This is a guest post by my daughter, Liz (Eighty MPH Daughter!).
Upon graduating, I had the benefit of reflecting upon my years in required education. Except, I realized so little of it was required. I didn’t have to apply myself. I didn’t have to try. The only benefit you will really get, is if you actually apply yourself.
The only benefit you will really get, is if you actually apply yourself.
Sure, you can cruise through the four years, feeling like it was an absolute waste of time. Or you could gain some valuable skills. It’s all about perception, and I hope you take something from this before you go on your adventure through the sometimes murky waters of high school.
Tip #1: Try New Methods
“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein
One of the things I didn’t realize until the end of my high school years is to not try the same stupid thing. I would attempt to use the same studying techniques, regardless if they worked or not. So my advice is to try anything and everything in the world of studying.
Even if you find something successful, try different things, you may find something equally or even better! Study group, independent work, flash cards or dictation. Everybody is different, so no one approach will work for every person.
Tip #2: Help Yourself
There are three major types of learning, kinetic (touching physical things and performing actions), auditory
(listening to lectures), and visual (looking at objects or formulas.). Do yourself a favor and discover what kind of learner you are. You can be a mixture of the different types, or just one of the three. Blaming your teacher for not teaching your style will only get you so far. It is your own responsibility to take matters into your own hands and try to convert the lesson into something you can understand. For example, a visual learner may draw out the concept while listening to a lecture or a kinetic learner might try to create a hand motion that helps them remember.
Tip #3: Avoid Drama
Honestly, part of the reason my high school years were so tranquil was avoiding drama. With both friends and relationships, never stay with someone that makes you feel worthless or unhappy. Every person deserves a real friend that will take care of them when they are down and stay with them during the highs and lows. Don’t ever settle for someone less.
There are times when everybody feels alone, but waiting for that special person is worth it.
Tip #4: Have Well Establish Guidelines
I was lucky enough to have trusting, accepting parents, and we were able to set general rules for me going out. While these might not work for everyone, I think they’re very reasonable.
• Always drive safe or have someone driving that you know is a safe driver. Some examples of safety are wearing a seatbelt, not speeding, not drinking and driving, etc.
• Let your parents know where you’re going to be and with whom, and what time you’re planning on being home. Text them and let them know if your plans change.
• Have some money on you at any given time, in case of an emergency.
• Charge your cellphone before you leave and keep it on in case they need to contact you.
Once again, these are simply the rules my parents and I had, and they worked very well for us. However, it is important for both parent and child to establish their own expected behaviors BEFORE the need arises in a bad situation.
Tip #5: Poor Decisions Are Unavoidable
Sometimes, those rules are broken. Naturally, every teenager is allowed to make a few bad decisions. Biologically, the front lobe, which revolves around decision making and considering consequences, is not fully developed until roughly age 25. It’s not a matter of them being stupid and reckless and young, it’s simply anatomy. However, this is not an excuse.
Tip #6: Always Have an Escape Plan
It is incredibly important to learn to realize when a situation is going south. For example, going to a wild party may not be the end of the world, but some precautions are necessary. Before you even step foot inside the door, think about what it will take for you to get home safely that night, and not end up waking inside a dumpster in Las Vegas with a kidney missing. So, never go alone, find a person that you explicitly trust, and set ground rules for the evening. Establish behavioral guidelines you both agree to and be responsible for this person, as they will be for you. Tell them that as soon as something makes you uncomfortable, you are both leaving. Sure, you may be entering a place with cool people, but being realistic, very few of them give a single crap about you at the end of the day. They aren’t responsible for you or what happens to you, so finding a buddy to stay with is a great plan. Of course, this is a singular situation.
You should never have to feel insecure or in danger in any social situation. My own personal guideline is that the second something really unacceptable to me occurs, such as people smoking or a fight breaking out, I’m leaving. Take your friend you’ve been keeping an eye on and go. The evening will only get worse from there. Sure, you might not be the coolest kid, but in reality, safety is so much more important. This leads right into the next tip.
Tip #7: Be Able to Admit Your Mistakes
Granted this isn’t always a reality, but don’t be afraid to call your parents. You might not have told them that you were planning on being at this specific place that was supposed to be fun, but I’m fairly confident most parents are far more concerned about you being safe and sound at home then taking pleasure at pointing out every single mistake you made. It is a great sign of maturity to be able to own up to your mistakes and take them as a learning experience. Hopefully, poor decisions won’t come back to haunt you, but whatever is going to come, is going to come, and you’ll need to deal with that.
Tip #8: Don’t Be Afraid to Learn
Far too often, I have seen people that are exceptionally gifted in one area, but don’t want to be viewed as a nerd. PLEASE, don’t fall into this trap. If physics keeps you up at night, excited to learn, follow that, ask questions in class, and try on your homework. If someone teases you for that, especially for a female in the science field, they really don’t matter. Often, these people are insecure in their own lack of ability in that field and are trying to project it on to you. Don’t let them influence you, and follow what you want to do.
This is also important for your future. I was lucky enough to enroll in a Biomedical Science class that made me excited to learn every day. It ultimately led me to decide what I want to do as a profession when I went to a career fair. If you have no idea what you want to do after high school, take some random elective classes, such as a graphic design class or citizen law. If you have room in your schedule, and something sounds interesting, try it, as you never know where that path may lead.
Tip #9: Beware the AP Class
During my time in high school, I took 4 Advance Placement classes. Most high schools have these classes or something similar. These are college level, and can be used for college credit at certain colleges and can give your GPA a bump. This is great as it saves you both time and money, and makes you look really smart. Plus, this also gives you a taste of what the class is like in college, and a nice challenge. However, these are COLLEGE LEVEL COURSES. Yeah. So, especially for a sophomore, they can be incredibly challenging.
My general advice is, if you have a subject you are really interested in or do well in naturally, you might want to take it. I have seen many students unnecessarily stressed by taking an AP class they have no interest in just for the GPA boost. Well, news flash, if you don’t do well in the class, you not only don’t get the boost, but your overall GPA suffers as well. Ultimately, AP classes can be great, but approach with caution.
Tip #10: Breathe
This whole experience could be overwhelming, I know. For many students, this is the first large amount of stress they’ve ever felt. While charging head on into academics may work for some people, it can be torture for others. I specifically remember a moment in my chemistry class near the end of the semester, staring at the board with my brain completely fried. That exact moment when my brain switched off and my eyes glazed over in response to sheer, raw stress. So my response was to lay my head down on the desk and muffle a scream with my notebook. And then, after a pause, I remember I had to breathe. A simple inhale, a simple exhale. Sometimes, that’s all you can do, is to slow down and take a second to relax. A “I can sleep when I’m dead” mentality will only get you so far, so it is absolutely imperative to just find a second to remember the world.
The world isn’t going to implode in the next five seconds, the Earth is still turning, and everything is going to be okay. The world is so much bigger than you, just one student, in the history of mankind. So, just… breathe.
So in conclusion, I hope these tips will help any student or parent that reads them. While these may not work for everybody, I hope they will have even a small impact. High school is a grand experience, and hopefully, students will get the most out of it. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I will answer them!
Do you have any high school tips to share? I would love your thoughts on surviving high school and/or surviving the teen years!