Receiving your diploma from the high school that you spent the last four years of your life practically living at is a surreal experience. You are saying goodbye to a community that has shaped you into the person that you are today and the memories you have made along the way. High school graduation was such a bittersweet day for me. I honestly loved my high school experience and was sad to close that chapter of my life, but I was also excited for my future and to enter the “real world”. Today I want to share 5 things that I learned throughout my high school years in hopes that it will help any current high school students make the most out of the time they have left!
1. GET INVOLVED
I know you’ve probably heard this countless times, but its one of the best pieces of advice I can give! Today most high schools have a club for just about anything–heck my high school even has a League of Legends club–and if you cant seem to find your niche, talk to your administration about starting up a new club for you and your classmates! If that sounds a little bit too intimidating for you, you can always grab your friends and meet outside of school to bond over common interests! Also, don’t be afraid to join a sport just because you didn’t play in middle school or don’t think you would be any good at it. I joined track and field my junior year and it was one of the best decisions I made because I got to make so many new friends and memories that I will never forget. Another simple way to get involved in your school is to show off your school pride at a Friday night football game or go cheer on the soccer team. The whole point of getting involved in extra-curricular activities is to connect with your classmates and make the most out of your high school years.
2. START BUILDING YOUR GPA
If you’re a current freshman in high school I can’t stress this one enough–YOUR GPA MATTERS. Now I’m not gonna lie, your high school GPA won’t matter once you graduate, but for right now your GPA is the key to your future. I’ve had so many teachers throughout high school that see students stress over grades and their GPA and tell them “it’s going to be okay, one grade doesn’t matter, you will still graduate and go to college” DON’T BELIEVE THESE LIES FOR A MINUTE. (ok you will still graduate and go to college and have a great life, but just humor me) When you are applying to colleges the first two things a college will look at are your GPA and ACT/SAT score. If your scores or grades are too low you will automatically be put on a wait list or denied, that’s just how the system works. I’m not saying that you have to have a 4.0+ GPA to go college, but you should work hard in high school so you can earn a GPA that you are proud of and that you think accurately represents your intelligence. Your GPA will also be a deciding factor for many scholarships, and who doesn’t want free money?! It’s so much easier to lower your GPA with one bad grade than it is to higher it with a good grade so my best advice is to start with good habits your freshman year. Take an extra 20 minutes a night to study for your test, go in and ask for help before or after school, and build relationships with your teachers and peers. Your freshman year classes will most likely be your easiest classes, so take advantage of that. As a junior applying for college you’ll look back on your freshman year and want to punch yourself if you get a B in gym class and now you can’t get into the college of your dreams.
3. MAKE YOUR OWN CHOICES
It’s no secret that people do all kinds of stupid things in high school–me included. In my opinion the 4 years that you spend in high school are some of the most important years in your life. The decisions and habits you form in high school will most likely follow you to college so be aware of the consequences your actions. I have no doubt that either you or your friends will partake in certain “activities” that may or may not be illegal. Here’s what I have to say about that: if you don’t want to participate, don’t. I can PROMISE you that nobody will actually care if you choose not to, and if they do they are a straight up asshole and who cares what they think. If you feel pressured to do things that you don’t want to do, leave the area. No party is worth compromising your values and beliefs just to impress other people. Now if you are interested in these “activities” and are a first-timer please please please do it around people that you completely know and trust. In my opinion it is better to test things out around your friends in a controlled environment than at a frat party in college where bad things are bound to happen.
4. MAKE NEW FRIENDS
If you come from a relatively small town like I do, you probably grew up and had classes with the same kids year after year. I know for some people it can be especially hard to meet new people when your graduating class is less than 100 people, but I’m sure there are a few people that you still don’t know very well. When you start high school don’t be afraid to branch out and talk to anyone and everyone. The people that you least expect might become your best friends or inspire you in ways you couldn’t imagine. Never judge a book by it’s cover, there is usually a real and genuine person under every exterior. I ended high school with so many AMAZING friends (pictured below) that I never imagined I would have and I am so thankful for each and every one of them.
Also, make friends with your teachers and administrators. These are the people that you will go to for recommendation letters senior year, so establish relationships with them early on. They usually always have connections to the outside world and will be able to help you land a job or internship once you graduate.
5. REMEMBER IT WILL END
No matter if high school feels like the best 4 years of your life or the worst, always remember that it will soon come to an end. I know that for some people high school just isn’t their thing, and that’s okay. It can be hard to make really good friends if you just moved to a new school, come from a small town, or just have different interests than the people at your school. I know that everyday can feel like a struggle, trying to fit in and impress people who you will never talk to after you graduate, but all struggles eventually come to an end. Those 4 years might feel like an eternity, but on the day you graduate you will feel so liberated and excited for your new adventure.
For those of you who love high school (like I did): CHERISH EVERY SECOND. It probably feels like you have so much time before you graduate, (even if you are a senior) but you will be sitting in a monochromatic sea of caps and gowns before you know it. Take every opportunity you get to make memories because soon that’s all high school will be–a blurry memory. So go to every football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and hockey game you can. Support the art program by attending concerts, plays, and musicals. Always say yes to hanging out with a friend because you may never them after graduation. Don’t let negative people bring you down, you deserve to be happy. Make the most of every day and don’t give yourself the opportunity to regret anything.
I hope you learned a little something that will help you through your years of high school, or if you’ve already graduated, maybe you can relate to some of my advice. Don’t be afraid to leave your own high school advice below!