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How to Survive High School
I began working on this piece when I was in my junior year and finished it this year (senior year). Being that I'm a student, It's a very realistic guide and I believe it can be very helpful.
Entering High School is one of the biggest changes you’ll make in all your life. It’s important to think about which high school you want to go to. The high school you go to results in the college you’ll go to and later on the job you take on. Everything matters and everything leads to the next. If you want to succeed in life, you must first survive high school.
The change from elementary to high school is a drastic one. In elementary school, you have cubbies in your classroom filled with the books you need making life so much easier; you have a long recess break, where you get to play outdoors and enjoy time with your friends; and snack time. For every subject, you have the same teachers and the same classmates. The days aren't so long and the curriculum is manageable. If you think elementary school was hard, than you have a lot ahead of you.
High school is nothing compared to elementary school. High school is preparing you for the real world and what stands ahead of you. The teachers in high school know that, and for that reason they make you work hard and expect a lot from you. Most of the things you do, the classes you take, and the relationships you build will stay with you for a long time; whether you major in that subject or that friend marches in your wedding. But it’s not easy.
There’s a completely new atmosphere in high school. The hallways are filled with new faces and big people shoving you without notice, longer hours, harder curriculum, and very few hours of sleep. Every period— a new subject, a new teacher. Every class— different classmates, more work. Every hour is longer than the last. The people around you are of all ages, pushing and shoving each other in the hallways eager to get to their next class. What stands in front of them is not their problem— it’s all about making it on time to your next class. It’s sort of like survival of the fittest. Everyone wants to succeed in their own way. For example, if someone is in a rush to make it to their next class early, they will run in the hallways and push and shove. If that rushed student accidentally knocks your books over, they're not likely to stop and help you to pick everything up; you'll just be late to your class.
High school is a lot to take in. The best way to get through high school is alongside people who believe in you and make you work for what they see, but also make you laugh throughout your journey. This guideline will help you survive high school and walk out prepared for everything and anything.
Time management is one of the most challenging things to master in life, not just in high school, but in the real world too. In order to be able to properly manage your time, you have to be well organized and set your priorities straight.
Organization is a skill that many people find difficult to have, but it most certainly is not! It’s not something you're born with, it’s something you can easily grow into or adapt to when necessary. When you want something done the right way, you must organize yourself so that it results in the best way possible.
To start from scratch with organization, you have to first make a list. Start off with all the things you have scheduled, tests, quizzes, homeworks… then add the events you have or plan to do after school and on your free time. This list will help you visually see on paper all the events that lay ahead of you, giving you time to plan how to prevent the stress that’s soon coming your way.
Once this list is written out on paper, you need to prioritize things. You must think about what is more important for you to accomplish, more time consuming, and the projects that have due dates. By writing all these events down, you are already halfway to a stress-free and more organized week.
Next you should set an estimated time each event will take. It’s important to do this so you can make sure to have time to get all your work done at a reasonable time. Not only will setting times help you stay on track, but you will also be able to leave time for relaxing.
After the times and activities are set straight, you can begin to fill out your schedule so you are organized in the best way possible. This schedule will help you so much! You'll be able to see what stands ahead of you so you can prepare in advance. It may seem like it takes a lot of time to organize yourself, but it gets easier as the year goes on. Soon it’ll become a habit for you to write down your assignments.
If you want to be REALLY organized, you can even color coordinate/ coat your schedule. For example:
Write all your tests, homework assignments, and out of school activities in different colors. It sometimes may be annoying to have to find each color if you quickly need to jot something down, so instead you can just use shapes! A different shape around each statement will help you easily see what’s on your schedule... and post-its work just as well!
Extracurriculars are so fun to be a part of. They're not mandatory and all you do is benefit. You get to choose what you like to do and take the courses of your choice. You learn a lot from it and can sometimes even get an extra grade on your report card.
It's not easy to think about what you want to be when you grow up or what you want to major in once you got to college. In fact, it’s one of the hardest questions for a student to answer. In order to simplify your life, keep an open mind. There’s a myriad amount of extracurriculars you can be a part of. Sign up for anything that interests you or catches your attention; even if you never tried it before. Go to the first few classes and see if it interests you and if you think it’s beneficial for you, but if it’s not a course you find interesting, you can always drop it-- it is an EXTRAcurricular..
It’s sometimes hard to make time for extracurricular activities, since you'll be busy with your classes already, but if it’s something you like— you should definitely give it a shot. It’s important to be able to manage your time well if you're going to be adding extracurriculars to your schedule.
Whether you’re into sports, math, history, different languages, art…. The choices are endless! Everything is right in front of you. All you have to do-- is sign up for the class and attend the first few lessons. Give it a shot, what’s there to lose?
The faculty in your school play a big role in your four years of high school. Whether they are your teacher in the classroom, or just a teacher you see in the hallway, you will learn many things from them by the time you graduate. Teachers may have either a good or bad effect on you. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of how you handle the situation.
Good teachers— Where to begin… a good teacher is one who teaches their students not only what’s in the books and what they are being tested on, but life lessons as well. A good teacher is one that cares for their students feelings and personal life. A good teacher is one that can control the classroom and teach while also holding everyone’s attention because the class is enjoyable and the students are entertained as well as interested. A good teacher is one who wants all of their students to succeed. A good teacher is one that doesn't give up on students at a slow pace and believes in all of their students success.
If you're lucky you'll have many good teachers within your 4 years of high school. The good teachers are usually the ones who give a lot of work, but since the teacher is so amazing, you’ll learn a lot and be able to do your assignments.
