How to Survive High School in 10 Steps

Medha Shah, Reporter

You open the double doors with butterflies in your stomach and a sense of urgency in your step. You gaze at the high ceiling as a crowd of students passes by you, chatting with each other in excited tones. They are excited about the new friends and classes they will be able to take this year and make lots of memories with. On the other hand, you worry about how much homework you’ll be getting and how hard the classes may be. High school may be a place for joyful memories, but it’s also full of many obstacles. These obstacles may seem daunting to rising students just stepping through the high school doors. That’s why the steps below have been designed as a survival guide for high school. 

  1. Know Who You Are

Sticking with yourself may be a challenge as you’re confronted with so many groups of people that you may want to stifle your opinions to belong with. However, you should stick with your weaknesses and strengths. Improve the things you are weak in by putting in the extra effort if possible, but accept what you can’t change otherwise. Don’t compare yourself to someone else. According to “Ten Tips to Help Survive the High School Years,” “you will be a much happier person if you do not constantly measure yourself and your attributes

Credit: Pavel Danilyuk

against those of other people. Play the cards you have been dealt and do some good along the way.” This assigns extra importance to knowing who you are as a person and what works best for you. Know and can’t do and you will deal with a much less stressful high school experience.

     2.  Good Study Habits

Many tests in high school involve knowing a lot of knowledge about the topic and require studying. Especially for higher level subjects, like AP classes, you will need to know how to study effectively for both tests and quizzes as well as the AP Exam at the end of the year. Not only will good study skills last you through high school, but also in higher-level education like college. Things like notetaking skills and the ability to find different methods of studying that cater to how you learn (whether you learn visually, kinesthetically, or auditorially) can be huge skills to get you through high school. Find a way that works for you whether it’s flashcards, making a song, helping teach someone, etc that helps you review the material you learn in class before tests and quizzes.

Credit: Golden Arrow

3. Time Management Skills

There may be a lot going on each week. From extracurricular activities to homework to that soccer game, there are many things that you will need to efficiently complete each day with a limited amount of energy. Time management skills will help extensively with this to avoid burnout and keep up with the deadlines of daily life. Use resources such as a planner or calendar app to guide your time management techniques.  If burnout does happen, take a step back and reflect on how you can improve your schedule to better accommodate your schedule.

    4. Pursue Your Interests

School shouldn’t be the only thing you focus your attention on. Extracurricular activities can help you disconnect from school for a little while and do something you’re passionate about that makes you happy. Not to mention,  colleges will not only look at grades but what you do in your free time to get an image of who you are when you apply. If you already have hobbies, take them one step further to make them extracurriculars! Start a passion project, volunteer, or join a program that involves your interests holistically.

 “Freshman year is a critical transition year. It’s the time when kids figure out how they learn best and what interests them,” said Dr. Cissy Cerise LaForge Ph.D., President of St. Scholastica Academy, Covington, LA.

 5.  Take Classes Suitable for Your Skillset

There are many classes you can take for both regular and advanced classes. Some of these, like AP courses, require a lot of coursework and can cause lots of stress. If you’re bad at math, maybe avoid taking AP Calculus BC. Simple course decisions like this can help you and improve your happiness. If you want to take a harder class, do it in 12th grade when your GPA doesn’t impact your chances for college. If your high school allows you to take summer courses or corresponding courses, you can take additional courses outside of school that can boost your GPA.

6.  Use Your Resources

Many students are scared to ask questions in class.  Whether it’s because the teacher is scary or intimidating to raise your hand in a class discussion and draw attention to yourself, many students neglect the most important resource of all: the teacher. Your teacher will appreciate the dedication and willingness to learn that you bring to her classroom if you ask for their help. If it’s too much to ask during class, ask questions one-to-one after class is over or out-of-school hours such as before or after school. Additionally, make sure to use class resources such as textbooks or study guides to help you get a better grip on what you’re learning. Taking good notes can help you out by giving you something to study further.

    7.  Be Responsible

Get a part-time job or volunteering job that helps you gain work experience and important organizational skills. Take responsibility for what you have to do and own up if you don’t stick to your word. One of the easiest ways to lose credibility is by being all talk and not doing what you say. Most importantly, don’t procrastinate on what you have to do. It can pile up really fast. Then you’re busy doing up to eight hours of work that could’ve been spaced better.

“Keep on top of your classes and don’t wait until the last minute to get things done,” says LaForge.


    8.  Get Interested in Careers

High school is a wonderful opportunity to explore different career paths or push yourself to gain experience

or knowledge for a career you’re already interested in. From opportunities like summer camps to internships, you can really hone down on what you want to do with your life. While there are plenty of people out there who already know what they want to do right in the beginning, it’s okay to not know about the future yet! Colleges are interested in how you pursue your interests- including career ones. These opportunities can be a good way to make friends with matching interests and lead to lots of helpful social connections.

    9.  Keep a School-Life Balance

School is as important as relaxation and social life. Make sure to save a weekend 

every now and then to hang out with friends or family. Having good relationships can help you with emotional support and help you out in unexpected ways in the long run. Take a day every month or so to have a “me” day that guarantees you time to spend just relaxing and valuable time to reflect on your life. Journaling can help with this. Having a balance between school and personal life is important to have earlier on and can help you later in life when there’s more to juggle in college.

    10.   Stay Healthy

Being healthy helps you to think clearer and stay focused much better. Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and wheat, and drink plenty of water. Limit foods with lots of sugar and caffeine and replace them with healthier options. Get some exercise every day. If you don’t play any active sports, take about 15 minutes each day to bicycle or go on a run before starting homework. If possible, go to the gym regularly and do cardio, agility, and strength training.  Make sure to get plenty of sleep. While it’s usually no easy task, try to sleep earlier the next evening if you miss a few hours of needed sleep one day. This can be easier to achieve if you start your homework earlier.

Overall, it can be a hard transition into high school. Make sure to accept mistakes and bounce back from them. One 80 on a test doesn’t stop you from gaining better grades if you study harder in the future. Learn from your mistakes and you’ll achieve a lot of your dreams both in school and in real life.