We’ve all heard this sentence: High school is one of the defining moments in someone’s life. As intimidating as it sounds, the four years that someone spends in high school has the power of strongly influencing someone’s life in the future. I am aware that everyone has a different high school experience; I know people that want to be doctors, lawyers, social workers, and some people who do not know yet (that is perfectly okay!). In this article, I wanted to talk about my high school experience and to create a general guide that I wish I had before I became a high schooler. The guide below will include strategies that worked for me, strategies that did not work for me, and activities I wish I did.
Quick run down about my high school career
I was ranked 4/880 when I graduated high school, with a 3.9 GPA, over 45 credits for college courses, a position in Math Honor Society, and a member of Team 1 of my Science Olympiad team for 3 years. However, I probably got at least 4–5 hours of sleep everyday, needed my best friend coffee to function well, and had little time for myself to enjoy my hobbies (video games, drawing, reading). Despite that, I enjoyed what I did and I grew both as a person and as a student.
Strategies that worked in high school
In the past four years, the following three ideas and strategies worked for me and my busy schedule. However, I encourage you to find your own strategies or adapt some of mine and adjust it to your liking.
Throughout my high school career, I had 6–7 classes, at least 3 hours of homework, extracurriculars, a part-time job, and making sure that I have time to eat. Anyway, the biggest tip I can give to future high school students is to prioritize. When coming up with a daily, weekly or monthly plan, delegate enough time for your tasks. For example, I would always set 1–2 hours for homework (that I really don’t want to do) before I practice for Science Olympiad for 2–3 hours and work for 2 hours. By following this schedule, I came home with little to no homework and enough free time for my sleep.
2. Be flexible!
Some people work well with planners and some people work well without planners. I am part of the latter. Throughout high school, I kept a mental agenda of what I needed to do, and prioritized in my head. I found that some tasks may not fit your strict timing (example: work out for 1 hour). You might find that you have a busier day than expected, and you can only work out for 30 minutes to accomodate for your schedule. That is okay! Going with the flow will lessen your stress and feeling constricted by a very strict schedule.
3. Do things that you are passionate about!
Yes, this seems cliche to say but it is very important in your high school experience. For me, I am very passionate about Science Olympiad and joined when I was a sophomore in high school. In this experience, I got to compete in 20 competitions (some were at MIT, Princeton and Cornell), get 36 medals, with one of them being a 6th Place Medal in Anatomy and Physiology in the National Competition at Cornell this year. I also got to meet some of my friends, mentors, and my significant other. For some people, this passion may be in business (such as joining DECA), volunteering through Key Club, or simply cleaning the beach with your closest friends. Passion in what you love will be your fuel to survive high school, and without it you might find yourself lost.
Strategies that did not work in high school
Like successes, I inevitably encountered some failures in high school. Some of the following are strategies that did not work for me in high school
1. Stop being obsessed about other people!
It seems silly, but most people in high school will meet your arch-nemesis. You might find yourself thinking about what they are doing and how you need to catch up with them. At some instances, they might be interested in something completely different than your interests! Wasting your time and energy in keeping track of your “opponents” could be your greatest downfall. Focus on yourself and what you can control.
2. Don’t involve yourself in gossip.
This is another aspect of high school that is inevitable and could draw you into a journey of loathing other people and spreading information that you aren’t even supposed to know. Yes, gossip is a normal part of people’s lives (you still gossip to your mom about the classmates you don’t like, right?). However, do not let gossip consume your time and ruin your social standing and friendships. Words do hurt, as a wise man once said, and speak only when you absolutely need to. I will be honest that gossip has tarnished my reputation with some of my friends, but it’s never too late to stop and change for the better.
3. Do not meddle in other people’s affairs, even if other people = best friend.
This is the best way to lose friends, if you’re interested. Never put yourself in the middle of two people because you might lose one of them, if not both. The best thing to do is stay out of other people’s businesses, unless they ask you for advice. I lost two of my best friends this way, and granted I was better off without one of them. My advice to you is to focus on yourself and save yourself the drama. You really don’t need it.
Stuff I wish I did but did not do
1. Join clubs that I normally would not join
The club that I mainly focused on was Science Olympiad, and I didn’t get a chance to join clubs like Key Club, Model United Nations, and Debate. While the clubs I listed aren’t my forte, I missed the opportunity to build upon skills in this club, increase my networking, and meet new friends. Do not limit yourself to one club. There are so much more out there. Be limitless!
2. Start a club
I thought that starting a club was too much work and it would not benefit me a lot. However, I started realizing that there were clubs I did not get to join in my high school because no one sponsored it. I would have loved to competed in Biology Olympiad, Quiz Bowl, etc. If your school does not have clubs that you would have wanted to joint, start it!
3. Apply for scholarships!
This will be a lifesaver in the future. I found out that I missed so many chances to apply for scholarships that could help me for undergrad. Some of these scholarships may be competitive, but they are worth it. I recommend researching scholarships around the summer of your junior and senior year. It will pay off!
Overall, I was happy with my high school experiences but there is always something you could do more. Now that I am starting college, I hope to discover more and push myself. Good luck everyone!