How to Succeed in High School

We, the upperclassmen, offer you this advice

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How to Succeed in High School

Guidance secretary Katie Cicero-Sega warmly greets visitors to the guidance office. Photo by Bridgitte Feldman

Guidance secretary Katie Cicero-Sega warmly greets visitors to the guidance office. Photo by Bridgitte Feldman

Guidance secretary Katie Cicero-Sega warmly greets visitors to the guidance office. Photo by Bridgitte Feldman

Guidance secretary Katie Cicero-Sega warmly greets visitors to the guidance office. Photo by Bridgitte Feldman

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Dear Underclassmen,

“High school is easy. It’s like riding a bike and the bike is on fire and the ground is on fire and everything’s on fire because you’re  in hell.” 

-meme attributed to high school senior Jonathan Boothe.

Some of you may have read an article I wrote last year entitled Dear Freshmen. Since then, I’ve learned and grown, and I’m now facing new challenges as a junior. But, as I’ve now supposedly successfully completed two years of high school, I thought I’d share my updated advice and that of my classmates.

*Disclaimer* The same advice doesn’t work for everyone. Things that work for me or are important to me may not work for you. This is why I’ve included advice from my fellow upperclassmen as well. Hopefully, within the wide spectrum of our advice, you’ll find something that makes your life a little easier.

Also, high school is hard. That’s just the way it is. You’re going to face things you’re not ready for, and even if it doesn’t seem like it, you will emerge from these obstacles more hellbent than ever. To quote Kelly Clarkson, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

Prioritize your mental health. If you’re in a bad place, don’t brush it off.”

NOTEBOOKS… Notebooks are amazing, and you know what’s even more amazing? Notebooks with pockets and fabric around the spiral so it doesn’t get caught on things. Notebooks hold all your notes together in one place, and they are much easier to carry around than binders.

Follow up: Take your notes on paper (in the amazing notebooks). I know you want to type all your notes and it seems so much easier, but multiple studies suggest that writing things down improves your retention of a topic. Plus, you can make your notes pretty with multi-colored pens, which I personally really enjoy.

It’s okay to quit. And it’s important to prioritize. This is something that I’ve really struggled with because I like to overcommit, but that leads to a level of stress that can be avoided. As someone who does a lot of things and doesn’t want to quit the majority of them, I can tell you that it’s important to choose your priorities now and stick to them. Don’t add another ten responsibilities your junior year, trust me.

Prioritize your mental health. If you’re in a bad place, don’t brush it off. It’s important to develop a healthy coping mechanisms now. If you need help, don’t hesitate to visit your guidance counselor, school psychologist Kevin Kemelhar or SAY counselor Marlon Walker.

Walk on the right side of the hallways, as in, not the left side. The right side is the correct side. When people walk on the wrong side of the hallway and don’t pay attention, they collide and  create a lot of unnecessary traffic, which makes it more difficult to get to class. Also, please don’t congregate in a large group in the middle of the hallway.

PLEASE don’t spray perfume in the bathroom or locker rooms. Some people are allergic to it or sensitive to strong smells. Put your perfume on at home, and leave it at that.

It’s okay to quit. And it’s important to prioritize.

Remember: you are your own person. Use your common sense and remember to treat people with kindness and consideration. It’s okay to mess up sometimes. In the words of Anna Kendrick’s character from Trolls, “[You] will get back up again.” Keep your head up and you’ll get through it.

Pearls of wisdom from upperclassmen (who contributed their advice in a survey sent out a few weeks ago) who aren’t me so you can be a well-rounded queen: 

  • It really helps so much to make friends in high school, but most especially friends that you can count on that will stick with you through thick and thin. They’re always going to be there for you, whether it be for school or even if you’re just feeling down, it always helps to have someone there who will listen to you and help you.
  • Always do your work. You’re going to feel like slacking off, but you need to know that it’s never going to help you in the long run. Staying on top of your game in high school is definitely going to help you as you get older, so you can’t afford to slow down now.
  • Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. High school is the best place for personal growth. Whether you’re trying out for a sports team, or you’re trying to get your voice to be heard in class, don’t let the fear of embarrassment or rejection weigh you down from even trying. Even if you don’t succeed, anything that you made an effort to do or try isn’t a failure. It can only serve as an experience or a lesson. 
  • Your GPA is important, and you shouldn’t brush it off as something trivial, because it will follow you forever. However, it doesn’t reflect who you are as a person. Of course you need to work hard, create good study habits, and strive for accomplishments, but it’s also important to balance your life in school with your life outside of school. You need to make the most of your high school life and value your surroundings before you’re on stage receiving your diploma. 
  • Slow down and pursue your passions and enjoyments. Lastly, don’t stress too much about mistakes. There are some things that are out of our control, and you can’t let those moments stress you out. Being upset about it is healthy, since it’ll push you forward to do better next time, but don’t worry so much that you beat yourself up. Anyway, you’ll be fine.
  • Take technology, health, gym, art and other credits instead of free periods whenever possible. Cramming graduation requirements into your last year or two is much more stressful than if you span your time out — it can also be disappointing to give up a class you were hoping to take to make room for one that you need but may not have wanted.
  • Get involved in clubs early on; it’s a lot more rewarding to you and appealing on your resume. However, never join a club for the sole purpose of boosting your resume; becoming genuinely involved and invested in extracurriculars should be the number one reason to do so.

Get involved in clubs early on; it’s a lot more rewarding to you and appealing on your resume. However, never join a club for the sole purpose of boosting your resume; becoming genuinely involved and invested in extracurriculars should be the number one reason to do so.”

  • You should never, ever go to the school basement. But if you do, and let me stress that you shouldn’t, but if you do… don’t open the black door. For the love of God don’t even look at it. Too many students have been lost to the unseen horrors on the other side of that door. Too many friends. Don’t open the black door.
  • It is fine to have fun and all, but during class time, focus and pay attention to the lesson. Just because there are many classes you aren’t interested in doesn’t mean you can just zone out. If you pay attention, and be an overall good student, you can score good boy/girl points and maybe you can secure a college recommendation letter from that teacher. Also, if you don’t understand something… GO SEE THE TEACHER. Don’t wait till it is test day to ask, you will fail.
  • Do your work and don’t slack. Underclassmen years are more important than you think. It’ll help you with the stress of junior and senior years when you are exhausted from the ACT and and APs and college applications. But just relax, everything will work itself out. Also don’t stress yourself out too much. Your grades are not worth compromising your mental health. 
  • Although it can be tempting at times, don’t compare yourself to others academically or socially.  You’ll find your niche of friends and you’ll settle in eventually so you don’t need to feel anxious about it.
  • Keep on top of your work, try and do it at school. If you are ready for you classes and have your homework done, school is not so bad. Keep your attendance up; it is better to be at class unprepared and honest with your teachers than skip and [become known as someone who skips class]. Just act like you care, and mind your own business. 

I hope you found our advice helpful, or at the very least, entertaining. In the end, just be your own person, try to make good choices and live your life to the fullest because you only get one high school experience. Make memories you’ll cherish and have a good time.

Sincerely,

Upperclassmen

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