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After over a year of online learning, most US students will be returning to the classroom this fall. Along with the excitement of seeing friends and resuming activities, many are feeling anxiety about the re-opening and return. What do you need to do to maximize your high school experience?
- Get involved. Join a club or activity that interests you and participate fully. It doesn’t much matter which one. Just follow your passions in finding a club that suits you or get together with a friend or two and start your own group. Extracurricular activities are what make high school fun and give you a place to belong.
- Challenge yourself. It might be tempting to take the easier route with grade-level classes, but try that AP or honors class and move beyond your comfort zone. Don’t fear the teacher whom everyone says is really demanding—the best teachers are those who will encourage you to think outside the box and to stretch your mind.
- Ask for help. There’s no glory in doing it all yourself; ask for help when you need it. Online learning has probably created more learning gaps than usual, and more students will need help. Meet with your English teacher after school for help with an essay or ask your math teacher to explain a difficult concept. In this way you’ll establish relationships with your teachers outside of the classroom and perhaps find yourself with a true mentor. Hopefully, you’ll really get to know the individual who will write your college recommendation.
- Try not to focus on being with the popular” kids. High school students tend to form cliques of like-minded individuals. Make your friends based on shared interests and values and welcome opportunities to get to know new friends throughout high school.
- Take care of yourself. That means eating well, getting an adequate amount of sleep and exercise, and finding ways to manage the stress that comes with being a high school student, especially in this time of COVID-19. Learn to manage your time well so you don’t get caught with last-minute assignments. Set aside time each day to work on each subject, even getting ahead in reading or other assignments when you can. Make sure you build in time for fun and relaxation. Go for a run, play with your dog, read a novel, chat with a friend—anything to break up long hours of study.
- Do good—volunteer. Helping others will make you feel good about yourself. Look for volunteer activities that you generally care about, not just those you think will look good on your resume.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. You’ll encounter a lot of petty ideas and petty people during your high school years, but you don’t need to get caught up in focusing on things that really will not matter. Spend your time and effort on those things that are important to you.
- Keep your grades in perspective. Of course you’ll want to do the best you can in each of your classes, but don’t let one or two B’s on your transcript convince you that you’ll never get into college. There are wonderful colleges out there for students who’ve shown a range of achievement; there’s a place for every student who truly wants an education.
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