How to Survive High School

May 21, 2015

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To Freshmen/Sophomores:

  1. Try out for everything that catches your interest. Baseball? Yearbook? Band? Student Council? Since freshman year isn’t extremely heavy on homework, use this time to build your resume and list of activities.
  2. Don’t slack off on your grades. Bad grades, especially freshman year, can tank your GPA. Colleges look at your ninth through twelfth grade GPA. Which means every year counts.
  3. Think about your major. Colleges like to see that you’re passionate about what you plan to study. That’s not to say that your future is set in stone at sixteen (it’s not) but for the sake of college admissions, put some thought into your major as early as now. You may not know exactly what you want to major in, but it may be easy to narrow it down to a couple fields that you’re really interested in. From there, pursue that interest outside of the classroom through extra-curriculars. (Medical Club, Yearbook, etc.)
  4. Compete. Colleges like to be able to brag about their students, so try to compete in regional/national competitions in your extracurricular activity. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t win, but even placing at a regional/national level shows a level of commitment and achievement.
  5. Do you have a Dream School? If so, look into their admissions policies. It may be good to figure out what schools you plan to apply to as early as now.
  6. Peer Pressure: In high school, everyone is trying to find themselves. So don’t be discouraged by the people who try to put you down, and don’t give in to the feeling that you have to be “just like everybody else.” You are not alone. Stay positive, keep trying, and remember that you will get through this. Drama and friend groups change with the wind. If you feel alone or like you have no friends, it will change for the better before you know it.

To Juniors:

  1. It’s called hell year for a reason. Your junior year grades hold the most weight in determining your college readiness, and your junior year teachers will most likely be the ones writing you recommendation letters come senior year. So try your absolute hardest with schoolwork and build a good relationship with your teachers.
  2. ACT Tests: Take these ASAP! There are TONS of resources to study for these tests, so make use of them. Also, keep in mind that scoring highly on ACT/SAT tests can exempt you (just as with AP tests) from certain intro classes and college reqs.
  3. Leadership, Leadership, Leadership. If you’ve spent any amount of time on any college’s admissions page, you’ll notice that they all emphasize this. You can show leadership through a variety of different positions, from team captain to club president to manager at Starbucks.
  4. College Essays: Start early!! Narrow down your college list and hammer out some drafts. Your english teachers will play a huge role in helping you get a good start on these, some will even assign them as homework. Use their help and put time and effort into making them the best they can be.

Some Miscellaneous Advice:

  1. Make use of Summer. Summer is the time to do internships, research, volunteer work, and camps. But one rule of thumb: Whatever program you decide on, there will be an application process. If anyone can do it just by paying money, the program won’t be worth much to college admissions officers.
  2. Have fun. I cannot emphasize this enough. As much as grades are important, don’t waste your high school life with your head in your homework constantly. High school is the last time you will be surrounded by people so similar to you, take advantage of that and build life long friendships.
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