· guide · 7 min read

A Guide to High School

A short guide covering class selection and effective study habits to standardized testing and extracurricular activities.

A short guide covering class selection and effective study habits to standardized testing and extracurricular activities.

In this blog post, we’ll cover essential tips for high school success, covering everything from class selection and effective study habits to standardized testing and extracurricular activities.

Choosing Classes Wisely

The first step in a successful high school journey is selecting the right classes. While it may be tempting to load up on advanced courses or follow a friend’s schedule, it’s crucial to tailor your classes to your abilities, interests, and future goals. Here are some tips to help you make informed decisions:

  • Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses: Consider your academic strengths and weaknesses when choosing classes. Challenge yourself, but don’t overwhelm yourself with courses that may be too advanced.
  • Explore Your Interests: High school is an excellent time to discover your passions. Take a variety of classes to explore different subjects, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
  • Consider Long-Term Goals: If you have a specific career or college in mind, research the prerequisites and recommendations for admission. Ensure your course selection aligns with these requirements.
  • Seek Guidance: Consult with teachers, counselors, and mentors who can provide valuable insights into the course offerings and help you make informed decisions.
  • Balance Your Schedule: Maintain a balance between challenging courses and those that allow you to explore your interests. This balance ensures that you’re engaged in your education without feeling overwhelmed.

Mastering the Art of Studying

Effective studying is a skill that can significantly impact academic success. What works for one person may not work for another, so it’s essential to discover a study routine that suits your learning style. Here are some general tips to help you find and stick with an effective study routine:

  • Identify Your Learning Style: Some students like memorizing, while others may prefer understanding. Knowing your learning style can guide you in choosing study methods that are most effective for you. Tip: studies show that there is no such thing as a visual learner or kinesthetic learner!
  • Create a Study Schedule: Establish a consistent study schedule that includes dedicated time for each subject. Consistency helps build good habits and ensures that you allocate enough time to each area of study.
  • Break Down Larger Tasks: Rather than tackling a large task all at once, break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. This approach makes studying more approachable and allows for better retention of information.
  • Utilize Active Learning Techniques: Engage with the material actively by using techniques such as summarizing information in your own words, teaching concepts to someone else, or creating flashcards.
  • Minimize Distractions: Find a quiet and comfortable study environment free from distractions. Turn off your phone or use apps that limit social media access during study sessions.
  • Review and Revise Regularly: Periodically review and revise your notes to reinforce learning and identify areas that may need additional attention.

The SAT or ACT Dilemma

Standardized testing is often a source of stress for high school students. The decision to take the SAT or ACT—or both (not recommended)—requires careful consideration. Here’s a guide to help you navigate this aspect of the high school experience:

  • Understand Your College Requirements: Research the admission requirements of the colleges you’re interested in. Some institutions have shifted to test-optional policies, while others still consider standardized test scores a crucial component of the application.
  • Take Practice Tests: Before deciding to take or skip standardized tests, try taking practice exams for both the SAT and ACT. This will give you an idea of your strengths and weaknesses and help you make an informed decision.
  • Consider Your Strengths: If standardized tests are not your strong suit and your prospective colleges offer a test-optional policy, seriously consider whether submitting scores will enhance your application or potentially detract from it.

Extracurriculars

Extracurricular activities are a crucial component of a well-rounded high school experience, but the emphasis should be on genuine interest and personal growth rather than a checkbox for college applications. Here’s how to approach extracurriculars with purpose:

  • Pursue Passion Projects: Engage in activities that genuinely interest you. Take time to reflect on your interests, strengths, and values. What activities bring you joy and fulfillment? What impact do you hope to make through your extracurricular pursuits?
  • Quality Over Quantity: Instead of trying to pad your resume with numerous activities, focus on a select few that you are truly passionate about. Depth of involvement and leadership roles can have a more significant impact than sheer quantity.
  • Develop Transferable Skills: Look for activities that allow you to develop skills applicable to various aspects of your life, such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and time management.
  • Be Consistent: Consistency and commitment are key to making a lasting impact through extracurricular activities. Colleges value long-term dedication and the positive influence you’ve had on a group or cause.
  • Balance Your Schedule: While extracurriculars are essential, ensure they don’t take precedence over your academic responsibilities. Strike a balance that allows you to excel in both areas.
  • Seek Mentorship: Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from teachers, mentors, and professionals in fields of interest. Their insights, advice, and support can help you navigate challenges, discover new opportunities, and make informed decisions.
  • Embrace Failure and Growth: View setbacks and challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. Embrace failure as a natural part of the journey and use it as fuel to persevere, adapt, and evolve.

Above all, stay true to yourself. Let your passions, values, and aspirations guide your choices, and don’t succumb to societal pressures or external expectations.

What Makes a Good Extracurricular Activity?

Let’s explore what makes an extracurricular truly valuable:

  • Demonstrated Passion: Colleges value genuine passion and dedication. Whether it’s music, sports, community service, or any other pursuit, your enthusiasm will shine through in your application.
  • Leadership and Initiative: Taking on leadership roles within an extracurricular demonstrates initiative and the ability to make a positive impact. Seek opportunities to contribute your ideas and take on responsibilities.
  • Community Involvement: Activities that involve giving back to the community showcase your commitment to making a difference. Whether it’s volunteering or organizing events, community involvement demonstrates empathy and social responsibility.
  • Personal Growth: Engage in activities that challenge you and contribute to your personal growth. Whether it’s overcoming public speaking anxiety or learning a new skill, these experiences can be transformative.
  • Consistency and Longevity: Sustained involvement in an activity over an extended period demonstrates commitment and reliability. Colleges appreciate students who stick with their pursuits and contribute consistently.

Exploring Extracurriculars

Here are some common categories to explore:

  • Clubs: From academic clubs like robotics and debate to cultural clubs, student government, and special interest groups, clubs provide a platform for collaboration, learning, and community engagement.
  • Competitions: Whether it’s STEM competitions, Model UN, hackathons, or literary contests, competitions offer a chance to showcase your skills, creativity, and teamwork on a competitive stage.
  • Work/Internships: Internships, part-time jobs, and volunteering experiences offer real-world exposure, professional development, and insights into potential career paths.
  • Community Service: Engage in meaningful service projects and volunteer initiatives that address local needs, promote social justice, and instill a sense of civic responsibility.
  • Research: Dive into scientific research, humanities inquiries, or social science investigations under the mentorship of professors, professionals, or research institutions.
  • Passion Projects: Whether it’s launching a podcast, designing an app, or writing a novel, passion projects allow you to explore your creative interests and pursue self-directed learning outside the classroom.
  • Sports and Athletics: Whether you’re a varsity athlete, a recreational enthusiast, or a sports team manager, participation in athletics fosters teamwork, discipline, and physical well-being.
  • Arts and Hobbies: Explore your artistic talents through music, theater, visual arts, dance, photography, or any other creative pursuit that speaks to your soul.

What Now?

Navigating high school is not just about reaching the destination; it’s about savoring the journey, embracing growth opportunities, and staying true to yourself along the way. So, as you embark on your high school adventure, remember this: dare to dream, dare to explore, and dare to make your mark on the world.

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