4 Things I Wish I Had Known During High School
By Katelyn Chau, Student at Francis Lewis High School, Bayside, NY
The time you spend in high school is often one of the best and most memorable moments in your life. It can be turning point in which you discover your passions, learn lifelong skills, grow as a person, and essentially prepare yourself for life and college, where you begin to pursue your career path! Although I’m extremely happy with who I am today and what I have accomplished in these four years, as I look back, there are so many things I wish I had done differently. I wish someone had told me what I am about to tell you during my time in high school, but hopefully if you follow this advice, you will avoid making the same mistakes that I did!
1. GETTING TO KNOW MY TEACHERS
Up until my junior year, I did not attempt to converse with my teachers and show them what kind of person I was outside of just my test scores. It’s important that your teachers know your personal qualities and interests, because that is what will allow teachers to differentiate you from other students. Frequently, participating in class or speaking to your teachers after class will allow them to get to know you! This is especially important should you choose to ask a specific teacher to write a letter of recommendation for you when you apply to colleges. A less generic letter will also allow admission officers to view what kind of skills you have that will allow you to contribute to the college and beyond.
2. STEPPING OUTSIDE OF MY COMFORT ZONE AT SCHOOL
One of my biggest regret is not joining any clubs my freshman year simply because my friends were not in them. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I finally had the courage to walk into the Photography Club by myself, and I loved it! Had I not walked in, I never would have discovered my passion for writing and photography, which is now one of my favorite hobbies. I was not only able to develop my writing skills, but also grow as a person in which I have become less shy due to my increasing familiarity in interviewing and conversing with others.
3. EXPLORING MY INTERESTS THROUGH CLUBS
It is extremely important to step outside of your comfort zone at school and join clubs, student organizations and teams to explore your interests. There are a plethora of advantages to joining clubs and student organizations: learning to manage your time and priorities, meeting people who have similar interests and aspirations, gaining essential life skills, and possibly gaining an idea of what career path you intend to pursue in the future. Joining a club early during high school will allow for the possibility for you to obtain a leadership role as president, vice president, etc. down the road when you are a junior or senior. Even if you don’t know anybody in a club that you are interested in joining and are scared of feeling like the odd one out, don’t be!
4. INVESTING IN A PLANNER
No matter what grade you are in, planners can be one of your best friends, because they are helpful for writing down what homework you have that day and what upcoming quizzes, tests, papers and projects you have for a given class. This way, you will be sure to remember to do all of your homework, projects and study for your quizzes and tests in time! Planners are also helpful for reminding you of all the important events coming up for your college application process, such as standardized tests, deadlines for scholarship applications, and college applications! Being organized is essential with being successful with time management so that you can ensure that you get everything done on time. If you don’t like using a paper planner, you can also use virtual calendars like Google Calendars, TeamUp or have your Money Mentor remind you of important college application, financial aid, and scholarship deadlines!