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High School – (n.) school attended after elementary school and junior high school; school with students in grades 9-12 or 10-12; a world of unlimited opportunity.

On the first day of the school year, the eager freshmen gaze around the campus at all of the future possibilities. Maybe they will join Key Club, maybe they will try out for cheerleading, maybe they will be class president, or maybe they will start their own club. One thing’s for sure, there are seven huge mistakes that they might make in their high school career that could hinder their high school experience and future success.

DON’T . . .

. . .think you are too cool to participate

“Only the losers do that,” says the boy who will seriously regret not getting rowdy during the pep rallies. Thinking you are above everything in high school could cause you to miss out on fun memories like dressing up during Homecoming week, supporting sports teams at games/meets/matches, and joining clubs. School events are great ways to meet other students and feel like an important part of the school community. Some schools are so huge that students do not get to meet every student in their class by the time they graduate. These classmates could potentially be lifelong friends. The worst feeling is when graduation is drawing near and your primary thought is, “I wish I would have done . . .”

. . . procrastinate

“I’ll do it tomorrow” is one of the worst habits to get into because it adds stress to your life. A different mantra to pick up instead is, “do it the first time, on time”. Teachers look down upon those who procrastinate because it is a sign of an irresponsible student. Remember deadlines and start projects and essays with enough time to go over them and check for errors before turning them in. Your grades and your peace of mind will thank you.

. . . be mean to teachers

Teachers are people too. Shocking, but true! Students who harass teachers are setting themselves up for disaster. Teachers have a lot of power: the power of the advocate and the grade. Recommendations are huge in the college application process, as well as for scholarships and other programs that require recommendations. A student who is mean to a teacher may forfeit a strong recommendation. Teachers talk, so disrespecting one teacher may have unexpected consequences regarding recommendations from other teacher. The power of the grade is an unspoken power. Grades are meant to be objective, but a well-liked student is more likely to get an extra grade boost than a disliked student. This is by no means a suggestion to become a “teacher’s pet”, but befriending teachers may be beneficial in the future. Some of them are also pretty neat people, regardless.

. . . forget to prioritize your health

Keeping up with classes, sports, clubs, band, friends, family, can be nearly unmanageable. While juggling these, health seems to be put on the backburner for many high school students. A lack of sleep can cause physical harm such as migraines, and weakness. The stress can impair concentration and memory. Combat these by making time for “me” time, time to do things that aren’t necessary, and be sure to get enough sleep at night. Nothing is worth sacrificing mental health, so do not put more on your plate than you can stomach.

. . . miss out on family time

Family is everything. During high school, a lot of time is spent with friends and at extracurricular activities. Those are important, but family trumps all. They are there for you whenever you need them and want nothing but the best for you and your future. High school may be the last time that a family is complete under one roof. Make time for family by sitting down to eat dinner together, going to a movie together, or some other activity your family enjoys.

  • . . . compare yourself with other students

A little competition is good because it drives you to better yourself. Yet, piling on three more unnecessary APs on top of a busy extracurricular schedule just because so-and-so is doing it is unhealthy. It is tiring to constantly try to keep up with others. There is no need to feel bad about your achievements, even if others get more recognition or higher grades. What matters is putting in the greatest effort and gaining the most knowledge. That is how you win in the long run.

. . . give in to peer pressure

People might try to get you into some bad habits in high school. Drugs will totally ruin your high school experience. Like most of us have been conditioned from elementary school until now, “just say no!” The same thing goes for bullying. Even if everyone is bullying the class nerd (nerds are cool now though, right?), that does not make it okay or right for you to participate. You will look back and wonder why you were so easily influenced by others.

Be sure to watch out for these don’ts throughout your high school career to be sure you get the most out of your experience. Focus on your education but have a little fun, make some friends along the way, and take advantage of everything your school has to offer, because soon enough you’ll be in a gown surrounded by your classmates, waving farewell to your comfortable high school..

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