For some of us, a trip back to high school means going back in time, for some (like myself) at least 40 years! What’s interesting though, is that I have a very vivid memory of those high school years. I can easily remember my many wonderful teachers and friends, but it was the high school experience that really stuck with me and pushed me to further my education.
I feel fortunate to be able to hold onto those great memories of fun times and great friends, and not look back wishing that I could redo my experience.
Much of this has to do with my experience during this time. High school was a time of expanding my knowledge base beyond the core academics of English, math, science and social studies. I had the opportunity to obtain a well-rounded public education that included many electives in areas outside my core classes. Forty years later, I am still proud of what I accomplished during my time, but even more grateful for the excellent teachers who invested in me during this time in my life.
To avoid the pitfall of wishing for a redo, I offer this advice: Challenge yourself. Push yourself. Venture into the unknown areas of the curriculum that you never thought you’d try. Take as many advantages of this learning experience as you can, because you can. No one can stop you from trying out for any of the sport teams or plays, or speech debates that are available to all students.
This advice may seem intimidating, but it starts with small steps:
- Start early. If there is any way you can get into a program at your future high school the summer following your last year in middle school, do it. This could be participating in a weight lifting program during the summer. If the school offers drama, music or speech opportunities during this time, take advantage of them. This will give you a chance to meet fellow students before the school year starts, it also gets you involved right away in activities offered at your high school.
- Each quarter or semester, remind yourself of your priorities and goals. You are there to get the best education and learning the school has to offer. What grades will you demand of yourself? Build a study schedule and then adjust according to degree of difficulty as you go through the year. Once you reach a goal, cross it off and establish a new one. Push yourself to accomplish any goals set.
- Take advantage of unexpected experiences as they come your way. You never know when an opportunity becomes available and if it does, be willing to take advantage of it. For example, school announcements mention great experiences for students, whether it is an opportunity to volunteer at the recycling center or to audition for a school play. Take a chance, get involved and you’ll find that stretching your experiences pays a benefit to yourself and usually expands your skill set.
- Keep a record of your “beyond the classroom” experiences. After high school, you may be looking for employment before taking on the next educational experience, so keeping track of any community or volunteering activities you participated in, can put you in the driver’s seat of employment opportunities.
High school is a time to grow your experiences, your own learning opportunities and develop social and developmental relationships all around yourself. Forty years from now, you do not want to be that person that says, “I should have participated in the band. I should have gone out for wrestling. I should have participated in debate.”
Go out and make it happen.