Since my time as a Paul VI student has come to a close, I thought I’d offer a few tips for those who still have a ways to go. These tips were developed based on my own high school experience, but I hope they will be helpful to other students, as well.
- Don’t always take the most advanced course you are eligible for.
Taking challenging courses can enhance your educational experience and look good on your transcript. Think twice, however, before signing up for all honors and Advanced Placement courses. Too many rigorous courses can be extremely stressful and hard to manage. You should only sign up for an AP class if you are interested in the subject and willing to do the work. Furthermore, you can still get into a great college even if you forgo some tougher classes that don’t pique your interest. For example, I was accepted to UVA, JMU and William and Mary despite taking College Prep pre-calculus rather than Honors pre-calculus during my junior year and taking Statistics instead of Calculus during my senior year. Do well in all your classes, but only take advanced courses for the subjects you enjoy.
- Don’t have fried food and a soda for lunch everyday.
Trust me. It’s just not a good idea.
- Be yourself.
Always following the crowd is a mistake. In high school, so many people seemed concerned with fitting in. I can’t count the number of times somebody did something they didn’t want to do just because everyone else was doing it. Don’t be afraid to be different and do what makes YOU happy. As long as you’re not doing something blatantly cruel or illogical, your friends shouldn’t mind. If they do mind, find some new friends. It shouldn’t be too difficult as there are plenty of great people at PVI who won’t judge you every two seconds.
- Be nice to your teachers.
Maintaining a good relationship with your teachers can be beneficial in so many ways. At the very least, always be respectful.
- Follow the dress code.
It’s not that hard to comply with the dress code, so why not follow it? Do you really gain that much satisfaction by walking around with an untucked shirt or green socks? There are plenty of things to worry about during the school day without constantly wondering whether or not a teacher will notice your uniform violation.
- If you can sing at all, join choir.
Joining choir was the best decision I made in high school. My favorite PVI memory is the music trip to Los Angeles during my junior year. Furthermore, Chamber Choir is an honors class that will likely boost your GPA. Additionally, choir gives you the opportunity to audition for District Chorus. If you make it, it looks really good on a college application. Singing with the choir at school masses is also a bonus, because you get to sit on the comfortable chairs as opposed to the cramped bleachers. Lastly, everyone I ever met in choir was extremely nice and supportive.
- Don’t do drugs.
It won’t make you seem cool, and there are better ways to spend your time.
- Don’t stress over everything.
At times, one test or assignment can seem like a big deal. But in the long run, one grade matters very little. Don’t completely blow off studying for a test or doing an assignment, but be sure not to overwork yourself either. If you happen to get a bad grade, don’t worry about it. A low score may lower your grade for the quarter, but everything will balance out by the end of the year. Furthermore, by the time you graduate, you really won’t care about that one chemistry test you failed two years ago.
- Think about college.
Don’t wait until the start of senior year to start thinking about college. I’m not saying you have to complete your applications over the summer, but at least get an idea of which schools you want to apply to. Choosing a college is a major life decision, and you don’t want to have your college search compromised by the hours of homework you’re bound to get during the first semester of senior year. You need time to read the Fiske Guide, browse the Internet and plan your future. Researching colleges can be fun once you get started. I suggest you start sooner rather than later.
- Enjoy high school as much as you can.
I’ll admit high school wasn’t the best four years of my life. But you must pass high school in order to move on bigger and better things. If you’re going to have to go to school for four years, you might as well enjoy it as much as you can. Make friends. Try something new. Learn something. Enjoy it while it lasts.