My little sister started high school yesterday. I can't believe it! This prompted me to compile a list of tips about high school based on my experience. It may not cover every high schooler's experience because it's geared toward my sister and, in a way, myself, circa 2000. Please add your own advice and thoughts in the comments!
- Pick electives based on what you are interested in -- not what your friends are taking, not what your mom thinks you should take, not what's going to boost your GPA. You are the one who will have to sit through the class every single day, and if the teacher sucks, you'll at least be interested in the material.
- Demand a quality education. If you don't understand something, ask, and if you don't understand the answer, ask for clarification. That's why you're there -- to learn! And if a teacher is truly making it impossible to learn, you can go to the chair of the department; they may not do anything, but it never hurts to ask.
- You will forget your homework at least once, and the teacher may embarrass you for it. You will live through it, and you will be fine. Be the best student you can the rest of the time, and you'll have more license to make mistakes.
- Have more than one group of friends if at all possible. A huge blow-up drama is going to happen at least once, and you will need other friends outside that group to rely on.
- Even your best friend is going to hurt you sometime. Tell them how you feel. The difference between a good friend and not a good friend is not so much what they do, but whether they care that they've hurt you.
- Assume that everything you say about someone else is going to get back to them, no matter how much you trust the person you're talking to. Speak positively whenever possible.
- A relationship should not be like a glass ball, where you're afraid one wrong move will break it. It is not worth your energy to stress over doing the "wrong" thing; be kind and be yourself, and if that's not enough, he or she is not the right one for you.
- We sometimes have higher standards for others than for ourselves. If you're not sure if you're being treated well, ask yourself what you would tell your best friend if she were in the same situation.
- In the grand scheme of your life, going to dances and dating in high school are not as important as they will seem at the time. Nothing that happens in high school has any bearing on whether or not you will be married, and is not an indication of your self-worth in any way.
- Explore until you find something you love. Try new things. It doesn't have to be at all related to your future career; many colleges prefer people with a range of interests.
- Your time is valuable. Don't feel guilty about quitting activities that are not providing enough value to you for the time you're putting into them.
- Extracurricular activites can be a great place to make friends -- or not. Sometimes you'll love the activity but not click with the other people in the group, and that's OK.
- Achievement will never be worth more your health. Take care of yourself: drink enough water and get enough sleep, even if that means you have to finish your homework on the bus the next morning -- or not at all.
- You'll be sitting in a desk all day and sitting at a computer at night to do your homework (even my mandatory gym class was mostly sports, which involved a lot of sitting). Find a way to stay active -- whatever works for you.
- When you reach that point that you feel like you just can't handle everything, go see your school counselor. Skip class if you have to -- they'll work out the details for you. Taking care of you always comes first.