By Students, for students
| Howdy! My name is Mishael and I am a high school senior. (Say my name like Michelle and, I’m sorry, but you have to insert your own Beatles joke. Example: “Hey, Mishael! If I say “Beatle Boots” three times, will you disappear?”) It’s springtime. This means that my high school stint is over. Have you ever heard people say “these are the best years of your lives” or something similar? Well, the past four years have not been terribly good to me, so I'm especially glad that high school is over. Sometimes I wish that I had known certain things so I could’ve had a different high school experience. Wishing doesn’t amount to much though. I can’t go through high school all over again. (Like I would even if I could, right?) Instead of griping about that for years on end, I’ve decided to help younger high school students by writing this high school survival guide. I interviewed high school students and combined their knowledge with the knowledge I gained from mistakes. Now I bet that your teachers or your parents or someone about one generation older than you has tried to give you advice about high school. If this advisor played a sport in high school to earn a hieroglyph instead of a letter, their advice might be just a tad out-dated. That’s why I decided to go straight to the source: current high school students. Nobody did this for me, so BE GRATEFUL! (Just a warning, I have an off-beat sense of humor.)
This is the first thing you should know: YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE EXCELLENT. Put forth your best effort. You might want to put forth more effort to give yourself a competitive edge when applying for college and scholarships. Bear in mind that it is possible to overdo things. If you find yourself wondering if you should tend to your schoolwork or to your personal well being (like the hunger or sleep deprivation that was caused by your schoolwork), you should definitely tend to your personal well being. Also, bear in mind that the people who review college and scholarship applications are looking for an entire, well-rounded person, not just a brain.
Now that the ice has been broken, let’s talk tips and have a few laughs (hopefully).
If school is the bane of your existence, then extra-curricular activities may very well be your oases. They are not only fun and games though. If you don’t approach activities with a bit of cleverness, they will feel like a never-ending desert, just like the rest of school.
Choose an activity that coincides with your interests. Don’t join some club because you have a mad crush on another student or because you want to impress your parents. Do what you like. You probably don’t have a lot of time in the day to do what you genuinely like. Take the chance when it comes and don’t blow it. In addition to having fun, you might learn something.
Keep your eyes and ears open. Information about activities is usually posted in or announced in school. I learned about all but one of the activities I joined from signs and announcements. You can also learn about activities by talking to counselors and – gulp – teachers. The activity might be worth the torture.
Remember how I said activities weren’t all fun and games? There are some things you should know about an activity before you join it. Make sure that you have time for the activity. In case of multiple activities, make sure that there isn’t a time conflict among them. If you’re worrying about time, I can guarantee that you’re not having fun. You’re also not having fun if you’re worrying about what you need to do for the activity. Always ask yourself if you can handle the demands – like practices or meetings – of the activity. Finally, find out who runs an activity. Nothing sucks the fun out of an activity like an enemy.
TUTORING: HELP IS ON THE WAY
School isn’t always easy. If school were easy, it wouldn’t be school. It would be sleeping or sneezing or – dare I write it – falling off a log. If school were easy, there would be absolutely, positively no reason for me to write this guide. (I bet you wish school were easy even more now.) My point is that you’ll probably need help with your schoolwork, whether it’s just a little bit of help or a lot of help. You need to know where to find this help.
Sometimes teachers are available to tutor. Yeah, that’s right. Some teachers actually like teaching. Odds are that your teachers are available before school, after school, or during lunch. Of course, you should always check with your teachers to make sure.
Since teachers are usually busy, you should probably try to find other students who tutor. Members of the National Honor Society usually tutor. Check to see if your high school has a chapter of the organization. If you can’t find someone who is in a group that tutors as one of its duties, you can probably find a person who wouldn’t mind being a free-lance tutor if asked. If you don’t trust a friend’s ability, you can probably ask AP students and students in subject-specific clubs for help. They probably love their schoolwork, so they would probably love yours even more. (Sorry. I’m assuming that everyone knows what AP means. AP stands for advanced placement. Thanks to the College Board (http://www.collegeboard.com), students can take advanced placement courses and the exams that follow the courses in an attempt to earn some college credit.) Don’t forget to ask people whose academic ability you trust. A tutor doesn’t need to be a unionized nerd. A self-proclaimed nerd is sufficient.
IF YOU'RE NOT BORED TO TEARS, GO ON TO PART 2!
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