yourself and finding the learning habits that work best for you. If you’re a visual learner, YouTube videos may be the way to go. Auditory learners can try podcasts, while everyone can benefit from lots of examples (we’re quite fond of using Khan Academy for the latter). The internet has a world of resources if you’re willing to look for them. That being said, never be afraid to reach out for help! Teachers are usually happy to assist with any problems you may be facing in the classroom. It’s good to be friends with your teachers. If they like you, they’ll be more willing to offer extensions, write recommendations, and assist you in other ways. Chat after class, send emails, or simply participate! From experience, a little goes a long way.
4. Find a Balance
For many students, high school can feel incredibly stressful. We get it. Between studying, clubs, and other commitments, there’s a lot on your plate. Even adults still struggle with a good work-life balance. Learning to take time for yourself is an incredibly important skill, and one we wish we’d known sooner. So, how do you manage a busy schedule and still find time to take care of yourself? One way is to fix your sleep schedule. If you’re asleep by 10 or 11 pm, you can wake up a bit earlier to do yoga, watch a show, or just chill. Another tip is to involve yourself in a few activities you enjoy instead of many clubs or activities that you don’t care as much about. One of the largest misconceptions is that to be successful after high school, you must join every club (or create a new one) and take on leadership positions left and right. In our experience, this tends to result in extra stress, and it often becomes difficult to remain highly involved in activities that we enjoy less. Being deeply involved in one or two activities is just as—if not more—impressive than surface-level commitments to many. In this sense, finding the right balance in high school is also important with regards to balancing doing what you thinkcolleges or employers want to see and doing what you truly want to do. Who knows? You may find it easier to be involved when you’re doing things you enjoy. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but there is truly no blueprint for success, and no “minimum” amount of activities you should be involved in. It’s okay—if not encouraged—to balance your academic needs with the activities you enjoy.
5. Have Fun!
We’re about to live up to our promise of being contradictory with this piece of advice—our very first insight was “You Have Time”, but we also realize that high school goes by quickly. Looking back, there are times we wish we hadn’t traded our sleep and sanity for a slightly better grade or GPA, and times when we wish we hadn’t stressed over doing things to “look good”. Though you should strive to be successful during high school, it’s important to remember to enjoy your years there as well. Not taking fun classes is one of our biggest regrets. If your school offers a cool elective, like baking, you should take it! Don’t worry about whether it’s weighted or not; as long as you do well, it won’t have a drastic effect on your GPA. College may not have classes like this, so use high school as a chance to explore. Above all else, don’t worry and don’t stress. Failures are inevitable, so master the art of picking yourself back up. Get lots of sleep and stay on top of assignments. Spend time with your friends, even if you’re super busy. Just like us, you’ll quickly realize that these four years will fly by in the blink of an eye. Everything—from the ephemeral problems to the enduring experiences—will work out, and you’ll find your way in the end. Just remember to make those memories before you’re tossing your graduation cap up in the air.