A Letter To All High School Seniors

An Honest Letter To All High School Seniors

My biggest piece of advice is to hold on to high school while you still can.

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Only a year ago, I was in the exact same position you're currently in. I was a high school senior yearning to leave my hometown and gain the freedom that college would provide me.

November and December were strange months because everyone in my grade was at a different point in their application process and stressed that they needed to receive outstanding grades the first semester in order to impress their top college. Many students decided to tackle extra AP classes in order to look more appealing to colleges but would fall behind in those classes because of the time they dedicated to their applications. Some people had already applied early decision or early action, some waited to perfect their application and apply regular decision, and some people still hadn't even considered where they wanted to attend college.

The important thing to remember is that no matter what stage you are at in the application process, it's okay. It's called a process because it takes time. Deciding where you want to spend four grueling years should not be a choice made too quickly, especially since it could come with a huge financial burden. Although you shouldn't rush the procedure, make sure not to fall behind.

Have your common application done early to have an appropriate time for editing, look into which schools have additional application requirements, and don't stop improving your essay until you're completely satisfied. Waiting until the night before you plan to submit the applications is foolish because the quality will not be near as strong as it could be.

Yes, it's important to have a suitable amount of higher level classes and good grades, but that's not the top priority of senior year. If sacrificing taking an AP class or two means you'll have the time to attend your last homecoming or pep rally, it's completely worth it. Senior year could have a large negative effect on one's mental health, so it's equally as important to dedicate time for socializing as it is to do your school work. Not to mention, you'll regret not joining your friends for these occasions as they help celebrate your high school years.

Going to high school sports games, the school musical, or prom isn't only for Instagram pictures. One day they'll be some of the fondest memories you'll possess. My school hosted a battle of the classes every year where all of the grades fought in various games until one came out superior. Since I was buried in work, I had planned on not participating senior year, but last minute I changed my mind. Attending and winning my last battle of the classes will continue to be one of the most joyous moments I've experienced.

My biggest piece of advice to high school seniors is to hold on to every moment you spend there. I can admit that along with the majority of my peers, I wished for graduation day to come faster so that I could escape high school. High school felt too challenging, I got tired of seeing the same people every day, and I wanted to be able to do what I wanted with no restrictions.

As a freshman in college, it's hard to believe I ever wanted any of that. Even the easiest of college courses are 10 times more difficult than high school classes. I miss waving at dozens of people as I walked down the halls and I constantly wish for my mommy to tell me what the right thing to do is.

On the last day of high school, it hit me really hard that I didn't appreciate what I had when I had it. I must've cried at least 10 times that day as I looked around my school and realized it wouldn't be mine anymore. Being a student at that particular high school was a part of my identity for four long years, which suddenly don't seem so long anymore. Getting myself to exit the school that day knowing that the only time I would return would be as a visitor, not a student, broke my heart.

I know it's hard to imagine now, but your high school years could very well be one of the highlights of your life. I strongly advise you to allow the hours you spend there to last because, after so much time, it truly becomes your second home. Leaving high school and having to enter a completely different journey that is college taught me that you don't truly appreciate what you have until it's gone.

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31 Tips That Helped Me During Freshman Year Of High School

It can seem like an impossible task to start high school, but with a bit of advice, it's a lot of fun.
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Starting freshman year of high school can seem like a tough situation to be in, but it was actually so easy to do. High school is a lot of fun if you know what to do, which includes the following pieces of advice.

1. Know where your classes are located without needing a schedule.

The big switch from middle to high school was easier for me than moving from elementary to middle school, and one of the biggest reasons why is because I knew that memorizing the locations of my classes beforehand was extremely important. One of the biggest things that bugged me about starting high school was wondering whether or not I would successfully be able to locate each of my classrooms in the five minute breaks given in between classes. Prepare for that properly by looking at a map of your school and then figuring out the best routes to each class from the previous one.

2. Don't buy too many school supplies.

Yes, having everything with you seems great and all, but it's such a hassle to dig through infinite pens and glue sticks to find your pair of scissors. Don't be the one kid who's held up last because he or she can't find his or her supplies at the bottom of the pencil pouch. Just ask your teachers what you should have for each class, and bring that! You won't have to worry about not having everything for the class because you already asked your teacher.

