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How to survive (and even thrive) in High School: Advice From Seniors

Contributed by Maureen Crone and PC's Class of 2018
Contributed by Maureen Crone and PC's Class of 2018

As the parent of a few teens (and long before that, an actual teenager myself) I can say that late August is one of the most stress-filled times of the year for anyone living in close proximity of a fourteen-year-old. The anxiety surrounding the great unknowns of the high school experience overshadow any excitement about new freedoms, friends, or fun to be had. Seeing this on a grand scale at our school this week gave me an idea-- what if our seniors just reached back in time to their first year, and threw a little lifeline out to the newbies in the form of advice?

So I asked. Specifically, I asked senior English students to write one or two sentences of advice to our newcomers. I was honestly expecting a variety of jaded, sarcastic, and-- if I got lucky-- humorous remarks. What I got, though, was pure awesomeness. Of course! Seniors new to being old had a lot to say to build up the esteem of their young fellow students, but were utterly lacking in ego or senioritis. They haven’t yet gotten so used to being large- and- in -charge that they have lost a sense of humility and relatedness. Let’s hope they never do. So with just a little editing, here is what they had to say:

I know right now it seems like the world is spinning, but if you just stop and take a breath it is all going to be okay in the end. High school seems very overwhelming but it all gets better as time goes on, and you begin to figure out your own way of doing things. Just take a breath.

When you see us in the hallway, don't be scared because we look mad. We're probably just tired. Trust me on this. Half the time we don't even know where we are.

I'm going to give you the most generic advice you will ever get: be yourself! Being someone else is uncomfortable and makes everything more difficult. People out there really will accept you for who you are.

Now, when people tell you high school goes by fast... they mean it. Never in a million years would I have thought senior year would be here already.

Never walk in the hallway during activity block unless you have a purpose!

Doing your homework is actually required. I know with the new responsibility and freedoms you have, you may think it isn't necessary. It is. I promise.

Don't change who you are to please others. Be yourself and find people who accept and appreciate you.

Dances are FUN! Don't be afraid to ask someone to go with you. If you can't find a date-- don’t stress; going alone is fun too.

If you need help in a class ask a peer or the teacher for help. Teachers truly want to help their students, so be bold and ask for help if you need it.

You're almost never best friends with the same people you started out with. That is completely okay!

Talk to your counselor. I know it's awkward and at first you probably won't know what to say, but they are there to help you and you should take advantage of that.

Everything is scary at first, but you WILL get used to it. I got lost at least 5 times as a freshman, and Peninsula Catholic is tiny. Now, I know it like the back of my hand.

Have a good time! High school is only 4 years out of your life, and then you’re done. Make the most out of it.

Learn how to communicate with your teachers. I know it might seem scary to email someone you just met, and you might be concerned about asking "dumb questions," but trust me when I say that communication is your biggest ally. So don't be afraid to reach out, whether it's confusion over instructions, or asking for a (legitimate) extension on an assignment.

Branch out! I know you probably have a close group of friends from previous schools, but try to get to know the other people in your class. You will be with this group of students for the next four years. While you don't need to particularly like everyone, it is important to learn to work with and respect everyone.

Go to school events! School plays, sports events, fine arts night, dances, are all great opportunities to get to know new people and find out what the school has to offer.

Don't stress about petty drama. High school is full of drama; that's no secret. Don't let little misunderstandings turn into long-time grudges.

Don't worry: everyone else is just as confused as you.

Get to the cafeteria as fast as you can if you don't want to get stuck in a long lunch line. Also, pizza rolls run out quickly.

Sing in Mass! If you can sing in your car, you can sing at mass. And don’t worry about the way you look. Almost everyone accepts everyone-- and you're going to look great in the same uniform!

Try new sports! You never know until you try… and you’ll make great friends.

If I could go back to my first year, I would remind myself that school is more than just academics. It's where you learn about yourself: your interests, the people you want to be with, and the kind of person you want to be. Remember to work hard in your classes, but don't stress over taking the hardest classes or being the best of the best. Do your best and everything else will fall into place. Be kind! Whether you like it or not, you will be here for another four years. It will be so much more enjoyable with friends and good times.You are going to make mistakes over the next four years. Use these years to learn from the mistakes to prevent future problems. Stay positive! There will be times that you doubt yourself and your capabilities, but you can do anything if you put your mind to it. It sounds cliche, but it's so true. Make the most of these four years. Take pictures, build long lasting friendships, and have fun. You have time to work for the rest of your life, but you can only enjoy being a kid now.

Good luck!
Maureen Crone is PC's marketing and event coordinator, and the mom of two awesome high-schoolers.



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