High School Advice from a Current Senior
High school has many stereotypes and various good or bad connotations. Many say that your high school years are the best of your life, while some say that high school is the worst time of your life. I’m here to neither confirm nor deny either of those statements, but rather to reflect on my high school experience before the very end.
Freshman year is a weird transition phase because it is the awkward stage where students still feel like middle schoolers but are thrown into the world of high school. Try out for different sports or get involved in different clubs your freshman year. You can visit my article about why you should get involved here. Find your place and where you fit in best, but don’t be limited to that group or club. Expand your interests and find what you like and don’t like. High school will offer you so many different opportunities through your four years. Take them and don’t be afraid to learn about yourself. Also, listen to your older peers. They have the high school experience you might not have and while they like to make fun of you, they’ll definitely be willing to help. And as for the teasing, just accept it for a while because everyone has to go through it and no one is ever serious about it. Trust me, soon enough you’ll have your opportunity to pick on the newest group of freshmen, too.
Sophomore year is a little bit better for most students because they have a year of experience and are no longer the youngest kids in school. Sophomore year, I felt a lot more confident in finding my way around the school. I also took my first AP class during sophomore year. This was a challenge transitioning from middle school to freshman year honors classes to a college level class, even though it was Human Geography, “the easiest AP class”. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself in high school. Concentrating your tough classes in sophomore year is not a great idea, but at least start thinking about AP and honors classes. You might be surprised how interested you are in a certain class. In sophomore year, continue to explore your interests through extra-curricular involvement by joining clubs or sports or staying in the ones from the previous year.
Junior year is another awkward transition because students change from underclassmen to upperclassmen and often get new privileges, like open campus lunch. However, some say junior year is the toughest in terms of classwork. This is only what you make it out to be. Sure, my classes during junior year were difficult, but I was persistent and diligent in finishing my coursework and studying for exams. I still made time for hanging out with friends, participating in extra-curriculars, and relaxing. Junior year is the year of the ACT/SAT, but don’t get too stressed about all of your standardized tests. (For standardized test study tips, go here.) In junior year, begin exploring your college and career interests, but don’t feel pressured to decide anything. I wish I had done more college visits during junior year, but I also had a decent idea of what I wanted to do. And going back to AP classes, I only took one more during this year, but I absolutely loved it. It was a bit of a challenge, but proper attention and note-taking in class got me through it and I learned a lot of interesting information.
Senior year is by far the most bittersweet of all the grades. You have worked hard the past three years and you are finally at the top of the school. You can finally get all of the rewards and opportunities that you have waited all of high school to have. However, you have to go through the year knowing this is your last time doing some of this and that’s why it’s so bittersweet. You’re constantly reminiscing with others about your past years of school and it’s crazy to think the next place you go, you won’t have all of these people by your side anymore. Even if you didn’t like some of them or they didn’t like you, these peers you’ve been around for so long have grown up with you and you’ve learned and grown together. Senior year is a new and exciting step for everyone. Very few people actually know what they want to study in college and pursue as a career, so don’t get bummed out when people ask you your future plan and you have no clue. I started getting that question sophomore year and I still haven’t decided on anything completely, so don’t be afraid. Just don’t be too stressed about finding a college or choosing your major because people often change their major or switch colleges. You will find the right one for you. Don’t worry. Get involved senior year. Enjoy your last football games, the last talent show, the last homecoming, or the last play. You’ll obviously still be able to attend these events in college and when you’re home from college, but it won’t be the same. However, don’t go into the last events thinking that they are the last times. Knowing but not consciously thinking about a final event until it’s over will help you to experience it the way you want without forcing yourself to act a certain way. The end of your primary education is bittersweet, but entering college or whatever you choose to do is a new chapter. Take it on confidently and with pride.
In the wise words of Hannah Montana, “life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock”. High school can be a rough time for some, but ultimately, it’s only a stepping stone to your future. Your high school experience is whatever you choose it to be. For me, high school was a mix of highs and lows, but reflecting back on my times, I grew so much from middle and elementary school and I’m happy how my experiences changed me and helped me mature. So, as my article and my high school experience draw to a close, remember to enjoy your high school career in the moment and enjoy who you’re spending your high school years with.
Congratulations to my fellow seniors in the Class of 2017, we did it!