Last Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Our CollegeXpress Student Writers Class of 2017 recently shared top tips for surviving high school, getting into college, and more. But when it comes to hearing from real-life students, we think there’s never too much of a good thing. So, here are even more words of wisdom for high school underclassmen from our CollegeXpress Student Writers. Thanks for all these pointers, and for sharing your high school and college experiences with us this year!
Explore your interests
Take more electives in your first few years of high school if you can. This will give you a solid idea of what you want to study in college and will relieve some stress when you are trying to decide on a major. Also, high school extracurricular activities are a great way to explore yourself and what interests you, so you will know exactly what clubs to get involved with in college. Not only will this increase your experience, you will be able to jump right into on-campus involvement by your first day of college! — Christiane Townsend, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Class of 2020
Be well rounded
After spending a year in college, I’m starting to learn how important it is to be a well-rounded person. Sure, it is a good idea to study and do well in school, but homework should not be the only thing you do, and it should not be keeping you up at night. Join a club. Volunteer. Find your bliss, your passion. Chances are it will be a lot easier to talk in an interview about the successful fundraising project you helped organize for your favorite charity than the class you aced because you stayed up all night studying. Value stories and experiences over GPA points, because others will too. — Megan Rosta, Loyola University Chicago, Class of 2020
Realize everyone is different
I have learned in college (and will continue to learn in life) that everyone does not have the same heart as you. It may seem obvious, but it does not click until you start having roommate issues…and you see one courtesy as common sense, but the other person doesn’t. People do not have the same brain as you. You may work with someone who has different political views than you. It can become difficult to reach common ground. Generally, the idea that people have been raised in much different environments than you does not set in until college. — Afsha Kasam, Quinnipiac University, Class of 2018
You do you
High school is important—it determines what college you go to and essentially your future. More than determining your academic future, though, high school helps shape your future personality. Academics come first, always. But high school is also fun, so allow it to be fun and exciting. Talk to people, soul search, find what makes you happy and do it, even if it doesn’t make sense. And don’t think it makes you lame to study; most of the time it makes you everyone’s best friend. No matter what your mom says, the people laughing at you probably aren’t jealous, but they aren’t better than you either. — Saidee Holmes, Greenwood High School, Class of 2018
Don’t let the future consume you
My advice for high school underclassmen is to relax and have fun. High school seems like forever, but those four years pass by quickly. High school is a time to meet all kinds of people, participate in different activities, and learn about yourself. Please do not prioritize your time by worrying about college the whole time, because that will only take away from your high school experience. Everything will fall into place when it needs to. So enjoy high school now, and worry about the rest of your life later. — Diana Santacruz, University of Alaska Anchorage, Class of 2019
Hone your skills
Focus on skills, not knowledge. When was the last time you needed to use the Pythagorean Theorem outside of class? That’s right—never. But when was the last time you needed to use logic to solve a problem when only some of the information was known? Probably multiple times today alone—maybe even when deciding what to have for breakfast. The point is, the Internet makes facts easily available at any time. Memorization is no longer practical. But the skills needed to make sense of and apply those facts are always in demand. — Evan Brown, Indiana University, Class of 2019
Put in the extra effort
My advice would be to do something, even if it's just a little at a time. A lot of seniors realize too late that they may have missed the cutoff for a scholarship by just a few service hours, or that that one test they could have studied for a bit harder during freshman year dragged down their entire average. One hour of work a week adds up to a lot in the end: money, opportunities, and college acceptances! — Nathaly Macias, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Class of 2018
Take advantage of every opportunity
High school isn’t a bad thing. It’ll seem crazy and awful during some points, but that’s okay. Life is awful and crazy sometimes, but it’ll just give you some stories to tell later down the road. It’s only four years, but these four years are when you decide what you want to do. So, get involved. Join clubs. Talk to people. Make friends and do unforgettable experiences. It’s going to help you want to reach out and try new things in college and for the rest of your life. Don’t let anything pass you up. — Zia Sampson, Brentsville District High School, Class of 2019
Utilize your resources
In high school, I used every spare moment at the Career Center. I applied to several scholarships and was awarded thousands of dollars for college. The Career Center provides students with academic counseling, job opportunities during and after high school, internships, and scholarships. If you have a similar office in your high school, utilize your time wisely by stopping by once a week to receive updated information. This small amount of time could help you earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars for your education. Use your time wisely and take advantage of the amazing resources the Career Center, your guidance counselor, or other resources can offer you! — Maria G. Maldonado, California State University, Northridge, Class of 2017
And don’t forget to have fun
Even though there is a lot of pressure to push yourself to high academic standards in high school, remember that you are still a teenager. You will experience a whole new kind of freedom and have so many new opportunities. Make sure to spend time with your friends and family, go to those Friday night football games, and take time to do things that you love. Don’t completely lose sight of your goals for the future, but know that it’s okay to not place studying, homework, and a million AP classes as your only priorities in life the whole time. — Brittani Wert, Kelly Walsh High School, Class of 2018
We hope everyone had a wonderful end to their school year and is looking forward to new and exciting possibilities in the future. The fall semester will be here before you know it, so make sure you’re prepared for everything is has to bring by heeding this advice from our wise and thoughtful student writers.
Use the tag “advice for underclassmen” to find more wisdom from graduates to help you get through high school!