Determine how you want to craft your high school experience by taking various classes and participating in different extracurriculars. Some may want to attend an Ivy League school, while others may want to attend their parent’s alma mater. For example, if you want to attend college on an athletic scholarship, begin thinking as early as freshman year about how to accomplish that goal. It could mean playing on the varsity athletic team for all four years or participating in both school and traveling state teams. Everyone’s path is different, but be sure to plan out the steps early so that you can reach your goals by the end of your high school experience.
Expand your academic and extracurricular activities to be the best that you can be. Whether that means taking more than one math course during the school year or adding Advance Placement classes into your schedule, take the most rigorous course schedule that YOU can handle and be successful in. Just because your friends are taking AP US History, does not mean that that is the class that you have to excel in as well. Of course, if you have the academic ability or want to stretch yourself by taking higher level courses, intermediate and advanced courses are great, but always be prepared for the work load.
Be excited about what you are learning in your classes. By being excited, studying for tests and preparing class projects becomes so much easier. The simplest way to have enthusiasm is to pick a class schedule with courses that have curriculum topics that excite your personal interests. Two of the biggest mistakes that students make when choosing their course schedule are choosing classes that their friends have picked and choosing classes that they think look impressive to colleges. Instead, pick classes because you are excited to immerse yourself in the curriculum.
This is where students will spend most of their time: studying for tests, completing homework assignments and preparing for standardized tests, like the ACT and SAT. The most important part of being successful in high school, and even other areas of life, is to put in the time and effort to receive results. Of course, students need to remember to spend free time doing other activities, like going to football games or hanging out with friends, rather than studying all of the time, but the primary focus of high school is the educational component and how to make the most of the opportunities offered to you at your high school.
- Making a plan of action
The overall consensus that I’ve gained from students is to plan ahead. As early as eighth grade, map out a high school curriculum that interests you. Take basic courses during your freshman or sophomore years in order to take the rigorous courses that colleges look for when you become an upperclassman. By taking prerequisite courses, you will be prepared to take the step into the Honors, AP or IB world. Also, creating a plan for your “dream college” should be completed early so that when the time comes for applying to schools, you are not stressed out with deciding where you want to spend another four years of your education.
With these five simple steps, you will be on the road to a successful high school experience!
–Olivia Turk is currently a High School Senior at Dublin Jerome High School.