Do you ever look back at things you did as a small child, and wonder, what was I thinking? Believe it or not, you will someday look back on your time in high school and wonder the same thing! In the moment, we all feel that we’re doing things just right, but life has a way of teaching us a different perspective as we grow older. The following five pieces of advice are commonly cited by college students and twenty-somethings, as they look back on their time in high school.
You don’t need to decide the rest of your life right now. High school students are under intense pressure to select a college, choose a major, and map out a career path – all by the age of seventeen! Realistically, while it’s a good idea to have a tentative plan, most people don’t even fully know themselves at this age. Keep in mind that it’s okay to change your mind, change your major, or even change schools if something isn’t a good fit for you. We’re all evolving, every day; even middle-aged adults sometimes change their minds about their life path.
Make the most of high school academics. At times, high school might feel like an endless stream of homework assignments, essays, and tests. But try to keep the bigger picture in mind. All of this work is supposed to prepare you for college and your life beyond, so make the most of it. Take a math class, beyond the basic requirements, just in case you decide upon a lucrative STEM degree later. Enroll in an extra year of foreign language, in case you want try an exchange student program in college. Practice your study skills now, because the material only becomes more difficult in college. Now is the time to learn self discipline and practice communicating with your teachers.
Don’t focus solely on academics. Academics are important, because good grades and high test scores will help you gain admission to your college of choice. But there’s a lot more to life than biology and history. Before you venture out into the world on your own, learn some practical skills like changing tires, sewing on buttons, cooking, self defense, or doing your own laundry.
Do what makes you happy. No one ever looks back at high school and says, gosh, I’m so glad I signed up for all of those “cool” extracurricular activities that didn’t really interest me. People do look back and say, I wish I had pursued math club or tennis, but I was afraid of being unpopular. Having dozens of friends truly is less important than discovering yourself. Plus, you want your friends to know the real you, right?
The world is so much bigger than it feels right now. When you’re in high school, it can be difficult to imagine leaving your friends, moving to a new town or state (or country), changing your political opinions, or experiencing things that only seem to happen in books or movies. But there is a huge world of opportunity out there, waiting for you. Stay open to growth, new experiences, or changing viewpoints.