3. Try to get enough sleep.

It sounds like fun to be able to sleep so late at night without getting in trouble, but when you have to wake up early in the morning to get to school, it's not fun at all. You want to get a solid eight hours of sleep to stay healthy, and many nights, looking at the hours pass by on the clock is discouraging. I still remember telling myself many nights, "There goes my chance at sleeping early tonight." Okay, it sounds tough to sleep early most nights, but if you just try and get your work done as soon as possible, it's a possibility you can head to bed by 10!

4. One test grade does not determine your whole future.

Don't worry about it so much. The occasional bad grade during a stressful time of the year is perfectly normal. Maybe you don't do so well at the start of the school year as you're trying to get into the gear of being in high school. That's fine! As long as you know that you're putting in the effort and trying your best to do well in school, you will do well!

5. Manage your time wisely, especially with extracurricular activities.

Schoolwork increases throughout the year, so make sure that when you designate time for each part of your life, so you don't spend too much time with extracurricular activities that you're swamped with schoolwork later on. It's unwanted stress that can be easily prevented if you know how much is too much work for you.

6. Figure out a plan for your high school career.

By this, I mean devise a flexible outline of what class schedule you want to have each year of high school. If possible, you can even take classes over the summer! By having a small picture of what you want your future to look like while you're still in school, you have a much easier time deciding what classes you prioritize above others. And when you're done with the schedule, you get to see where you think you're headed up to senior year.

7. Don't do too many extracurricular activities just to look good for colleges.

It's not worth it! You'd be putting way too much stress on yourself just to look good, and striving so hard for a good image can make you do poorly in school. Don't do that to yourself, please. Participate enough to be noticed, but don't do so much where you think that you'd have to be a superhero to accomplish all of your work by your deadlines. You're just starting high school, and that amount of work needs to be cut down.

8. Don't be someone who runs in the hallways.

They're just as annoying as slow walkers. Everyone is just trying to get to their classes, and those who run are just holding everyone else behind. Because of how crowded it is in the hallways, people can get hurt, too. Don't be one of those people who gets someone hurt just because you feel like running. The school is not big enough to make you unbelievably late to your classes, so don't act like it.

9. Know what you believe in, and prioritize that above all else.

High school will make you question some of your smallest values, and whether or not you choose to stick to your beliefs is up to you. But in a place where you will be extremely independent, you have to stand up for yourself. Don't make decisions that don't accurately reflect who you are in terms of morals just because you want to appeal to other people. Be smart! You have your morals and priorities for a reason, so now is the time to enforce them on yourself.

10. Take classes over the summer.

This is obviously optional if you don't feel like it, but I highly recommend it. As you go through high school, you're going to have to start thinking about what career pathway you want to get into. And because there are so many course options for career pathways, taking core classes over the summer that you're not interested in frees up your schedule to do what you really want to do during the year, That way, you may have a lot of work, but it's for a class that you want to take.

11. Being independent is a tough task that sometimes isn't fun.

Teachers and other students are not going to help you all the time. You're getting older, so you're expected to act like it. The freedom of having control over your own life is fun and thrilling, but with that same freedom, you can't rely on others all the time. That especially affects you when you make poor decisions about your school career and do your assignments late or incorrectly. That's on you, so make sure that you know that being an independent person means that you take full responsibility for your actions.

12. Don't compare yourself to others.

This is something basic that you have to understand. There are the select people that always want to compare scores with you, and it gets annoying. There are two reasons why you shouldn't be one of these people.

1. They're annoying and ask you for your score even if it's a bit intrusive.

2. Why compare yourself to others when it doesn't determine anything about you?

You could be putting yourself down for no reason. Don't compare your score to others' just because you want to measure yourself against them. That doesn't say anything about how you can improve yourself.

13. Make sure you know someone in your classes to ask questions.

You'll definitely have at least one question in each of your classes throughout the year, so knowing at least one person in each class and being able to contact them prevents you from messing up on an assignment.

14. Not everyone is going to be nice to you, and that is perfectly okay.

You won't be friends with everyone, which is completely normal. Just stay in your lane and keep doing what you're doing in school. Focus on yourself and not about what others think about you.

