Advice from a Recent Graduate
Since I started tutoring, I have realized how much my students have left to learn before they're ready for graduation. It also made me realize how much I've grown since my freshman year. Hopefully this list will allow you to skip learning these things the hard way and eventually make your college experience that much easier.
You may tell yourself that it isn't much money anyways or that you just want to live up the high school experience but in reality, your college self will thank you for those few extra bucks. Of course you can enjoy spending a bit while you can but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be putting a bit aside, too. You really never know what the future will hold and even if you think you have a plan, things are bound to change. If you are financially able to go with those changes, you will be in a much better position to chase your passions.
College Credit in High School (PSEO)
Taking college classes in high school was easily one of the best things I did. From learning about the rigor of college to getting those credits for free, there are so many reasons to take college classes while still in high school. I'll make a post about the specifics later but I want to clarify that you don't need to let concerns about your social life automatically deter you. You can not only take these kinds of classes right at your high school, in most cases, but it also isn't difficult to get updates on activities from friends in order to stay active. Another option is going out to the college with another like-minded friend and bring you guys closer than ever. Whatever may be holding you back, make the experience your own but don’t dismiss the opportunity before looking a bit deeper.
Practice Time Management
Get a planner and actually use it. I love the passion planner more than anything and have used it since it first came out a couple years ago. Getting used to schedules and to-do lists will make college a lot easier because they already seem natural when you do head off to Uni. Also, perfecting time management will let you kick up that GPA, join however many clubs your heart desires, and even get a job so you can work on that whole saving thing. High school and beyond tends to be a balancing act of all the things you love and the ability to organize and manage you-time will make that so much easier.
Avoid Coffee When Possible
A bit of advice I got from my dad was to avoid caffeine in high school, so when you actually need it in college it still has its full effect. Of course there will always be those late night study sessions where there just no getting out of a bit of caffeine but like any other drug, eventually you get used to the high. You get used to a cup a day in high school and eventually you'll just keep adding onto that until by the end of college you drink more coffee than water. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but the idea holds the same and you'll appreciate the epic effects of one cup come finals time.
Ask your parents for advice
Another thing my dad helped me with was 90% of the college decisions I made. Fact is, parents have loads of wisdom and know you better than almost anyone so listen to what they have to say. That doesn't mean you always have to do exactly what they saw but for many things, they know what they're talking about. This applies for other mentors you may come across, too. Counselors, pastors, bosses, and coaches are all people you may look up to and they each have decades of experiences up their sleeve and you'd be remiss to ignore that.
Networking doesn't have to be the awkward, conversed conversations you may associate it with. Networking is simply putting good people you know in touch with motivated people you meet and eventually, people will do the same for you. As a high schooler, it may be most relevant to you to start building relationships with people that you can ask for letters of recommendation from in a few years. Many of these require you to have known the person for a year or two so this is something you want to be thinking about in your sophomore year already.
This doesn't necessarily mean football games and the likes but do what you can to be involved. School is great but the parts you'll really remember are what you did after 3 o'clock. Coming from someone who literally went to one football game her senior year (the first forty-five minutes of homecoming), there are an unbelievable amount of ways to be involved. Like art? Join a club. Musically talented? Find which choir or band or orchestra is right for you.
Have a support group
Honestly, I didn't find my real group until senior year but when I did it was magnificent. Having a crew that you can let loose with on the weekend but also will be there with you throughout the week to be your own personal rolemodels is probably the best thing you could come across in high school. I know this isn't always possible but be on the look out. Having that group that is going to push you to excel is valuable beyond compare.
Find your passions
Your priorities and desires will change (of course) as you get older but one thing you can really do in high school that you don't always have time for later in life is explore. College has all this pressure to pick a major but in high school, you just get to roll with anything so try out those art classes and even if you don’t think you can sing, run in track even if you think you'll be the slowest on the team. This goal of going out of your comfort zone is something you should strive for all your life but high school offers so many opportunities for it so don't wait.
High school can be filled with tough times from crazy hormones to college pressures to loads of homework. That said, there's things you can do to make the experience less stressful as well as to put you one step ahead.