This senior’s tips for high school students.
As I prepare to start my final week of high school (still an interesting thought), I reflect on the last four years happily. Time feels like it’s simultaneously gone by far too slowly and far too fast at the same time. I was accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point, which was my dream school for the last few years and offers some pretty great perks (like literally getting paid to go to school) and I’ll be shipping out to start my training there in less than a month. My class and I, whether we realize it or not, are about to make one of life’s biggest transitions. Before I do though, I’d like to leave some tips for underclassmen on how to maximize their teenage (high-school at least) years.
- Join clubs or participate in sports. It’s cliched and probably over-suggested advice-but with good reason. I’ve made a lot of my best friends and made a lot of memories participating in clubs and sports. If it takes you a while to find a sport you love, it’s okay. I played almost every sport Franklin offers at one point or another and found that none of them were for me. Then I found the Milwaukee Rowing Club and discovered that rowing was the sport for me (Haven’t heard of rowing? You should check it out, it might be for you too: http://www.milwaukeerowingclub.org ). No matter what sport you choose to do, you’ll be getting a great workout everyday which will also put you on the path to a healthier, happier life.
Note: Colleges also love sports and clubs and participating will vastly increase your chances of admission.
- Spend time with your friends on a regular basis and surround yourself with intelligent people. You probably already do the first part, which was honestly probably one of the best parts of these last four years. The second part is important too though, because smart friends will help drive you to improve and feed your ambitions. On the other hand, don’t befriend the kid who does nothing but play Xbox and vape as he’ll probably end up going nowhere and taking you with him. People are largely determined by who they associate with, so try to associate yourself with people that will improve you.
- Do as many summer programs as possible. There are lots of opportunities to enrich yourself that take place over Summer Vacation. Many colleges offer intern/additional learning programs between your junior and senior years and there are many outside organizations that conduct similar programs. Personally, I went on church mission trips my freshman and sophomore summers and then went to the Naval Academy Summer Seminar (NASS) and Badger Boys State (BBS) my junior summer (last year). Each one of these experiences has enriched me and helped me to become who I am today. Looking back, they were always a highlight of my summer, and I’m glad to have participated. The mission trips had me volunteering in lower income communities in St. Louis and Arkansas, broadening my outlook and creating a greater appreciation for the opportunities I have. I met people my age from across the state at BBS and from across the country at NASS, which also served to give me greater perspective and led me to the realization that most of America has no idea what a cheese-curd is (it’s exclusively a Wisconsin thing).
- Don’t waste your time. Video games and tv/netflix can be fun, and in moderation they’re not an issue. An issue arises, however, when they become the only way you can think of to unwind. As a person who formerly played a lot of video games, you’ll probably end up regretting the priority you let them take. You’ve only got one life. Why waste your limited time on earth striving to get the best virtual weapons and armor (or the highest prestige level) in whichever game you play? Sure it might be cool now that you got full Daedric before reaching level 20, but a few months down the line you’re not really gonna care and in a few years you won’t even remember. You will, however, remember your real life experiences.
- Work hard. This one is self-explanatory-you should try your best at everything you do. You’ll never regret giving something your all.
- Be confident. Personally, I think that this is the most important tip I can give. Most people won’t care how you look or dress, despite how much you may feel like they do. People will respect confidence, however. Being confident allows you to love yourself, which in turn allows you to focus on achieving your goals. It gives you the ability to ask that cute girl/guy on a date, to make friends, and to discover your best self.
I’m by no means infallible, and what equates to happiness for me is very likely to be different for many of you. That being said, I truly believe that these tips will lead you to develop a happy and memorable high school career. Best of luck and thanks to you who read my articles. Remember that confidence and a positive attitude are the keys to a happy life, no matter what is thrown your way. At least for me anyway.