Bad teachers— how does one define a bad teacher…? For starters, they can't control the class. They claim that want you to succeed and they're doing “what's best for you,” but in a student’s eyes, it’s nothing like that!! It’s more like, “you can't control the class and I’m being punished for other students poor behavior.” Bad teachers can be bad in many different ways. Whether they’re just not as experienced in actually teaching, don't care for their students, or give an insane amount of work with such little time andddddd on top of the many other courses you're taking.
Some teachers don't even take it into account of how much work and pressure their students have/ are under, and it’s hard. The best way to deal with teachers like these are to keep your head up because although it might not look like the teacher wants you to succeed (since they give so much work), they secretly do. All teachers want their students to succeed for two main reasons 1. to teach them because they care 2. (more selfish, yet more realistically), a student’s success reflects a teachers teaching ability.
It’s important to form relationships with faculty members. Anyone will do-- someone from the office, guidance, a security guard, teachers that taught you, and even ones that didn’t. These teachers that you bond with will watch you grow from freshman year and know more about you than anyone else. By the time you graduate, that teacher will see your transformation and not even just see the end result, but will be able to say they watched the whole transition!
Teachers were once students and they’re human too! They know the struggles of life and barriers and they can most of the time relate, especially once they're older and have experienced so much more. You can learn so much from anyone by just sitting and talking to them about life or you're day. The teachers that are easy to talk to are the best, take advantage of the time that teacher gives you because at the end of the day the relationship you form will be worth the time and may even be beneficial to you when you need recommendation letters for college.
Notes in school require a lot of organization and patience. You need to work out a system that works for you. For starters, your looseleafs and binders need to be organized in a way that you know and understand and will work out with your schedule. For example, if you have certain classes in the morning and others after lunch, split the two parts of the day into two different looseleafs or put the subjects that require the most work together and that will be your most valuable looseleaf. This separation of subjects will make a big difference in the way you keep your notes organized. (See more about organization in Chapter 2)
If you’re a very neat person and colored pens help you, then writing in colors is awesome. It helps you organize each subject by topic and you can even underline the main idea of topics or highlight important quotes. The best part about writing with colors in your notes is that when you have a test you know which topics are important because they are highlighted.
If you’re not so into colors or you think it takes too much time, don't worry. That's very understandable. Color coordinating your notes is so time consuming and if you're not quick enough you may miss a topic in class while you try to organize last topic and it becomes too complicated. If you prefer to stick to black and blue pens--- that's just fine. The right way to write notes in an organized way does not require colors. It doesn't even matter if your notes look sloppy in other people's eyes, as long as you understand your notes-- that's all that matters. If it helps you to make bullet points, dashes, roman numerals, or even bubble in certain words thats great!
When it comes time for a test (if you follow this advice), you will have all the notes right in front of you! The main ideas and emphasized topics will be bolded in some way so that they stick out and it’ll be easier for you to study and even faster!
When you have a test, make a review sheet. It’s understandable that it’s time consuming, but this review sheet will be a lifesaver!!!! When you go to bed, you can bring the review with you and quickly review before you sleep. You can also review throughout the day during breakfast, lunch, and even in between classes. But don't throw it out after the test… (read Chapter 7) You’ll thank me later...
Friends are so important to have on your journey throughout high school. You need friends for the many different journeys in your life, but especially the journey of highschool. It’s important to be well-rounded when it comes to school friends. Be acquainted with students in other classes, other grades, and especially the ones in your class. Don’t forget to stay close to your friends even if they aren't in your class. It’s definitely not worth it to drift just because you're in different classes.
Friends in your class are a must. If you don't have any friends in your class, get out of there quickly. You should at least have one person that’s a go-to for projects or any other assignments, one person to do homework and study for tests with, and hopefully you can rely on that same person when you're absent.
In many subjects, classes are mixed. Make sure to be friends with the other kids in that class because when a teacher assigns work or when a teacher is absent, you’d have someone to work with and enjoy their company.
You should work hard in school, but at the same time enjoy it! It’s only four years. In these four years you find yourself. You make friends that last a lifetime, friends that graduate high school with you and stay by your side.
Of course there are bullies in high school, but don't worry. You can make it through. You did it in elementary school and you can do it again. There are mean people everywhere, but if you build yourself up, (which you'll learn how to by yourself in highschool), nothing and no one will get in your way. It’s all up to you. Everything that happens is in your hands. Make the right choices. Don't fall to peer pressure. Make friends with the right people, people that make you smile, laugh, and especially people that are there for you when you need them.
Look back at Chapter 5 for some note-taking skills. One of the main points were: stay ORGANIZED. Organization comes into play when preparing for your finals: Everytime you study for a test you should make a small review 2-3 pages long with bullet points of important information that you are responsible to know for your test. After taking the test, don't throw that review out; instead put it to the side and save it because it will save you a LOT of time when finals come around.
Once finals start, all you have to do is gather your stack of review sheets and DONE- everything is right in front of you. You stayed organized, took great notes, and now you're prepared and will succeed on your finals. Rather than starting from the beginning and looking through all your notes and stressing, everything is already prepared and ready when you are.
If you follow the tips mentioned in the previous chapters, then finals time will be a piece of cake. Here’s the breakdown:
Time management- just because you already have your semester’s notes written, you still have to set aside a reasonable amount of time to review them, and even practice previous finals. Relationships with faculty- if you develop a good relationship with faculty members, you can ask your teacher questions or even show them your review sheets before the final to make sure you have everything covered.
Note-taking- if you write notes throughout the year and stay organized with everything, you'll be prepared and relieved the day before your exams.
Friendships- How do friends come into play? Think about those difficult subjects you’re studying for. Of course you can't be “good at” every subject, but if you make friends throughout the year, friends that you can rely on, you can always turn to them to help you!