Important Advice for Surviving High School and College
Whether you’re starting college in the fall or not for another year or two, you are probably anticipating a big change in your life when you graduate high school. Will it be difficult? Will it be more fun? Am I going to discover or pursue my passion? Will I make friends easily? We thought it would be useful to put together some timeless wisdom that you can use to keep you on track until you graduate. If you set realistic expectations, you are much better equipped to handle the challenges that are coming.
- Studying is crucial – build and maintain good study habits from now! Some people underestimate the amount of hard work required to do well in college. Have people been telling you that you’re smart your whole life? Then you might tend to study less as hard as someone who’s otherwise seen as “average”. If they are used to studying twice as hard as you, then believe it or not, they will be more likely to succeed at their projects, exams, and even just keeping up with their attendance. It’s not about your IQ, it’s about the work you put in.
- Choose an extracurricular activity and get involved – Do you love music? Athletics? Journalism? Finding something to pour your energy into when you are stressed out or overwhelmed is going to help you stay sane and encourages your time management skills. Keep yourself in check, so make sure you are prioritizing your academics while also taking care of your mental health.
- You will meet others WAY MORE and WAY LESS accomplished than you – one thing to keep in mind is that everyone you’re meeting has a whole different experience than you. Even those with similar backgrounds, they have a different makeup, different goals, different way of looking at life, and you shouldn’t compare yourself to them. Competition can be healthy, but don’t put yourself down (or put others down) for the sake of it.
- Spend time with your family and friends while you can – you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can lose touch with everyone around you. If you end up going to college close to home, then it may not be the case, but you are going through a period in your life that will define your path afterwards. Are you the type that ignores family time and never gives your parents the time of day? It will hurt you later and you will regret it. Are you the type that makes the most of your time with your family and community? It will pay off when you are older and you will generally be happier for it.
- Maintain good relationships with your teachers and mentors – This isn’t just about them writing recommendations for you, but also because you have a lot to learn from them. They work hard not just to give you knowledge but to teach you important life skills. You must be open to receiving that from them and you never know when you’ll need their help even way, way, after high school! If you need to transfer to another university later, or apply for a job, you might need to get back in touch with them for help. They will be way more willing to help someone who always showed them appreciation.
- Make NEW friends, too – While it’s okay to want to stay in touch with your old friends as much as possible, making new friends is also important to your college years. You will rarely have another time in your life when it is so EASY to make friends. People in your classes, those who happen to hang out in the same campus spot as you, people in your dormitory, these are all opportunities for the formation of lifelong friendships.
- Seek advice when choosing classes or a major, but also don’t make decisions because someone is pressuring you to. If you’re interested in a couple of different majors, ask those currently taking those classes, or an advisor, or someone who is already working in that field! Everyone will think they know what’s best for you, or that their path is the best for you, so, like with most things in life, do your research, inform yourself, and then make an informed decision. Sometimes trusting your gut a little is also good.
- No school is perfect. Didn’t get into the college of your dreams? That’s okay, even the college of your dreams has its imperfections. Focus your energy on making the most of what you have been given, and that attitude will help you go a long way in life.
- Your brain can’t handle all your plans alone – WRITE. THINGS. DOWN. This is so important. You may want to attend a lecture, a soccer practice, and a party all in the same day. How unfortunate would it be if you forget to bring your notebook to class, show up to soccer practice with the wrong shoes, and end up late to the party because you had to find someone to borrow notes to catch up on what you missed? The struggle is real, and you can in fact keep up with it all if you stay organized. Stay VERY organized, write things down, whether it’s using a daily planner where you write things down physically or whether you use an app, just do whatever suits you.
- Get to know yourself well along the way. This is the key to figuring out what choices you need to be making. With all the pressure today to “find your calling” and “do something that makes you happy”, you may always question if you’re making the right choice. Maybe your calling is to be the jack-of-all-trades and find a versatile career. They do exist! The best piece of advice when it comes to answering this question is to get to know yourself: your strengths, your weaknesses, under which conditions you study best, who you look up to and why, what circumstances in your life you can’t change, who you can always count on for support if you need it, what challenges you are willing to take on, what bad habits you need to break, what good habits you have built, etc. And the earlier you try to figure that out, the better for your future.