Congratulations to the Class of 2019—you made it! The CX Team is so proud of every student graduating from high school this June. But we’re especially proud of our CollegeXpress student writers and vloggers. These guys take time out of their busy school schedules to write blogs, make videos, and share some of the best advice on every part of the college search process and surviving high school with you!
With another school year coming to an end, we asked our seniors to give us some final advice for underclassmen. Check out their words of wisdom below. Hopefully you’ll be able to apply all their advice to your studies and the rest of your time in high school!
Do what you love
As underclassmen, we constantly view getting into a top-tier university as the North Star. We are invariably supposed to follow this goal so everything we do in high school leads to opening our Ivy League portals and receiving glowing acceptance letters. But I urge you to reject this misconception that has unfortunately infected the minds of well-meaning high schoolers; it can lead to a disastrous senior year and cause you to look back at high school with an unnecessarily pessimistic lens. Enjoy your time. Do what you love. Only then will the right things happen for the right reasons. Only then will all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. — Sojas Wagle, attending Brown University
Some mistakes are okay
Don’t let every assignment stress you out. Work to the best of your ability on each task you’re given, but don’t let yourself believe the lie that one bad grade or one mistake will derail your whole academic career. I made this mistake my junior year of high school, and when I started to take a more level-minded approach to my studies during my senior year, I wasn’t only able to stress less and have more free time, but I was also more successful in my work because I wasn’t constantly worrying and second-guessing myself. — Laura Wallace, attending Anderson University
Be happy, not overstretched
High school is an amazing four years, or it can be. And I could say, “make the most of it and join every club”—I did that, and I loved every second of it. However, I will be the first to admit that it was an egregious amount of work, and my social life suffered from it a little bit. So, yes, make the most of it, but that means finding a balance between school, activities, and socializing. You don't need a 4.5 GPA or to be class president to be happy—you just need to do what you love. — Zia Sampson, attending Loyola University New Orleans
School isn’t the only thing
Throughout your life, you’ve heard the same advice: it’s important to keep your grades up and do the best you can academically—especially in high school! However, it’s also essential to take care of yourself when you feel overwhelmed and stressed, even if you feel like there’s too much work to do. Don’t forget to eat breakfast, call your grandparents, spend time with your family and friends, and do all the things that make your heart happy. High school isn’t only a time to shine academically but to grow personally as well. — Marisa Benedito
You do you
Don't be afraid to be alone! You may hesitate to join something new, put yourself out there, or speak your mind because no one else will go with you or agree with you, but that's okay. High school is a time of change and personal growth, and the only way to develop yourself, your opinions, and your interests is to follow your own path. Having the confidence to stay true to yourself even if you're standing alone will give others the strength to do the same and connect you with people you share things in common with. — Hannah Dodson, attending The University of Alabama
My one piece of advice for underclassmen is to fail happily. I say this because high school can be really hard, and we as society make it seem like rejection is something that shouldn't be acknowledged, but it’s what makes us human. Fail happily because, ultimately, who are we without our failures and successes? — Fatimata Cham, attending Lafayette College
Don’t spectate your life
In today’s day and age, the future is revolutionizing. You are revolutionizing. Change is always on its way. Your GPA? It’s important. Your résumé? Very relevant. Your grades from freshman year? Just as important as your grades from senior year. But beyond that, what is your story? Create it. Don’t just be a mere spectator in the transition—own it! Be an active partaker of your life. Build, improve, and transform your own future! All years of high school matter: make them memorable and shape the path to a revolutionizing future. Hard work and determination are really the only keys to success. — Pariti Sutaria, attending University of Rochester
5 final tips
- Befriend your teachers! They’re there for you. Remember, they’re writing your letters of recommendation! Let them in.
- Take courses that align with your interests. Summers are great for completing prerequisites online or at community colleges so you’re ready for APs at the start of the school year.
- Don’t underestimate the PSAT. Good practice scores can earn you scholarships.
- Achieve recognition; participate in contests. If you’re in a competitive sport, compete!
- Get involved in a cause you believe in—but lead, don’t follow. — Crystal Haryanto, attending University of California, Berkeley
Related: Dear High School Freshmen: Don't Follow This Advice
Congratulations to the Class of 2019, and best of luck in your next chapter!
We have a lovely collection of words of wisdom from other high school graduates and past CX student writers! Check it all out using the tag “advice for underclassmen.”