15. Make sure your backpack isn't filled with unnecessary objects.

This is to make sure that your backpack isn't super heavy. Don't leave stray papers or other things sitting at the bottom of your bag because they build up and either make you bag heavy or make it tough to stick other books or notebooks in there. You can easily avoid this by just maintaining organizational habits that prevent you from throwing papers anywhere you want if they don't belong somewhere in your bag. Save yourself the trouble of cleaning your bag out by just staying organized.

16. When teachers give you advice for an assignment, take it.

They are the ones who made the assignment, and they've been high schoolers before. They know exactly what is best for you when it comes to finishing an assignment they created. Listen to them because convincing yourself that only you know what's best for you is not how you should use your newly-gained freedom from adults. You're still young and need some guidance, so take whatever you can from them while they can help.

17. Have a go-to music playlist for late-night study sessions.

Obviously this part is up to you, but having a playlist full of songs that you like will make studying a bit more fun for you. Yes, classical music is proven to help you while studying, but you need to at least be comfortable with the music that you're listening to; if you don't like classical music, you should have the freedom to listen to what you want. Studying will go by a lot faster if you do this, and when you're done, you'll feel like the study session was much easier than it usually is.

18. The night before a test will be stressful, but you will get through it.

It's a big unit test, and you feel like you don't know half of the material you're studying. You've reviewed this in class, so you're going to be fine. Just review the material to the best of your ability, and when you've answered all of your questions, get as much rest as possible. It's just one test, and you will pass it if you at least study for it.

19. Don't cram for an exam the night before.

Going off the last one, you won't be as stressed the night before if you've studied for the test for a few days. It always feels like a test covers a lot of content, and you'll probably do better on the test if you don't cram everything in your head just one night before taking the test. Get yourself in the habit of being prepared a few days before so the night before is a simple review of the content before you head to bed.

20. Stay organized, even if you're not the best at it.

Being organized was important in middle school because it was much different than elementary, but since high school is a bit tougher, you need to be more organized. Always have a planner or calendar of some sort with you that tells you due dates and deadlines for assignments. That planner will become your life saver. You school might provide you a planner, but you can always buy one for yourself. Another good way to stay organized is if you get a locker in case you have a lot of books.

21. There are lots of deadlines, and you can feel overwhelmed at times.

It's a part of being in high school, so if you feel like you can't handle the numerous deadlines, you can. You have teachers, peers and family members that are there to help you if you need anything. Being in high school will be stressful at times, but if you are a good student and stay on top of your work, the days leading up to a deadline will be stress-free. Stay organized and prepared, and you will be rewarded.

22. Balance schoolwork with the rest of your life.

You have friends and family that you want to spend time with, so make sure that when you take your classes and do your work that you put off some extra time to spend with the people you enjoy. These people will help you throughout your years, so make sure that you give enough time to both working and having fun. After so much stress, you need some time to relax.

23. You will make mistakes that could have been prevented.

There's no doubt that freshman year won't be perfect. If you make a mistake by forgetting to do your homework or being late to class because you chose not to run in the hallway, it's OK! Let it go, and learn from it. Maybe you were doing too much the night before, so you didn't do all of your homework. Maybe you were talking to a friend instead of getting to class, so you were late. Learn from these experiences if they happen because they are ways to teach you to grow up and become responsible. It's all part of the high school experience.

24. Don't change who you are to impress others, even if it benefits you somehow.

It's a universal concept that goes for any situation, but just don't change yourself at all. You might want to attract the attention of a few people who you want to be friends with, but do it by being yourself. Most people aren't going to be mean to you for no reason, so even saying "hi" to someone new is nothing to worry about. Just don't try to be a different person for approval.

25. Get to know who your counselor is.

This person will help you with many of the concerns you may have. You can always ask him or her for help because they are there to help you. If you can't get help from a teacher or parent about a problem, going to your counselor is a good idea because they are meant to help high schoolers. Getting to know them allows them to become familiar with you and know who you are, too.

26. Keep your old friends close, but make a lot of new friends.

High school is much bigger than middle school, so a lot more people will be joining from other schools. Getting to know a bunch of people and making friends makes high school interesting instead of sticking with the same friend group. Lots of people end high school in a much different friend group than the one that they start high school with. Be social.

