Well, it has officially been one summer and one semester since I graduated from high school – and I can say with confidence that the past six months have been the most transformative so far. As always, there are a few things I wish I knew ahead of time – some things I wish someone had said to me. In all likelihood, everything I’m about to write was said to me and I was just too anxious and excited to listen. Either way, listen up high school seniors.
First of all, stop stressing yourselves out about college decisions coming out. I know that seems absolutely ridiculous to say. Every time I heard that last year, I would roll my eyes and turn the other way. It’s impossible not to worry about these decisions – they will play a major role in deciding where you spend the next four years of your life. But you must realize that you have the opportunity to be happy anywhere you attend. Will some schools cater to your interests better than others? Sure. It’s important, however, to be excited about all of your schools. If you can see yourself at any one of them, then you’ve done yourself good. You’ll find your crowd and your interests wherever you go. So stress about it for now if you really need to – but don’t go crazy over it.
Next, ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR HIGH SCHOOL EXPERIENCE. I cannot stress this enough. Once we get accepted to college, we have this impatient tendency to be constantly looking forward toward orientation. This is a huge mistake. Whether you want it to happen or not, your high school class is going to grow apart. You have one more semester left with these people, plus whatever you make of the summer. So as hard as it may be to do, at least try to put the thought of college in the back of your mind once you’re accepted. Make the most of your remaining time in the high school era.
Stop, or better yet, never start the whole public self-pitying deal. This goes for high school and college: we are all busy, we will all be sick at multiple points during the semester; we all have personal trouble either back home or right here in the dorm – so stop broadcasting your problems as if the universe is purposely choosing your life to spoil. That being said, you absolutely need to have at least one friend through it all who won’t mind listening to your issues and being there among the chaos. Don’t run around the dorm blabbering about how hard you have it, but don’t keep everything bottled up to yourself either. There is always a happy medium.
And when you are finally in college, be sure to return to your high school for the occasional visit. There is little that is more rewarding than chatting with your favorite teacher about your studies and their lives and how things have changed. They love hearing about your success and ventures because they are usually the ones who planted the initial seed – so it’s an enriching experience for both parties. When I visited my high school over break, I was even treated to lunch at Moe’s by my old physics teacher. It’s worth a couple hours of your time.
Finally, and I’ve said this before, it’s okay if you don’t have a plan. You shouldn’t have a plan going into your freshman year of college because the only thing that concrete plan is going to do is restrict you. Have ambition, trust your instincts, and follow your passions. Everything else follows. That’s the truth.
These are some things I’ve learned – either accidentally or through fault of my own. I wish I learned them earlier, but am forever grateful I know them now. What it all boils down to is appreciating relationships that you have now, following what you love instead of what you think you love, and living life moment by moment, focusing on the present as opposed to the ever promising future. The grass only gets greener if you take care of it in its current state. You can’t just go directly from A to B sometimes. High schoolers, I hope you take something from this.