My high school career is in the books and I’m ready to enter the next stage of my life: college! But before I get too ahead of myself, I wanted to reflect and share some of my successes and regrets from the past four years.
Try Everything – Be Picky
Oxymoron? Maybe? You have probably heard to immerse yourself in clubs and sports and musicals and everything else you possibly can in high school and although this is great advice, it should not apply to all four years of high school. Long story short, try a little bit of everything freshmen year but then be picky with what you commit to. Personally, I think being really involved in two or three clubs is better than being a random member in ten. In those few clubs that you end up enjoying, work your way up the ranks and go for club president senior year.
Talk to Teachers
Yeah…this one I was not the best at. When I went to class, I focused on the information and passed up the funny stories and relationships formed during the extra time at the end of class. Instead, I spent every spare second getting a head start on homework. Although that benefited me with my busy schedule, I missed out on those relationships. Short term gain – long term loss. In the long run, doing a minute of homework in between classes isn’t worth neglecting relationships. Eventually, you are going to need recommendation letters in some form or another and these teachers that you have built relationships with will be able to personalize these letters and attest to your personality inside and outside the classroom setting.
High school is the time to try new things so stop being afraid to do so. Yes, most people in varsity sports already excel at whatever sport they are in but everyone starts some where. A lot of girls tried badminton, tennis, golf, lacrosse or ultimate frisbee for the first time at my high school and ended up joining the team and having a great time. Or maybe pass up competitive sports and go for intermurals instead if you are really that worried. The atmosphere of a school sports is WAY different than any club sport. It consumes your life for those few months of season because you have games and competitions almost every other day and practices in between, but you also do a lot of team bonding and fundraising that doesn’t normally happen with club sports.
Freshmen and sophomore year you don’t get too much choice in what classes you can or cannot do, but I encourage you to challenges yourself with honors or AP classes in the subjects that interested you most. I am more of a math and science person so those are the classes I took honors/AP credit classes. On the other end of the spectrum, don’t feel pressured to take advanced classes in subjects you don’t feel as strong in. I started off freshmen year in honors English and quickly learned that wasn’t the right place for me and ended up dropping the class. Taking harder classes will help you in the long run – it teaches you better studying and note taking strategies and forces you to reach out to a teacher for help. Sophomore year, I took an honors chemistry class that started with thirty people and by the end of the first unit we dropped down to twelve people. It was by far one of the toughest classes I took during high school and I considering dropping multiple times but I am glad I stuck with it – even if it meant going for help during lunch almost everyday.
High school is the time to try new things. Deja vu. You can take classes without worrying about wasting money (as you will soon discover in college is a great privilege). It is a good way to figure out if whatever career pathway you are thinking about is a good fit for you. If you have extra room in your schedule, try taking some classes in areas that you are not interested in either. You never know, it might make you fall in love with another career route. As a future dietetics student, I took a few child/teaching and business classes that will benefit me no matter what career field I end up pursuing. Not only do taking these type of classes help you figure out what you want to do, when applying for scholarships later it shows that you are passionate about that certain field.
To put a little background to this one, I applied to almost 30 different scholarships. Not the “give us your email and you are entered to win” but the real ones that require a resume, essay, recommendations and interviews. The aftermath? I didn’t get a single one. Now that’s a bit frustrating. A little reflection on that – I earned good grades, involved myself in clubs and sports and sent in good essays and recommendation letters but I didn’t stand out. There are plenty of people that are student council president and earn straight As but those are not the people that get the scholarships. The people that earn the scholarships are the self starters. They are the ones that have already gone above and beyond to pursue a passion – they take the initiative. They are the ones who wrote books or started their own business or participated in internships specific to their intended major. So to sum things up, worry less about writing scholarship application after scholarship application and focus more on being scholarship worthy.
That’s it for now friends. I wish you the best of luck for you current and future high school students, and for those of you who are high school alumni, I would love to hear what other advice you have for incoming students.