A Senior’s Advice on How to Survive High School

If you’re reading this, you’re probably either in high school, about to graduate high school, or about to start high school. If any of these descriptions apply, you might be searching for advice on how to survive what is so far the four hardest years of your life. But a lot of the websites and videos that proclaim to carry the best wisdom are pretty vague and conceptual, rather than providing practical advice to the people that need it. Somehow, against all odds, I managed to survive all four years. It took hard work, stress, a few tears, laughs, and everything in between. It wasn’t easy, but hopefully, I can impart some real advice that can benefit anyone reading this on how to survive high school.  

The best piece of advice I probably will ever give is to just do the work. Even if it’s not completely perfect, it’s leagues better than lowering your average because of missing assignments. I struggled with procrastination a lot in high school, and I think the best way to combat it is to just get all the work done as soon as you get home. Maybe eat something beforehand, but getting it all done while you still have school on the mind is a big help. Also, try to keep technology as far away from you as possible. Keep the phone away from your work space. If you focus better while listening to music, then go for it, but make sure you’re not setting yourself up to become distracted (i.e. checking your phone for just a few seconds while the music is playing).  If you have a space where you do homework alone, I find that music is a lot less distracting when it’s played through the phone’s speaker instead of using headphones. Bottom line, get the homework done as soon as you can, so that you don’t have to stay up until midnight doing algebra two homework. Some teachers may give more work than others, so try to plan around for that. If you can, maybe get an easier assignment done during lunch or a free period. 

On the note of schoolwork: if you feel like a certain class is going to be too much for you, try to avoid taking it, or switch out as early as you can. The longer you wait to drop a class, the more difficult it’s going to be when you finally decide to do so. Case in point, in my junior year I took a particularly challenging class, but waited far too long to switch the class with another. Schedule complications that late into the school year made it hard to drop the class, so I had to stay in it. Not that it’s impossible to drop a class that late, but it’s a much smoother process if you do so at the start of the year. Trust your gut; if you think this class will be too much to handle, it probably will be. 

One thing a lot of other advice pieces bring up is joining clubs or extracurricular activities. I did join a few, like Literary Magazine and Philosophy Club, and I do recommend that future students do participate in at least one or two clubs. It’s something to do and it does look good on a resume. Try to find specific clubs that are related to your interests, if you can. Make sure that the clubs you join also don’t clash too much in your schedule/occur at the same time, in order to avoid stress. Sometimes it will get boring, or tedious, so make sure it’s a club you’re passionate about and committed too. A few clubs that highlight your interests is far better than signing up for a bunch of clubs that you never participate in. 

The next piece of advice typically given is to be social, but in all honesty, this is an aspect of high school that I struggled with. One thing I did notice, though, was that over the years, I was able to work with people better in school. So give yourself time, do the best that you can when talking to people. Try to remember that the person you’re talking to is just as insecure and hyper-aware of themselves as you are. Think about it this way: do you remember the embarrassing things your friends do? Do you remember the silly mistakes they make in conversation? If you don’t, then they don’t either. That said, sometimes you’re just not going to get along with people, and that’s okay. Sometimes you’re just not going to click with the people you go to school with. If that’s the case, try interacting with them outside of a school setting if the opportunity arises. I found that it was much easier to talk to people when we weren’t in a stuffy classroom together. There really is no secret code to socializing, so just do the best you can and find at least one person you think will stick by your side. I’m sure at least one person in your grade will accept you, you just have to take that initiative for yourself. 

In case you need more practical tips, though, here is some advice: 

If you don’t know where a class is, don’t be afraid to ask, people won’t judge you as much as you think they will. 

Try to keep everything as organized as possible. Binders and dividers are your friend. Put dates on all your papers and notes too, and keep them in as much chronological order as possible. If anything gets messed up, use the dates as a guide to reorganize. 

Don’t cram study for a test the night before. Try to plan out smaller sections of studying throughout the days before the test. The day before should be more tying up loose ends than learning new things. 

Keep plenty of loose-leaf around. And lots of erasers. 

If your binder is getting heavy, don’t be afraid to take out some stuff you don’t need immediately. But do keep it safe when finals come around. 

High school won’t be easy, no matter how many precautions you take beforehand though. But I don’t say that to scare you. I say it to tell you that your high school years will be tumultuous, they will be good and bad, easy and impossible. Don’t be afraid of either outcome. Either way, it will be over in just a few short years. Make the most of it. But when I say that, I don’t mean do something extravagant every day. Make the most of it, by trusting yourself and being content with what you do day in and day out. 

I hope at least one of these tips was helpful to you, and I wish whoever reads this the best of luck in high school. If I can do it, so can you. Good luck.