Saturday, October 15, 2011

11 Things I Wish That I Had Known At The Beginning of High School

1. Freshman Don't Actually Get Dumped In Trashcans.  Believe it or not, this is just a movie thing.  Maybe it differs from school to school, but generally, none of my friends have reported having been thrown in a trashcan as a freshman.  Sure, we'll talk about it, and even at times someone will crawl into or be put in a trashcan for a movie (I think that happened in French 3), but at that time, you'll know it's happening and it won't be scary at all.

2. High School Passes by Fast.  To throw in a cliché, it feels like I only yesterday I walked through the front doors of South High (my school) and marveled at just how many people were concentrated in this big building with few windows.  Now it's just a part of my day that I hardly notice or care about any more.

3. Sophomore Year Means You're Kind of a Nobody On the High School Totem Pole.  It sounds horrible, but when you think about it, you're not a freshman any more, so you can't get away with not knowing anything (except for the first few days of the new school year), but you're not an upperclassman yet.  So where does that leave you?

4. Complete Your Health and Gym Credits Right Away!  Like, as a freshman, if you can swing it.  Personal experience.  I'm in the process of completing my final quarters of health now, as a senior and it kind of sucks because on top of applying to colleges and getting ready to graduate and travel in six-to-eight months, it's the last thing that I want to worry about, yet I still have to.

5. Visit Colleges/Figure Out/Start Figuring Out What Your After-High-School Plan Is.  I mean, you don't have to know precisely what you want to do or how you want to get there, but a general plan such as, "I want to go to college" or "I want to go into the work force" or "I want to travel for a while" is a good start.  Have that goal and get an idea of what you like and gradually work towards that just in case.  Even if you never end up needing the classes that looked interesting to you, at least you were prepared in case you did actually need them.

6. High School is Boring if you Don't Get Involved.  I've discovered that this year when I joined the GSA.  Now, every Wednesday, I have something to look forward to after school.  It's a good way to meet new people that have similar views and interests as you.  I would have loved to be apart of theater, but for the few days that I was auditioning, I was kept busy for a few hours after school and it was nice to be relatively busy.  I can only imagine what it would be like to actually be in a play-- busy for several weeks, several days a week!  No matter what happens, you won't regret that you at least tried and you'll have fun being apart of whatever group you decide to join.

7. Don't Take Classes Just Because Your Friends Are Taking Them.  Last year, I took precalculus because I didn't want people I knew to flaunt their smarts at me because I wasn't taking precalculus.  I took the class because I knew people that were.  Precalculus sucked for me.  I passed the class, but now I realize how much of a waste it was for me (emphasis on "For Me") because as a future English teacher, I can't foresee ever needing to use any kind of calculus.  If I actually need it for something other than college (and even then, I'm going to try and avoid it as long as possible) I'll be sure to let you know...  In the end, I met awesome people that I hope to stay in touch with after high school, but I now realize that I was in that class because my friends were there, not because I was actually interested in the subject.  It was too much for me and I didn't understand everything like I thought that I should.

8. Know Your Limits and Only Test Them to a Certain Extent.  In school, there's a fine line between a challenge and stress.  I believe that it's good to challenge yourself, but I will advise you to step back and evaluate yourself really quick.  Are you normally a straight-A student who is feeling stressed all the time and is failing Class X?  Perhaps that's your limit, and you're set on attending Class X at some point, maybe it would be best to work up to it.  You're like one of those Glad Force-Flex garbage bags (sponsor?  No...).  You can take something sharp and push the pointy end right into the plastic and it won't rip for a while.  But keep pushing that point object until the plastic is tight and it's going to break.

Oh metaphors!

9. Online School is Your Friend.  To clarify, I don't attend a full-time online school.  I attend online school part-time because I go to regular public school and my schedule it too full to do anything else.  This includes an art class and health/gym.  So guess what I'm doing?  Instead of dropping Wind Ensemble (band) and forfeiting my chance to go to Washington D.C. a week or less after coming home from France, I'm taking care of business online so I don't have to worry about not being able to walk across that stage at the end of May.  So if you're having trouble fitting everything in and online is an option, definitely do it.

10. Save, Save, and Save a Few More Times!  Okay, this isn't something that I've failed to learn throughout high school, but it's just too important to not include.  How many of us have been typing away at our computers writing that super important paper that's due tomorrow or throwing in the final edits to your group's PowerPoint or video project when suddenly, the power goes out!  How many times have you saved this project while you were on a roll cranking out information onto a page or in video format?  Once.  In the beginning, when you were still formulating ideas.  Yeah... just save a lot and also turn in the automatic save.  It won't save everything, but that way if the power does go out or your computer dies unexpectedly, you'll only be set back a little bit instead of having to write the entire paper over again.  Also, if you're not sure if you saved before to close the paper for the night, save it again just in case.

11. Travel With Your Classmates!  This is only something that I've found out as recently as last year.  When I went to Chicago with the music department, I knew very few people (my stand-partner and some people that I shared a class or two with) and I was nervous, but excited.  After coming home from just a weekend in Chicago, I was better friends with a girl named Yi-Ting, who was in the middle of her second year as an exchange student because she loved the school and the people so much that she decided to wait and graduate with the senior class last year.  I formally met a girl named Sarah who is an excellent artist and tenor saxophone player who loves to write like I do.  By traveling with your classmates, you get to know that people that you've been walking next to for your entire high school career and you get to have experiences that you never thought that you would get to have nor knew that you wanted to have.

Thanks for reading!


P.S. I've come up with a list of lists that I could write in order to make up for the lack of book reviews for the time being.  If this is something that you want to see more of, let me know and I'll continue working through my list of lists.  I'm sure they'll end up here eventually, but do you want to see different lists in a row?  I promise it won't be to-do lists or anything, but like, ones of experience or experiences that I want to have.  I think I have 11 in my arsenal right now.  What are your ideas?

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