We asked our Smarty Teen Expert, Olivia Clark, to share some tips for kids coming through the ranks. Here’s what she delivered – this Smarty gal has a great perspective, don’t you think? ~Jen
The upperclassmen don’t pay as much attention to you as you think. Believe it or not, there really is a world outside of the frantic halls of high school. I distinctly remember my first day of freshman year; my nerves were on edge and my stomach was rumbling from a stampede of butterflies. The walk to my third-floor homeroom seemed infinite as I shied away from every “big kid” I made eye contact with. My heart was frantically pounding out of my chest because I believed every older kid was judging me– hardcore. Now, a few years wiser, I understand that high school follows somewhat of an every-man-for-himself policy. No people, not even the big kids, are paying attention to you, or your clothes, or your hair, or anything else. The big, bad beasts that are upperclassmen really are nothing to be afraid of… they’re just friendly giants.
Grades freshman year ARE important. I know this phrase may sound like a record on repeat because EVERYBODY seems to be saying it– but it is 100% true. In the beginning it doesn’t seem like much; however, at the end of freshman year, when transcripts are allocated, those kids that transcended in their classes as freshmen will be placed on the top of the totem pole for the rest of their high school career because a.) they have the cornerstone of a killer GPA, b.) they possess easy access to all of the most prestigious classes, and c.) they have more room to make mistakes in the upcoming years. Yes, you may have to substitute a few hours of Netflix for a few hours of studying, but the benefits you’d receive by having a stellar freshman year surpass those of watching another episode of Orange is the New Black by a milestone. (That’s what weekends are for!)
Your friends may change… don’t stress over it. High school is a time of highs and lows, good days and bad days, dreams and doubts, and friends and foes. No matter how many years you have known somebody, they still have the capability to change– for the better or for the worse. Friends may come and they may go and they may fluctuate between different groups on the so-called “social ladder”. However, the most important thing to remember is to not stress over such a petty, juvenile issue. Be open to new friendships, but don’t leave your middle school friends in the dust, either. And most importantly, surround yourself with the kids that bring out your best, intellectual, and most superb sides. You are a combination of the people you surround yourself with the most… so choose wisely!
Your counselor is your best friend. Now I’m not saying that you have to go get your nails done and gossip about boys together, but your counselor is definitely somebody you want to have a rock solid relationship with. Your counselor acts as your all-access tour guide to the rest of your life as they navigate you through the twists and turns of high school education and college preparation. They have nothing but your best interest in mind. Your success constitutes their success, so you can be completely positive that your counselor will always have your back, no matter the issue. In addition, they make great listeners. Do NOT be afraid to go to your counselor for advice, whether it is about grades, boys, family, friends, or anything else. They care about you more than you think.
Clubs are neat, not nerdy. No matter what high school you attend, there will always be an abundance of clubs open to any students willing to join. As a freshman, I was initially skeptical of providing my information to the president of any club in fear that joining would cramp my style. However, as I dove deeper into the semester, I discovered that the number of upperclassmen attending the club meetings was massive and continued to increase. Being the naive and desperate 13 year old that I was, I instantaneously signed up for every club that would still accept me. To my surprise, I gained more service hours, met more people, and participated in more activities then I ever could have imagined; not to mention how beneficial they are for college resumés, as well. Consequentially, I now strongly advise you to give clubs a chance. Clubs exist for people who love sports, school, animals, service, food, technology, and everything in between. Therefore, one certainly exists for you too!
All nighters never work. I don’t care how many cups of coffee you drink, how much chocolate you devour, or how many 5 hour energies you force down, there is absolutely no reason to be studying until the break of dawn. Yes, the occasional 1 in the morning study session is inevitable every now and then, but constant sleep loss isn’t doing you any favors whatsoever. There are a few strategies for dodging these sleepless nights: 1.) Don’t waste time in school. When your teacher gives you time at the end of class to start on your homework, take advantage of it instead of daydreaming and glaring at the clock. As you’ll learn, time is precious and needs to be handled wisely in order to get enough beauty rest. 2.) Avoid procrastinating at all costs. Teachers assign projects and essays so far in advance solely for your benefit, not to make your stress levels rise. The products of procrastination only result in a poor night of sleep and a mediocre grade. 3.) Prepare in advance for exams. At this point in your life, exam week is the most stressful thing you will experience. To facilitate you in your studies, keep your tests and notes throughout the year to accumulate into a killer study guide. Trust me, you’ll take every hour of sleep you can get!
It’s okay to make mistakes. I can not stress enough the importance of remembering that nobody is perfect. We all mess up sometimes– that’s just the way life rolls. If and when you receive a poor grade, forget your homework, or even just trip up the stairs, don’t overanalyze it. One little mistake isn’t going to hurt you, diminish you, or cause a decadence in your GPA. I strongly exhort you to not allow diminutive blunders to degrade your confidence. Don’t spend your day worrying about something that happened last week, last night, or last period. Every day is a new day with infinite chances to redeem yourself.
and most importantly…
Enjoy yourself. High school is a time for you to pave the way towards your future, but it is also a time for you to enjoy your remaining childhood before you enter the real world. Now I’m certainly not saying that you should disregard your work to go party every night, but it is important to find a balance between your school life and your social life. After a hard week of school, reward yourself by going to the Friday night football games or enjoying a nice meal or curling up and watching Netflix with a bowl of popcorn at your side. High school makes your life stressful, but it isn’t your whole life. Remember to stop and enjoy your time as a teen every once in a while, too.