I’ve been out of high school for close to 8 months now and after being so removed from it, I finally understand what everyone meant when they told me that my experience is worth more than my education. Since I know there are a ton of you who are still trudging through high school, counting down the days until you’re out and you’re in college or exploring the world, I thought it’d be fitting for me to share this new-found insight with you.
For as long as I can remember, people have been telling me how important it is for me to actually get an enriching experience in all I do, including going through high school.
I’ve always been someone who values good grades over everything; for me, an A on a paper is far more rewarding than a good night with my friends. However, as much as I do value good grades (and I really do!), looking back on it, I wish I had spent more time in high school trying to experience things that I no longer can. I’m realizing now that I probably should have gone to that Wednesday night concert with my best friends; it’s nearly impossible to get us all to the same place now and I probably won’t be able to see that same artist live again. I also probably should have taken a couple of those seemingly impossible classes, even if I thought I would fail them, just for the fact that a year ago, they were free and I had access to a lot more help and resources.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I made a mistake – I valued my education more than my experience. As important as it is to get good grades in high school, I wholeheartedly believe that getting an amazing experience may actually be more important. Being hundreds of miles away from my high school friends has made me realize that I should have spent more time with them while I still could. At the end of the day, failing one test won’t be that memorable and neither will getting a zero on a homework assignment. However, all those nights spent with your friends, whether you went to a concert or you just stayed in, ordered food, and watched a good movie, will always be memorable.
In addition to living a more enriching life in high school, having these other experiences on top of academics will undoubtedly make you stand out in every application and interview. Generally, interviewers will ask questions such as “What do you like to do in your spare time” or “What’s your most memorable moment from high school?” Tons and tons of kids say things like “I volunteer in a soup kitchen” or “My most memorable moment was helping a 7 year old learn how to ride a bike.” While these are great examples (and totally valid to have), interviewers may end up mixing you up with all of the other people who give the same answers. However, if you answer the aforementioned questions with things like “I go to concerts and blog about what it’s like to be in a mosh pit” or with “The time my friends and I drove to the beach with a bunch of weird, different musical instruments and had an hour long jam session,” you’re way more likely to be memorable. Who knows — you may even strike a chord with the interviewer and end up relating to them much better than you had anticipated.
Don’t make the same mistake that I did. Put your social life before school sometimes. Skip class to go to the new mall that opened up or to take a drive to the beach if it’s nice out. Stay up really late doing something you love and be a zombie in class the next morning. Take those challenging courses, even if you think you’re absolutely going to fail. Don’t be afraid to constantly question everything and try new things. You will never be going to school for free again (unless you end up with a full ride) and you’ll never feel the comfort that home brings you for an extended period of time again. Take every chance you can to make a mistake, but please, don’t make the mistake of putting grades over life experiences; I promise you that the latter is far better.