High School Advice from a BCA Graduate

Advice for High School Success

As an eighth grader nearing the end of the school year, high school may seem both exciting and overwhelming. However, you can ease your nerves by learning from students who found success during their high school years.

While you can read a previously published blog post featuring tips from BCA upperclassmen mentors about thriving in high school here, MEK is also offering insight to incoming freshman in the form of advice from Jaehee Ahn, an MEK alumnus!

Jaehee is a 2015 graduate of BCA’s Academy for Business and Finance/International Baccalaureate (ABFIB). She was also an architecture major at the University of California at Berkeley, College of Environmental Design, and she graduated in 2019.

When we spoke with Jaehee, she gave us sage advice on how students can excel beyond the classroom even while in an extremely competitive environment. In other words, getting As is not enough. You have to take care of yourself and have fun while earning those As!

Here are her 7 key pieces of wisdom:

#1. Be constantly aware of how you are spending your time.

As easy as it is to get distracted by social media or video streaming, it is also easy to lose focus and end up spending hours just staring at an assignment. If this is happening, it means that you need rest! If you are conscious about how you are spending your time, you will also know when you need to take a break or if you need help. You will inevitably have countless assignments and exams at once, and if you are not conscious, it will be difficult to do all of them and also take care of yourself. Be efficient!

#2. Don’t be afraid to explore your passions.

It is just as important to know what you DON’T like as it is to know what you DO like.

It is not realistic to expect your eighth-grade self to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. As an ABF student at BCA, I realized at the end of freshman year that I did not like business or finance or economics, and I spent too much time trying to make myself like it. I spent the latter portion of my sophomore year and my entire junior year trying to find what I do like through trial and error with IB CAS hours, clubs, and extracurricular activities.

#3. Stay true to your course.

While the academics are very rigorous at BCA, what makes it even more difficult is the competition. The students at BCA are all there to earn good grades and eventually go to a top-tier college or university. There will definitely be classmates who do not want you to achieve a 4.0, or will make you feel inferior because you do not have a 4.0. Do not let either of these factors stop you. You have your own course, and it is important that you do not let anything or anyone sway you.

#4. Listen to your body.

The only person who knows exactly what you are going through is yourself. Remember that your academic life does not end when you are admitted to college. The study habits that you make during high school have to last you throughout college and sometimes more. Eat properly, sleep as much as you can, and ask for help when you need it. Help comes in many forms: academic tutoring, guidance counseling, and also mental health counseling. There are resources in BCA for all of these, so if you find yourself needing them, do not hesitate to use them.

#5. Leave the past in the past.

There may be times when you receive an unsatisfactory grade, and there may be times when that unsatisfactory grade seems like the end of the world. (I have cried over many a test grade.) There are test grades that you can dispute, depending on the instructor and the subject. However, there are many that you may not be able to do anything about. If that is the case, just leave that exam in the past, and continue to study and work toward the next. Do not linger in the past – it will only hold you back and give you reasons to be unhappy. Let it go.

#6. Grades are not enough.

You will hear from countless counselors and teachers that your grades are not enough. You need extracurricular activities, good test scores, volunteer work, and more. And while this is all so true, you also need to have a good time. Make an effort to enjoy your time in high school. Make your extracurricular activities things that you enjoy doing. Find a solid group of friends who you can trust and make lots of memories with. In college, I was the only one I knew who did not enjoy high school or did not have many good memories, and I found it so upsetting that I spent four years of my life without any pursuit of happiness. Do what you need to do, but find ways to be happy doing it.

#7. Enjoy your time as much as you can.

If it is not obvious in the previous 6 points, the thing I regret the most in high school is that I did not enjoy it more. I only went to selective school functions and I barely went out with my friends. The four years of high school are four years you will never get back, so don’t let yourself remember these next four years as unhappy ones. Be strategic with your time, not only to get good grades, but also so that you have time to enjoy.

Good luck!

– Jaehee Ahn

Looking for ways to feel more prepared?

High school may still seem scary, but preparation is the best way to succeed. Use your spring strategically so that you have more time to enjoy high school with your friends!

Check out our H.S. Honors Courses (from Algebra to Biology) and AP classes that guarantee you will feel confident and prepared to ace those exams. Then, spend more of your free time making memories to last a lifetime.

You can also reach out by calling 855-346-1410 or by scheduling a free consultation with our academic counselors.

Jaehee Ahn

Jaehee Ahn is MEK Review's Director of Academic Counseling Services and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She is also an alumnus of MEK Review's SAT Prep program. If you have any questions about our College Counseling programs or wish to set up a consultation, you can email Jaehee at acs@mekreview.com.


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