5 Surprising Lessons to Help Get Through High School

High school isn't always easy, but you can make it way easier and more enjoyable for yourself by learning these valuable lessons before it's over.

High school is usually tough at one point or another for most students. Combining secondary-level academics with first jobs, first relationships, college research, and more is a lot for one person to handle no matter who you are. To help you graduate with a good head on your shoulders and more good times than bad, here are a few lessons to learn that’ll help you get through your high school years and beyond.

1. Learn how to cut yourself some slack

Students are expected to do so much these days—there’s more responsibility piled on than many of the generations before you had to deal with. So cut yourself some slack. Give yourself a break. Breathe. No one should be pushing themselves to a breaking point with academics and responsibilities. Yes, you should always try your hardest. But if your hardest is giving you major anxiety and stress, that’s when you need to step back. This will look different for every student. A straight-A student “taking a break” could be allowing themselves a B on an assignment after a really long week. And for a student who’s really struggling, it could mean missing a day of school to rest after doing a ton of extra credit to bring their grade up to a B. Whatever your situation, if you’re doing the work, you also deserve the rest.

Related: How to Manage Your Stress for Better Health as a Student

2. Learn how to savor the moments

It may not seem like it now, but high school is going to fly by, and suddenly, you’ll be in college wondering how you got there. Savor all the moments you can while you have them. Have fun with your friends. Put your all into your academics and know you’re setting yourself a good foundation for whatever your future plans may be. Enjoy the special events you only get in high school. Pay more attention to the world around you than what’s on your phone. A more mindful high school life will set you up for a happier future.

3. Learn how to look beyond high school

Speaking of a happier future (and somewhat contradictory to the last lesson…), you should learn early on that high school won’t be forever. While it’s great to savor the good moments, don’t let yourself get so wrapped up in the bad that you can’t see the other side of the situation. High school will end. The hardships you’re facing will be put behind you, and you do have wonderful things waiting for you in the future. Big moments in high school can sometimes feel like the end of the world when really, it’s just the end of your world as it was before you grew from that experience.

Related: Choosing Your High School Classes With College in Mind

4. Learn how to teach yourself

But aren’t teachers meant to teach us, you ask? Well, yes. But not every teacher is going to be your favorite, and not every teaching style is going to work well for your learning style. Learning the art of teaching yourself will only benefit your academic life. A lot of college work is independent and self-exploratory, and the sooner you develop this skill, the easier that homework, projects, and tests will be for you in both high school and college. Learn how to organize your notes for maximum effectiveness when studying. Learn how to research for more information and seek out answers when you don’t understand something. Learn how to review concepts that give you trouble and find new ways to approach them. These academic skills will take you far beyond education into your adult working life. 

5. Learn how to choose kindness

This may seem obvious—everyone should be nice! But that isn’t often the reality, especially in high school. It’s easier than you think to get caught up in emotions and high school drama and end up doing things you’re not proud of. Although mistakes are inevitable, if you go into every situation remembering to choose kindness, you’ll find yourself looking back on your high school years a lot more fondly later in life. There are things I did in high school that were petty and unfair because I was acting on teen emotions. And I wish I had spent more time appreciating the time I had and the people around me. It won’t always be easy to recognize it, but the moments to choose kindness will present themselves. It’s your choice how you respond.

Related: 2 Important Things That High Schools Don't Teach You

High school should be an enjoyable experience for you, but let’s not kid ourselves: we can’t just pretend it’s all sunshine and rainbows. You’re going to face tough times just as anyone does throughout their life—just like we all did when we were high school age. But keep your head up. Think smart and with kindness, and you’re sure to get through it with happy memories and a great foundation for your future.

Take a break from reading articles and check out the helpful videos on the CollegeXpress YouTube channel.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Kelli Dolan

Kelli Dolan

Kelli Dolan is the Senior Assistant Editor & Counselor Communications Coordinator for CollegeXpress. Her day-to-day includes editing and writing CollegeXpress articles, running the CollegeXpress Counselors social media platforms, and basically just doing all things CollegeXpress. When she’s not editing other people’s work, she's writing for fun, favoring fiction stories and poetry. You could also potentially find her reading, playing video games, or hanging out with her dog, Athena, and red bearded dragon, Freya.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Nazira Abdelkhalek

Nazira Abdelkhalek

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2014

I am very honored to be this year’s recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship! This scholarship is vital to helping me achieve and fulfill my dreams, and gives me confidence and motivation as I begin my college career. The CollegeXpress website has been invaluable over the past year as I planned my educational and professional goals. I highly recommend it to all students as they begin to focus on their college and career interests. The website is a wonderful guide to schools and scholarships.



High School Class of 2023

Being a sophomore in high school, I never really worried about college. I thought it wasn't important to worry about until senior year. Through this program opportunity I came across, I realized how important it is to start looking at colleges early and start planning ahead. CollegeXpress has opened my eyes to what colleges require, what colleges are near me, and what they offer. The daily emails I get from CollegeXpress really help me look at the different options I have and what colleges I fit into. Without this website, I would not be taking the time out of my day to worry about what my future will be nor what opportunities I have. I could not be more grateful for such an amazing and useful website. It's thanks to CollegeXpress that not only me but my family now know how much potential I have in to getting into these colleges/universities that we thought were out of my reach.



High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress helped open me up to many colleges that fit my interests. I’m only a sophomore in high school, so I like having a lot to look at, and CX does a great job of picking colleges that meet my wants. It's a great website that I'll continue to use until it comes time for me to apply for colleges. I also like that it notifies me through email with options to look at. Thanks CX!

Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.



High School Class of 2022

My mother signed me up for a couple of scholarship contests through CollegeXpress. I was also able to do some research and compare the different schools on my list. I was able to see the graduation rates and different programs that helped me decide on Adelphi University. I will continue looking for some scholarships for my start in September.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Lynn University

Boca Raton, FL

Hofstra University

Hempstead, NY

Ohio University

Athens, OH