Five Pieces for Advice for High School Students
by: Cheemin Thao
In high school, there is a lot to do. I went to two high schools that had completely opposite environments of one another. My first school was a small, all-male strict military academy, while the school I transferred to and graduated from was your typical public school with many students roaming down the hallways and couples holding hands. Despite the total difference, there are five pieces of advice I’d give that would still apply to any current student in any high school.
Utilize your accesses, sources, and opportunities.
I was an introvert in high school, which meant I did not have many friends. I didn’t care about being popular because I stayed true to myself, but it is important in high school to build a lot of friendships and relationships with people. If you’re struggling in a class, you can ask your teacher for tutoring. Do not wait or try to figure things out by yourself. Have a favorite teacher. Build a relationship with your counselor. Always find opportunities around the school such as joining a club, volunteer or community service hours, get access to the gym, etc., because it is all there. Try everything the high school offers. Develop leadership; run for president of your senior class. Take electives that are interesting like band, choir, woodworking, or ROTC. Learn from those electives even though you might not use them every day for the rest of your life.
Participate in a sport or activity and commit to it.
Let it be the highlight of your high school years. Even if you are struggling, be disciplined and hope for the best. Set yourself a goal to attain. For example, if you’re not talented in football but want to make the varsity team while still in high school, set a goal, improve, and tell yourself you’ll work your way and make it up there. Tell yourself at least by senior year, you’ll be on the varsity team. If you’re not into sports, join a club. Get involved with the Japanese club, the Christian club, or National Honor Society.
Your GPA and test scores are not everything.
My whole high school life, my grades meant everything to me. My lowest GPA for a quarter was my first quarter in which I had a 3.44. I wanted my grades to be good so that I could make it into a good college. It really paid off. It made up for my ACT score and it allowed me to finish within the top twenty percent of my class! But, thinking back, instead of focusing all on my grades, I wished I could have worked on developing my skills outside of academics. Grades are only qualifications for you to get into a university. It will not give you qualifications in a real work environment. You need real life skills as well. With these skills balanced with your GPA and ACT scores, that will land you exactly where you want and need to be.
Find experience as soon as possible.
Utilizing the first piece of advice is the step of getting you experience. That experience will enhance keys skills in the fourth piece advice and in the long run into your future career. Join a program in the summer that will help teach you skills in public speaking, technical skills in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, or help land you an internship at an early stage of high school. As a high school student, it is important to gather and learn everything as much as possible so you can be set and stable going into college or a career. When finding a summer job, students tend to just find work at a normal retail store, mall, or restaurant because they only look at the value of the money. Finding experience means searching for internships or jobs that teach you professional and life skills that will land you the high earning pay you’ll want and need. Students must realize that it is not money they need to provide for themselves or for their family–it’s the experience that give them skills to earn a professional career that will be able to provide for those they love. It is thinking long term and not short term. Be able to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.
Be yourself. Have fun and enjoy it while it lasts.
High school is about developing yourself and finding who you are. But it is also about doing what you love to do. Take risks on talking to that crush of yours. If you fail, keep trying until you succeed. You might see high school movies and wished your high school life was like it too. Turn it into a reality. Don’t just envision it. You don’t want to reflect on your life and regret things you wished you could have done in high school. If you’re an extrovert, this won’t be a problem. But if you are an introvert, don’t have too many friends, or you’re a one-man army, you should still go to the homecoming or winter dances. Build very strong relationships with those around you because the classmates and teachers you see every day will not be there every day after you receive your diploma. Go to your senior prom even if it may not be interesting because that is what high school is known for. When you’re there, dress better than anyone else because you want to stand out. Try not to go home immediately after school. Explore and hang out with people you’re comfortable with. Do all this but stay true to yourself. If you like being the popular kid, be the popular kid. If not, then don’t.
Never try to become someone you are not. You are unique and special in your own way. Remember that everyone is different. You make the difference for being different. Live high school to the best you can because it is only four years that you can’t go back to.
About the Author:
Cheemin Thao is a current sophomore at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Cheemin spent the summer of 2019 as an intern with Generation Next.