Entering High school can be a daunting time for many young teens. This is when you get to explore, be curious and meet new people. Let me be your older sister for 5 minutes and tell you Four things I wish I had known before entering High School:
1. Classes! So much to choose from!
When you get to high school, you will have to choose your classes. There are so many options and you only have limited times and slots available for 7-8 classes for an entire year. For your sake, you want to make sure you enjoy them. When it comes the time you select your classes, you want to make sure that you meet all your school’s requirements. Typically, high schools in the US require you to take certain amounts of English courses, Math courses, science courses, and social studies courses. For example, my high school required me to take 3 years of math, 4 years of English, 2 years of language, and 3 years of science. This meant that every year I got to choose what type of science, math, language, and English to take. I chose the Advanced Placement classes for the subjects I felt confident in and made sure to balance out my schedule with regular classes. However, even after you select all the required classes, you will have some freedom once you fulfill all the high school requirements. These slots you can fill up with classes that interest you, so this means if you are interested in studying economics in college, you can take an economics class, and this will help demonstrate and build your interest in a topic. Other Advanced classes don’t meet any requirements for your school but can help explore your interests.
Learn more Bonus: During your last couple years of high school, look into taking college courses that can help you obtain college credit and help you save money in the long run, and help you get prepared for college. Ask your guidance counselor for opportunities to take college courses because it will also boost you when applying to college.
2. New people! New Faces!
In high school, you are more independent, meaning every one of your friends has their own schedule. You all may have different lunch periods and may have the same classes, but all are scheduled at different times. You will learn to become close to some people from each class. Don’t expect to be friends with everyone, and if you are, that’s great, but if you aren’t, that’s also cool. It is very helpful to befriend at least 2-3 people from each class just in case you ever need help with a homework assignment or if you ever miss a class because of an emergency; you know you can rely on your friends to catch you up on the assignments and class notes.
It may also be very intimidating to make new friends and meet new people, put yourself out there and introduce yourself, it is daunting for everyone, but sometimes you may feel you are the odd one out however it is normal you will learn to get closer to them. Also, expect to be put in classes with juniors and seniors. In my sophomore year of high school, I had a class where I was the only sophomore among juniors and seniors. This was a scary experience because everyone already knew some people in the class while I didn’t know anyone. However, my only advantage was that no one knew I was a sophomore, so I tried to hide it as much as possible until about the last month of school. To all the juniors and seniors, I was just another face they didn’t know yet, but they all just assumed I was a junior or senior. During the last month of school, I knew that it wouldn’t have mattered if I was a sophomore.
3. Stay Organized
High school gives you a large load of work. More than you are probably used to. They give a lot of homework, a lot of assignments, readings, tests, and essays. You want to ensure you are staying organized; in this case, agendas are your best friend! Writing in your agenda helps you stay organized by reminding you of upcoming deadlines and homework assignments for the night and helps you keep track of what test you should prioritize studying for. Studies show that students who use agendas are more likely to accomplish their goals. Now in the tech era, you don’t need a physical planner there are plenty of E-planners you can try for free!
There are so many clubs to choose from in school and out of school! Don’t feel limited to being in clubs that are school lead there are so many clubs within your community you may not even be aware of! Teen innovators is a great after-school club platform! Some other clubs include museum lead clubs, side projects, non-profit organizations, and community projects. This is worth looking into if you’d like to participate in more clubs and feel like school clubs aren’t for you. I know for my sophomore year and junior year of high school, I participated in the field museum club and which was hosted by the field museum of Chicago we learned a lot about the inner workings of a museum.
Learn more bonus: When you are applying to colleges, especially the highly competitive ones, they tend to look at clubs and activities you participated in, and that is something college admissions look at, so Teen innovators is a great way to get involved in clubs after school if you don’t feel comfortable in school clubs.
Stephany is a peer mentor at Teen Innovators and leads the High School Prep After-School Club.