Ah, I can’t believe that I’m a seasoned upperclassman now! Well, as an experienced high schooler, there have definitely been MANY critical lessons I’ve learned the hard way. To help save you from the same mistakes that I made as a confused freshman in high school, here are some of my best tips for how to survive high school!
Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the links mentioned!
1. Be involved in clubs and activities
Becoming involved in school activities and clubs can be a great way for you to meet new people and gain experience. This is important because by joining a club about a particular subject, you can get to know others that have the same passions as you do and make new friends with the same interests. In addition, many of these clubs offer opportunities for students to gain experience in the topic, which is helpful for students who may want to explore different interests. Freshman year is especially a great time to try out many new clubs to see which ones you’re interested in doing for the rest of high school and possibly your future!
2. Participate in class
Building relationships with classmates and teachers can help you gain guidance and resources to succeed. During my freshman year, I was painfully shy and I would rarely talk in class. I wish that I could’ve built the courage to ask and answer questions in class, which would’ve helped me better understand the material and develop a better relationship with my teachers. In total, asking questions and participating in class is extremely helpful for building connections and education, so make sure to participate in class!
3. Create a balance between academics and your social life
Alright, everyone who’s seen high school movies knows the terrifying social-hierarchy-ecosystem that is high school, where popular girls reign supreme and the rest of us cower in fear. That’s not actually accurate, and I’ve broken this down about what American high school society is really like in my blog post that you can read about here. Being able to navigate high school popularity has been a journey for me, and it’s definitely one of the toughest parts of high school.
In addition, academics have always been an important part of high school for me, and while there may be petty drama and relationships, academics will most likely have the most impact on your future. Make sure to keep up with the studying, homework, and grades, and even though it can get stressful at times, trying your best is the most important thing. It may sound cheesy, but always think about whether or not you would be satistied with your effort no matter the results. Social events are also an important part of the high school experience as they help you meet new people and develop connections, but make sure to have a healthy balance between academics and these social events. Also, try to always do the extra-credit when it’s offered, you never know when it might help!
4. Use a planner
My mom always nagged me on creating a schedule and having a planner, and as always, mom knows best. Keeping a planner really helped me remember all the deadlines and test days, because before I got a planner, I would try to remember all of them in my head, which didn’t usually work. It’s also useful for scheduling, since I can just refer to my planner to see when I’m available. My school hands out free planners, but there are so many cute and functional planners online and in-store that are perfect. I bought my current planner for around $5, so you don’t always need to spend a fortune for a cute planner!
5. Take care of your health
The American Psychological Association found that 45% of teens were stressed by school, and this is a serious issue that can be detrimental to both your physical and emotional health. To illustrate, prolonged periods of stress can lead to a weakened immune system, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, just to name a few. These issues aren’t uncommon, and some high schoolers I know have become sick because of the stress of school. In addition, students often stay up late working on homework, texting with friends, or gaming, which is an issue as 72.7% of high school students do not get enough sleep. During high school, it is important to sleep well, eat well, and exercise to stay healthy.
6. Avoid procrastination and learn time management skills
It’s an issue that plagues most of us, as 86% of high school students stated that they procrastinate on assignments. However, high school helps develop your work ethic and habits, so it’s important to avoid these bad habits. While everyone understands the importance of productivity, sometimes the habit of procrastination is hard to break. Some apps that can help you stop procrastinating include Forest: Stay focused, which is an app that allows you to plant virtual trees if you don’t go on your phone for a period of time, StayFocusd, which is a Google Chrome extension that can help you set a time limit for certain websites, and Limit, which allows you to set a daily time limit for websites. All of these options are free.
7. Create a plan for high school
While most people think that it’s too early to plan out your life, I believe that it’s a good idea to map out your near future such as the classes you’ll take throughout high school, extracurriculars you do, resources you’ll need, and other activities to help you get to where you want to be in the future. I didn’t plan out my freshman year classes very well, so I got stuck with a couple classes that I didn’t exactly want or need. Make sure to think about what AP or IB classes you may take in the future so you won’t end up taking too many AP classes junior and senior year because of bad planning! Also, if you know any upperclassmen, take advantage of their wisdom and ask them about classes and teachers! They can provide lots of helpful insights into which classes are better and which ones you should take. I definitely wish I asked more people before I chose my classes. Luckily, I’ve written a post about how you can begin to explore your plan for high school and beyond here that you can check out!
8. Work hard and have fun
In the end, like everything in life, high school is an experience that allows you to learn and grow. You’ll make mistakes, but it’s crucial to learn from these mistakes. It’s a time to grow up and make decisions, which may be important life decisions. Take this time to meet new people, develop interests, and live the ultimate high school experience. Most of the petty things that matter now won’t matter later, so remember what’s important to you!
Bethune, Sophie. Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults. 2014, www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/teen-stress.
Neighmond, Patti. “School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say.” NPR, NPR, 2 Dec. 2013, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/12/02/246599742/school-stress-takes-a-toll-on-health-teens-and-parents-say.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “How Stress Affects Your Body and Behavior.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 4 Apr. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987.
“Sleep in Middle and High School Students.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Feb. 2018, www.cdc.gov/features/students-sleep/index.html.
“Think You Procrastinate Now? Wait ‘Til You Get to College!” Magoosh Blog | High School, 15 Apr. 2015, magoosh.com/hs/college-admissions/college-life/2014/think-you-procrastinate-now-wait-til-you-get-to-college/.