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How to Make the Most of High School

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People who have been out of school for several years remember high school as a carefree time with little responsibility. There’s no denying that high schoolers don’t have as many obligations as a 40-year-old with a family and a mortgage, but balancing academics and extracurricular activities with friends, family and possibly even a part-time job can be tough.

The high school experience is four years of fun for some students and four years of torture for others, with most experiencing a mixture of the two. Whatever high school is like for you, try your best to get the most out of the experience. It will be over soon, and you don’t want to look back with regret.

Stop constantly comparing yourself to everyone else.

When you spend a considerable amount of time around other people—at home, in school, at work—it’s easy to see their flaws as well as their strengths. Although striving to improve your grades or better yourself in other ways because you admire those qualities in another person can be a positive thing, putting yourself down because you don’t “measure up” to people around you can put a serious dent in your self-esteem.

In the Huffington Post, Dr. Judith Orloff recommends that we should all learn to appreciate both the joys and hurdles in our lives. Easier said than done, but if you spend all of your time wallowing in self-pity because you aren’t as smart or pretty or thin or whatever as someone else, you’re probably overlooking all of the good qualities you have.

Remind yourself that this too shall pass.

Elementary school seems like it was a million years ago, even though you know it wasn’t. The same goes for middle school—wow, was it really just two or three years ago? Time really does fly, as the saying goes.

Nothing lasts forever, and people forget things fairly quickly. When you’re stressed out over an upcoming test or a huge breakup with your significant other or that embarrassing thing you did that everyone keeps making fun of, remind yourself that a week from now it probably won’t matter—at least not as much as it does right now.

So you got a bad grade on a chemistry test. So someone laughed at your outfit. Will you remember either of those incidents five years from now?

Set goals and pursue them.

Most people have a list of things they want to accomplish in the future, but those goals are merely wishes if you don’t do anything about them. During high school, you probably have a variety of both short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals may be something like “earn at least a B in every class this quarter” while long-term goals may be “get into a good college.”

If you want to achieve your goals, you need to pursue them! Nemours offers the following advice about goals:

1. Specific goals that are realistic work best.

2. Realize that it’s going to take some time for changes to become regular habits.

3. Say your goals out loud and write them down on paper. Repeating them and writing them regularly can help make them stick.

4. Doing things to please other people doesn’t do any good.

5. Don’t let the occasional bump in the road discourage you. Stuff happens. We all make mistakes. Realize that and move on.

Read books that aren’t required.

Animal Farm. The Great Gatsby. Lord of the Flies. The Crucible. Beowulf.

Some students never even get around to doing their assigned reading at all and turn to Cliff’s Notes instead, but the more you read, the better. Reading for just 20 to 30 minutes per day—books, not cryptic Facebook updates—helps improve your comprehension skills, expands your vocabulary, boosts your creativity and memory, and helps improve your writing skills.

One study even found that reading literature for pleasure as well as for critical analysis are both “valuable exercise” for our brains, reports Popular Science.

Think about what you want to be when you grow up.

Your major will play a “major” role in the occupation you enter after your college graduation, but you should have a good understanding of your interests, strengths and weaknesses during high school. Take elective courses in fields that you think you’d enjoy, speak with your teachers and counselors about potential careers, and spend a day at work with a family friend or relative to see what their job involves.

Having a good idea about your college major during high school will help ensure that you take the proper college prep classes to build a good foundation for the future.

Read More:

Being Popular in High School means High Paying Jobs

4 Big Reasons High School Students Should Take Community College Classes


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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