How to Prepare for Success in High School: Advice From a BCA Student
Entering high school may seem like a daunting prospect. From schoolwork to sports to social life, not to mention standardized testing and college applications, you may feel overwhelmed at times. But don’t stress, it’ll all be fine in the end!
As a rising senior at Bergen County Academies, here is advice I would offer to freshman on how to prepare for success in high school and beyond.
1. Manage your schedule.
Time management is crucial in high school. Aside from getting through classes and homework, which already take up a significant portion of the day, you may also have to play a sport or instrument, do volunteer work, or attend to family responsibilities.
To stay on top of things and avoid feeling overwhelmed, I recommend taking a few minutes every morning to outline your different events, tasks, and priorities for that day. Doing so will prevent you from forgetting anything important and provide you with a sense of structure during a chaotic chapter of your life.
2. Find your passion.
If you’ve already decided on a college major or your career path, that’s great! If you’re anything like me when I was a freshman, you may have no idea of what you’re interested in and which field to pursue. But don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Be proactive!
Take a variety of electives to dabble in different areas of study. Read up on the different sciences and decide if any of them fascinate you. Join an art class or try playing a new instrument or sport; who knows, you may have a hidden talent!
The easiest way to discover your passion is simply by looking for it. Once you’ve found an area that you wish to pursue, shape your high school years around this central theme. You’ll find that while other high schoolers spend their 4 years in limbo, not knowing what they want to do with their lives, you’ll develop a strong sense of purpose and focus.
3. Use your summers wisely.
While it may be tempting to sleep in, play video games, and watch TV over the summer, be sure not to squander these precious few months! Of course, you should still relax, hang out with friends, and go on vacations, but you have roughly 15 waking hours each day, so try to spend at least a few of them doing something productive.
Make sure to exercise, either through playing a sport or going to the gym. Advance your intellectual pursuits by taking online classes or attending a summer program. You can try to find a job or develop your own original products or services. Summer should be a time for both fun and self-improvement.
4. Start planning for college.
It’s never too early to start planning your future, so get started as soon as possible! Once you’ve discovered a passion or field you wish to pursue, do some basic research about which place best suits your preferences, in terms of academics, location, student life, and a variety of other factors.
Find out the grades and test scores that your dream school requires so that you have a clear target in mind. This will serve as motivation for you to work hard throughout high school. College admissions is a challenging task for the unprepared, so getting a jumpstart will really reduce your stress during senior year, which typically happens to be the busiest in terms of schoolwork.
5. Learn to manage your stress.
Let’s face it: high school can be challenging — you are likely to feel stressed or anxious at times. Learning how to deal with pressure is a critical skill to possess.
If you ever feel overwhelmed, perhaps due to multiple tests on the same day or a looming deadline for a major project, I would advise you to remind yourself to keep perspective – if you won’t remember it a year from now, then it’s not all that important!
Lastly, as a pro tip, the night before an exam or presentation, make sure to sleep early and don’t burn the midnight oil to cram; I’ve found that stress levels tend to increase the later you stay up!
To Sum Up
Of course, high school is also a time for fun and excitement, but always be sure to keep your long-term goals in sight and begin taking steps towards achieving them.
Manage your schedule. Find your passion. Use your summers wisely. Start planning for college. Learn to manage your stress. By following these 5 simple steps, you’ll be able to make the most of your high school years and ready to take on any challenge that lies beyond.
Alex W. is a rising senior in the Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology (AAST) at Bergen County Academies. His academic interests are math and physics, and he enjoys playing baseball and table tennis. Alex is an alumni of the SAT Advanced Prep and BCA Prep courses at MEK Review.