As a graduating senior who’s experienced all the highs and lows of high school at South Lakes, it’s my job to pass on all the crucial tips, advice and general lifestyle information that I’ve learned over the years to the underclassmen and incoming freshmen. High school may not be exactly the way TV and movies have portrayed it, but here are a few of the best things I’ve learned to help you navigate your way through this four year journey!
⇢ Never sacrifice your sleep to get an assignment done
Despite the fact that this is one of the most crucial tips included in this article, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve sacrificed getting a good night of sleep in order to finish an assignment because I was so worried about potentially ruining my grade in a class or because I had many other homework assignments I needed to get done. Sure, there are going to be times when you’re given too much homework from your classes that you can’t get done in just a night or two, but your beauty sleep shouldn’t be sacrificed just for you to overwork yourself into an exhausted frenzy.
On the contrary, this would be a good time to practice either time management or self-advocating for yourself by reaching out and talking to your teachers about the current situation regarding all your homework/assignments. By reaching out to your teachers and explaining how hard you’ve been working to get all your homework/assignments done while also trying to prioritize getting enough sleep, you’re not only being responsible but you’re also being proactive. Teachers understand how stressful high school can be on students and your teacher will most likely work with you to create a plan so you can get your work done on time without feeling the need to pull all-nighters or you can even bring up the possibility of an extension. There is a chance that your teacher could potentially say no, but it never hurts to ask! Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night is imperative and just because it took me many sleepless, miserable schooldays to learn how important a good night’s sleep is doesn’t mean you can’t learn now.
⇢ Never take a class just because it’s an “easy A”
Because core classes can cause so much stress for a student, especially if said student is deeply committed to taking more rigorous classes and is also focused on keeping their grade high, “easy A” extracurriculars sound like the dream in order to escape from more hard work and extra effort. No matter how appealing it may sound, you should never take an extracurricular just because it sounds easy! You’ll be disrespecting the teacher who’s passionate enough to share their interest with other students by being in a class you don’t even know if you’ll end up liking. Keep in mind, teachers can tell when a student isn’t truly interested in being a part of their class, which is really disheartening for them — how is it fun for them to teach about something they love when one of their students is only in the class for the ease?
Aside from the fact that taking a more convenient class for your grades will hurt your teachers, it also tremendously hurts you. It may seem like a wise choice to take an easier class so you can keep your grade up and improve your GPA for colleges to see, but that’s a misconception. One thing colleges want to see in a potential student is their grit, ability to adapt to more challenging classes and also a student who pursues their passions/interests because these traits show colleges that a student is able to put in effort and dedicate themselves to further their education. So once the time comes for you to choose electives, plan ahead of time to look at potential electives you find interesting and work with your counselor to find an elective that may fit you, your likes and preferences. Trust me, it’ll benefit you in the long run.
⇢ Create a routine for yourself
Because classes and school days can be so time consuming during high school, there are going to be multiple days in which your schedule is thrown off and your nighttime regimen is completed at a much later time than normal. Don’t just go with the flow and end up brushing your teeth at 3 A.M. just so you can manage to squeeze a few hours of shuteye in — create a routine for yourself! Your routine doesn’t have to be 100% accurate all the time, but it helps you keep track of what you should be doing and when so you can focus better on all the tasks you need to complete. You can even create different routines, one for school/weekdays and another for weekends. For example, if you’re creating a routine for weekdays, it could look like this:
Wake up & get ready: [insert time here]
Eat breakfast: [insert time here]
School: 8:10 – 2:50 or later if you have extracurricular activities
Homework: [insert time here]
A bit of free time: [insert time here]
Sports/music/testing practice: [insert time here]
Eat dinner: [insert time here]
Get ready for bed: [insert time here]
Lights out: [insert time here]
Creating a routine for yourself allows you to have a continuous structure so you don’t focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Routines also help you prioritize the tasks you need to get done so you can have more leisure time to yourself and go to bed at an earlier time. And despite the fact that this seems like a monotonous thing to follow everyday, you’ll notice a change in your focus, productivity and even mood because your life will feel more organized and less unpredictable.
⇢ Take advantage of Seahawk Seminar (SS) sessions
As a South Lakes High School student, one thing you’re going to be introduced to is Seahawk Seminar or “SS” sessions throughout the school week. Most of the time, Seahawk Seminar has the same purpose as study hall: get missing work done, study for upcoming tests, quizzes and assessments, complete homework for another class or go to a teacher for help on something you don’t understand. However, teachers also use a period of SS to do SOAR lessons which is when teachers cover presentations meant to inform students and gain their opinions on different topics such as mental health, technology use and so on and so forth. Even though there were more SOAR lessons this school year as opposed to previous years, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of Seahawk Seminar sessions. 40-45 minutes may not be long enough for you to accomplish what you want or get all of your work done, but it’s a good way to spend your time efficiently so you can reduce your workload later on in the day.