27. Utilize your Orientation Day to the best of your ability.

Orientation Day should be happening at your school, and it's a day that takes place less than a week before school starts. That's when you get a physical copy of your schedule and get to meet your teachers. Make the most of the time that you're at school. Ask your teachers what you need, locate your classes, get a locker if you want one, and get a feel for how your school looks. This is the big day to prepare for your new freshman year. If you don't know if you can go to Orientation Day, I really recommend doing your best to go.

28. Don't be afraid to ask for help from anyone.

It can be embarrassing to ask for help when so much pressure is placed on you for being independent, but remember that you are still just a freshman. You're really young and still don't know how the whole school works, so asking for help is completely acceptable and normal. Ask teachers where a class is if you can't find it, and ask friends or peers for help if you don't understand something. You're growing up, so asking for help is okay!

29. Summer work cannot put off until the last minute. Get it done.

Trust me, you may have a good time forgetting about your summer assignment, but when it comes time to actually do the work, you won't be too happy having to spend the last few days of your vacation doing it. Get the work done as quickly as possible so you can actually enjoy the rest of your summer break. Also, if you do the work at the end of summer, it will probably looked rushed. If you do it at the beginning of summer, you can do it quickly but still know that you have a lot of time to finish it.

30. Don't let one bad day ruin your week. You're doing great.

And bad days will come, even if you're a generally happy person. Sometimes a bad grade or a small fight with a friend can ruin your day, but remember that you're still growing up and that this is all a part of the learning experience. Take this as a lesson for the future, and don't let that bad day ruin the rest of your week.

31. Don't slack off just because it's freshman year.

Please, save yourself the pain of fixing your GPA years after now because you chose to say that it's only freshman year as an excuse to not do your work. It sounds wrong to just think that! Work hard during freshman year because that's the easiest that high school will be! It only gets tougher after that, and freshman year is your transition year. Use it to be one step ahead and have high grades!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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How High School Destroyed My Self Esteem

Where did the confidence go?

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Not too long ago my parents recovered a collection of home videos from my childhood, and recently, myself and the rest of my family have been taking the time to watch them. It has been quite an experience watching footage of a baby me crawling across the carpet or taking my first steps, but the videos of myself that I find I am most interested in watching are the videos of me when I was a little older, around elementary school age.

As is demonstrated in the multitude of videos featuring me dancing around my kitchen and finding ridiculous ways to get the attention of the camera, I was an outgoing, funny, and lively young girl. I didn't shy away from being the center of attention and was something of a comedian when the camera was turned my way. However, the reason I found these videos so interesting to watch was not just because I found my younger self hilarious. Instead, I was fascinated by the smaller me's enormous personality, because it is such a deviation from the way I am now. This led me to wonder, where did that girl go?

High school is a difficult time for all who experience it. Students face pressure to do well in their classes and meet expectations so that they can get into a good college, which often results in massive amounts of stress and anxiety. However, there are other, social, factors that make high school feel like a battlefield, factors that I, personally, had a difficult time overcoming and still affect me to this day.

When I look back on my four years of high school I realize that I placed far too much importance on popularity and fitting in. I had a set group of friends throughout high school and our group could be considered decently popular, which, at the time, quelled my anxieties about being unliked or alone. Because of these anxieties, I was desperate to keep my friends, even it meant spending time with people I didn't like or didn't make me feel good about myself, and had to teach myself lessons like hiding my true self in order to fit in. This resulted in much unhappiness because many of the friends that I had chosen to be with weren't great at being friends. They were mean, selfish, and often tore me down instead of showing me the support an insecure teenager needed from her friends.

As a result of having mediocre friends, it was often hard to feel like I had a support system when it came to dealing with the problems every teenager faces. Insecurities and lack of understanding about my own body led to weight, which didn't help boost my confidence either. To add to this, my friends, who I believed to be skinnier and prettier than me would often express dislike for the way they looked, which led me to believe that I had no reason to be confident in myself.

This culture of insulting oneself also increased my insecurity, as it left me feeling like I wasn't permitted to have confidence in myself, and instead had to tear myself down whenever I got the chance. Reflecting these negative feelings about myself instead of promoting body positivity warped my mind and made me feel unable to like the skin I was living in. There was no one to tell me that I was allowed to let myself feel good, to look in the mirror and like the girl that looked back at me. Instead, I felt pressure to conform.

So, to answer the previously posed question of where the little girl in the home videos went, here's the answer:

She didn't disappear. She was simply torn down by too many people, especially herself.

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