High school can be the most exciting or the most challenging time of your academic career. I want to share six things that anyone can do to hit the ground running and make the most of your four years.
Knowing what to expect can be helpful for any student starting in high school. All school districts will have resources available for parents and students. Course catalogs, graduation requirements, or AP/IB offerings are all useful information for you to familiarize yourself with to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed.
Internalize good organizational skills in preparation for high school. Nowadays, there are a myriad of online resources as well as old-fashioned pen and paper solutions to making sure your many responsibilities as a student are accounted for. Everyone is different, so find what works best for you. Whichever you choose, having strong organizational skills from day one of high school will be a strong asset for you as a student.
We have seen many students come and go since our founding in 1996. One thing that has not changed is the importance of fundamental skills in reading, writing, and math. These are the building blocks of any student’s education. Students who lack this foundation can feel swept up and overwhelmed by the fast pace of high school. Spend some time reflecting on what your weaknesses are and target those areas. Whether it be seeking out challenging reading materials or reviewing troublesome units in your last Algebra class, a consistent approach will serve you well.
Admittedly, it is a little early for middle school students to be overly concerned about standardized testing. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take some early steps towards success. For example, the math portion of the SAT can draw from concepts you learn in Algebra 1 and Geometry. Questions regarding syntax and basic grammar usage can often trip up older students who have forgotten the rules of the English language and, instead, rely solely on their intuition and guesswork. Avoid wasting time in high school, dusting off the cobwebs from partially learned lessons, by making sure your earlier learning provides a strong foundation to build upon.
At the heart of any student’s extracurricular activity should be passion. When choosing an extracurricular activity that is right for you, start with figuring out what you are passionate about. No matter what it is, it takes real dedication to turn a hobby into something that will stand out on your college application. This means that the effort you put into these activities should not be for the sole purpose of diversifying your college application or trying to pretend to be a student you are not. Rather, it should come from a very genuine desire to improve, innovate, and/or self-development.
Once you decide what activity (or activities) you would like to participate in, all that’s left is to go do it. Find ways to demonstrate your craft and talent to the world! If you’re an aspiring musician, find a performance opportunity or local competition to participate in. If you’re an artist, develop a portfolio or find a welcoming space to host a small gallery. The opportunities are only limited by your proactivity and creativity.
Volunteering in your community provides a host of benefits for high school students. Boosting social skills, fostering a greater awareness of community, and exercising responsibility are all great reasons to volunteer. Much like extracurricular activities, being enthusiastic and passionate about volunteering will be apparent on a college application. If you are having trouble finding volunteer opportunities, try thinking outside the box to find areas of your community that may need a helping hand. Who knows what you may find?
High school is fun and more independent from parents but a stressful time in some ways. Check in with yourself, get regular and restful sleep, find like-minded friends, avoid comparing yourself to others, and make sure you are enjoying yourself. Looking at high school and college as a series of increasingly difficult hoops to jump through and boxes to check will be ineffectual and draining. Instead, focus on being an enthusiastic, well-rounded learner that colleges and universities will naturally want.
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