How to Use High School Wisely

For most teenagers, high school is a time for survival. Very few teens and families take the time to properly plan and evaluate this important time. Academically, high school should be a time of exploration. At best, students find areas of interest that will be pursued in college and beyond. More often, though, high school students are not presented stimulating material. With this circumstance, a high school academic career is mostly a trudge to completion of endless assignments and evaluations.

In pursuits outside the classroom, families and students often fail to approach possibilities with the important question: “What do I enjoy?” Frequently, students listen to the rumor mill and choose the pursuits that everyone else pursues. Not only is this a poor choice for a student in terms of personal development, it is not wise in terms of the college admissions process.

Every college in America receives a pool of well-qualified students, many of whom share near-exact academic records. When those students all participate in similar collections of activities, selecting candidates becomes arbitrary. Why leave your student’s future to chance?

As important to any admission person as your academic records, and as illustrative of your personality as any essay, your extracurricular pursuits can be the catalyst for admission success. Remember, the most important quality that any applicant can offer to a college is the way that student stands out from his/her peers. Put simply: it’s good to be different!

Quite remarkably, this dimension can easily mesh with admission staff expectations. Pursuing interests that you truly care about will enrich your life and provide much experience for later life. Interests that are more enjoyable inspire you to invest more time and energy. Consistent effort in any activity for three or four years will yield impressive entries for your resume and gather many contacts who will provide commentary on your character.

With those points in mind, how do you use high school wisely?

Plan ahead– put together a 4 year plan for academics and extracurricular activities before you step on campus for the first day of 9th grade. A well-made plan is flexible enough to accommodate inevitable changes.

Explore- Take time to learn new interests in and out of the classroom. If your studies are not providing the stimulation you need, then look to internships, volunteer opportunities, and jobs that will provide new knowledge. Do not waste time second-guessing what will impress admission, but focus on personal enjoyment and stimulation.

Pick an activity, interest, or issue that you care about and stick with it- Consistent participation in an area over 4 years is very attractive to admission staff. This shows that the student is mature enough to commit to something and self-aware enough to understand and act on his/her interests.

Challenge yourself in the classroom- This is an issue that throws some families for a loop. Choosing an academic curriculum is fairly simple if you stick to these rules of thumb. No college expects every student to be a standout in all academic areas. Instead, colleges expect that you will challenge yourself in areas of interest and academic strength. If you are a strong student in one or several areas, advanced courses in those areas are for you. While generally it is better to get an A in a regular level course than a C in an advanced course, there is no reason to fear an honors or advanced placement course if you can score a solid B.


One Response to “How to Use High School Wisely”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Collegeclinic. Collegeclinic said: If you want to open up options for college, take a look at these tips on how to use high school wisely […]

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