Pro-Tips to Make the Most Out of Your High School Years

Back-to school is upon us and, for many students, entering/returning to high school can be an intimidating and overwhelming situation. But the reality is, it’s a place where we spend four vital years learning, making new friends, and finding ourself. As a high-school graduate in 2012, I have some fresh perspective so you can make sure your high school years are nothing short of rewarding, stress-free, and memorable.

Freshmen

Keep your mind open and try new things.

It’s here…and you’re probably freaking out. You might be entering a new school with at least 10x the amount of people than you’re used to, and that’s scary! Initial thoughts might be “I hardly know anyone…,” but see this as an opportunity to befriend new people who might become life-long friends. How? Join an extra curricular activity or sit at a new table for lunch once a week. You’ll quickly find people with similar interests and passions, who enjoy the same activities that you do. And your classmates are probably as nervous as you are, even if they put on a confident face. Taking the initiative to introduce yourself and learn more about your classmates will probably be met with relief and excitement. 

If your school doesn’t offer a club or activity that you think would be successful, start your own! In fact, colleges look for students who are willing to be involved and have a strong role in leadership. So you could chalk it up as a friend and resume builder.

Sophomores

All-nighters are unnecessary evils and if you’re the first to get a car, you just became a chauffeur.

Classes start getting more intense this year, and it’s important to start honing good study practices. You’ll quickly learn that working on assignments in advance or studying small bits at a time, rather than cramming it all in, is more beneficial for you (and your grades) in the long run. After experiencing an all-nighter (which usually happens from poor planning), you’ll likely find yourself exhausted the next day and not retaining a lot of last night’s cram session. Reviewing (not cramming) your notes and flashcards the night and morning before a test is a great way to keep the high-level concepts fresh in your mind.

You’re also at the age where your parents are probably tired of driving you around. You may think you’ll want to be the first to get a car (freedom!!), but you’ll quickly realize being a chauffeur isn’t all that great. Getting a car means endless texts of “Do you want to go to_________?” (Translation: “Do you want to go to _________ and drive us there?“). It’s not the worst idea to hold off a few months on getting a car right away. You’ll thank yourself later when the majority of your friends have their own, and you can be that aforementioned texter (just maybe offer to chip in for gas every now and then).

Juniors

“Senioritis” is a real thing (it’s coming…) and college rejections aren’t the end of the world.

You’ve heard everyone talk about “senioritis”, but you’ve yet to experience it. Key word: yet. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s this horrible affliction where you slump around with absolutely no motivation to do just about anything; you know how much work you have to do and how much time you have to do it, but the motivation escapes you. Start to ward off bad habits now. Use a planner to keep yourself organized and on task. Get in the habit of doing a little bit of an assignment here and there so you don’t find yourself easily overwhelmed. Practice realistic time-management and give yourself the proper time it takes to focus on your assignments.

Speaking of time management: college applications can be very demanding…and once you’ve turned them in, it’s just as stressful waiting to hear back. Sometimes the news isn’t always ideal or what we had in mind, and that’s okay! Have a back-up plan and you’ll soon realize, as you progress through your career, that your hard work and experience will outweigh your alma matter. In my anecdotal experience, you will find yourself loving your attended university a lot more than you thought you would. As they say…when one door closes, another opens!

Seniors

Prom is definitely worth it and you only graduate from high school once.

Believe it or not, prom does lives up to the hype, but the thought of asking someone (or getting asked) to prom can evoke a case of the butterflies. It’s important to be confident and, ladies, it is perfectly okay to be the one to ask someone to Prom (take it from me!). You don’t need to wait around stressing yourself out for him/her to ask you…just do it yourself! After I finally got the courage to ask my date to Prom, I was SO thankful I did. Not only did he say “yes”, but I was getting to go with who I really wanted to, and that’s what makes prom night memorable…enjoying your company.

Graduation is the cherry on top of your high school experience. It’s an important milestone in your educational journey, and you made it. Now you’re probably asking yourself…”what comes next?” Maybe…gaining more independence? Prepping for college? Starting a full-time job? Determining what happens after graduation can be overwhelming and stressful (just like it was entering high school), but the possibilities are endless. This is now your time to shape the life you desire. You’re gaining additional responsibilities and arriving into “adulthood”.

But you’ve made it this far…where will you go next?

go confidently in the direction of your