By Smila Reyes, Madison East High School
There are a few things I struggled with during the transition from middle school to high school and they all have something to do with the “form” by which high school is run. The biggest problem I ran into was the diverse expectations. Contrasting to middle school classes, lessons in high school are more “self-led,” which can be challenging when for the last eight to nine years there’s been someone hand-holding you through all your academics.
If this is also a problem for you, it’s very important to remember that it’s OK to ask for help; and even though your teachers might not always have time for you, it’s their job to help you and be there to make sure you understand the work. So, get to know how your teachers run their classes and ask for help.
This next one is labeled as a misconception but it definitely isn’t. High school has much more homework than middle school, and at the beginning, it can be hard to keep up. Take it from me, it can be very hard to catch up if you get too far behind in the beginning. Time management is a very important step in being successful in high school.
The most effective way to keep up is to keep a planner to write down assignments. When doing homework, try setting 15-minute timers per assignment. If you don’t finish something, come back to it, but it’s better to get all your homework semi-completed than to spend 45 minutes on the same math worksheet.
You’ll have more freedom and choice about your personal life and your academics. I found myself feeling like, because I had more freedom to choose what classes I could take or where I could spend my time and who to spend it with, it wasn’t really a problem if I slacked off. Or, if I didn’t want to do something, I didn’t have to. This is a dangerous mindset. Not only are you throwing away time that you could spend doing things that matter (like your school work) but you are also sorely mistaken.
If you decide not to work because “it’s stupid” or “I don’t need to,” it will impact your future. There’s a saying, “If you want to learn, nobody can stop you. If you don’t want to learn, nobody can make you.” And it’s true. Even if you don’t want to do something, you have to. The idea that not learning makes you cool is ridiculous and you need to do some meditation or something to get you out of that mindset. Find a way to do what you don’t like.
Those are the main things to look out for but there’s also some basic advice I’d like to share with you. Sleep is important. If you’re susceptible to Fortnite and memes, do that during the day. If you don’t get enough rest, you’re going to feel dead tired at school.
One last thing. High school is the time when you really sort of figure out what you’re like and what you want to be in the future. It’s all about personal discovery and learning your interests, and the people you spend time with will impact who you become and how you act as a person. So if you have friends who look down on you for wanting to pay attention in class or think being a good student is lame, that’s toxic and you shouldn’t be looking for that. I’ve seen plenty of smart classmates just not care, or at least pretend not to, because they would be ridiculed by their friends. Being stupid doesn’t make you cool and it doesn’t make your friends cool. So just think about how you act, and be certain that whoever you choose to be, it’ll make you proud to be you.