It’s also beneficial if you need extra help and more one-on-one time with a teacher or two seeing as teachers are usually happy to help students out during Seahawk Seminars because they don’t have to teach any new lessons or focus on 30 students all at once. SS is really meant for students to be productive so if you find yourself feeling bored or scrolling aimlessly on your phone, think of any assignments you can work on. Then, put your mind to getting as much done as you can and just do it!
⇢ Create study guides for yourself
What’s one of the biggest things that contribute to your grades throughout high school? Quizzes, tests and summative assessments. These three things are more heavily weighted compared to your typical classwork and homework assignments, and it’ll be that way in the majority of your classes all throughout high school. Because these assessments are so detrimental to your grade if you don’t prepare properly or pay enough attention in class, you should start creating study guides for yourself. These study guides can be based on all previous notes, slideshows, homework assignments, Kahoots, quizzes and anything and everything else you believe will help you be more productive when preparing for these exams and assessments. You can also create your study guides in whatever form you please. Whether it’s flash cards, a Quizlet, a Kahoot or a written study guide including thorough notes – each of these methods (and others) are both helpful and effective ways to help you review everything you’ve learned. Creating study guides teaches you how to use your resources and also how to be more independent when it comes to studying, which is another thing that’ll help you prepare for college since you’ll be entirely responsible for how you decide to get ready for important exams during college.
⇢ If you don’t play a sport, manage one
Typically, one of the many fun things students get to look forward to in high school is attending sports games and cheering on their friends, siblings and even significant others since they want to show their support for not only their school’s team, but to the people closest to them. Although, there are also a lot of students that do not and will not play sports in high school and that’s 100% a-okay because there’s a great alternative…managing sports! If you don’t plan to play a sport throughout high school, one of the most beneficial things you can do is manage a sports team.
The first and most important step of becoming a sports manager is looking at all of the different sports throughout the winter, fall and spring seasons so you can pick which ones you like most. There may be multiple sports you’re interested in managing for one season and while that’s great, you should find out all the coaches’ contact information and email them ASAP to express your interest in managing, because there’s a good chance that some of the sports you’re interested in already have the maximum amount of managers needed.
Once you’ve heard back from the coaches and ultimately decided on what sport you’re going to manage and whether you’d like to manage for the boys/girls team, the next step is actually managing the sport. While there are a few things that Covid-19 has prevented managers from doing this year, the one guaranteed thing you’ll need to do is attend each game (unless you have more important things to attend & you’ve already cleared it with the coaches) and keep track of all the goals, penalties and anything else that specific sport requires. Don’t worry if you feel like you won’t be able to manage a sports team because you don’t know the proper terminology, positions for the sport or even how to score for the playing team(s) – that’s part of why the coaches and other managers are there. Coaches and managers are there to teach and guide you through the basics of the sport you choose so you can gain more confidence in your knowledge and eventually be able to score games and jot down everything happening in a game on your own.
Managing a sport may sound like a lot of work, but it’s truly worth it in the end. Not only is managing a possibility for you to learn something new about a sport you may not have much experience with, but you’ll also be able to make new friends with other managers, spend more time with your friends if they happen to play for the sport you manage, be featured in the sport’s yearbook photo, go to games for free, get some awesome merch to wear at games, add your managing experience to college applications and also possibly receive a college recommendation letter from the coaches. Take it from someone who’s managed boys lacrosse, managing a sport is such a fun thing to do and it’s a great learning experience that’ll enrich your high school experience.
⇢ Ask your teachers for help whenever you feel stuck or confused
To all the shy students and to every student who doesn’t ask their teacher for help when they’re struggling with something, don’t be afraid of reaching out and asking for help. You may feel like your teacher is going to judge you or ridicule you for not understanding something they taught in class, but you should remember that teachers shouldn’t be doing either of those things for something that’s a part of their job description. Don’t ever feel like you can’t ask a teacher for help because teachers are there not only to teach but they’re also there to assist their students whenever they need help on a topic. If you’re afraid to tell your teacher you don’t understand something during class, don’t worry!
A lot of students get nervous about publicly saying they don’t understand something in class because they’re worried about what their classmates may think when, in reality, some of those classmates may have the same question stuck on their mind. Rather than have your questions go unanswered, stay after class and talk to your teacher about your concerns regarding what you don’t understand. They’ll most likely tell you to stay after school so they can prioritize teaching you what you need to know without many distractions in their way.