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Mar 13 2017
by Beatrice Li

8 Things I Wish I Knew in High School

By Beatrice Li - Mar 13 2017
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It's the final stretch. Your last paper is calling to you, but you have no inclination to do it. Probably because college is so close, yet so far. Maybe you're set on one school. Maybe you have no idea where you want to go yet. Maybe you don't really care where you go, as long as it's not high school anymore. No matter the situation, you're dreading the last few months of high school. 

While I personally also did not find my time in high school the most enjoyable, I've learned a few things during my first semester of college that I wish I knew in high school. If and only if I knew these things in high school, I could have enjoyed my time more, and been more insightful going into college. 

1. Your education is valuable. Your grades are not. 

Don't get me wrong: I don't mean that you should start slacking off, getting D's and F's on all of your assignments and not caring at all. What I mean is that your education and knowledge of certain material goes beyond your report card. Earning that A in World History didn't necessarily mean you understood everything – maybe you just got lucky on tests, or your teacher just adjusted your grades. Understand and remember that your actual knowledge of things is worth a lot more than just that A, B, C, D or F. 

2. Life goes on. 

You were told at one point that if you went to class unprepared, you would take horrible notes. If you took horrible notes, you would fail the test. If you failed the test, you would fail the class. Failing the class meant no college, no college meant no job and no job meant death. 

NEWS FLASH: THAT IS NOT TRUE! 

While it is discouraging to hear these things, understand that high school was like a practice test. If you did well, great. College is another chance to do it all over. If you didn't do well, take what you learned and go into college with a different mindset. I slacked off at times in high school, not realizing that I would take that in stride and go into college much more motivated. In fact, I became much happier in college and I have a much higher GPA than I had in high school. I wish I knew that my under 2000 out of 2400 score on the SATs did not mean failure, and that the few C's I earned in some classes were simply FINE. 

3. Failure is temporary; experience is forever affecting. 

You may feel pressured to stay up late for that one class that's too hard for you, but it isn't worth it. Instead, put your time and effort into the courses and activities that you care about. Those are what will shape you the most (and look best to college admission officers).

I recall those late nights studying for my AP Chemistry test at 1AM. I was so afraid to get another D on a test that I was willing to sacrifice my sanity to do well in such a tough science course, when I was set on going into college with a liberal arts major. Why? I wish I knew that getting a C in the course would not have meant anything. It was a bad cycle: I signed up for a class that was too difficult for me. Then, instead of coming to terms with that and either dropping the class or just accepting the less-than-desired grade, I sacrificed my sanity and what I actually cared about to do well in the class. Instead, I could have put in my time for things I cared more about, in order to stand out. Rather, I tried to go down the same path as others, which obviously does not work. You must find your own path, and live that life. As someone once said, "as long as you're a copycat, you will never be the best copycat".

4. Your teachers care about you. 

She hates me, and THAT'S WHY she didn't give me the A!

NO. 

Despite the hatred you may have for that one math teacher, your teachers care about you. Don't be afraid to approach them. Maybe they gave you a D on the test when you thought you aced it, but ask why. Your teachers are here to do much more than assign you an arbitrary letter grade. They are here to make you a better student, learner, leader and human being – all of which will help you thrive in college and beyond. 

5. Your friends care about you

Your peers may seem like competition. Your parents may think they're competing with you, and you and your peers may think you're competing with each other. In reality, you are all (and should be) building each other up. Why does it matter that I take one harder class than another student, if they have one more job than I do? The world (well, the four years) would be better if you all supported each other and realized that it is wasted energy when you try to tear each other down.

In college, you'll learn to cherish your connections: perhaps the person you met across the hall is the next Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama. I don't think Hillary or Michelle would care to support you in the future if you started tearing them down today. 

6. Your parents care about you. 

It wasn't until I got to college that I appreciated the years of my parents nagging me to eat my vegetables, do my laundry at least once every two weeks and get enough rest. Appreciate these people while you can still see them every day. Without them indoctrinating these values in you, you'd fall apart in college. Take it from someone who gets enough sleep and eats enough vegetables now without being told!

7. Lifestyle choices, not "dieting".

College may seem like the ideal place to eat your heart out – wherever and whenever. College (usually) includes free access to the gym, but who has time?

Try this – go to the gym. When I say "go to the gym", I mean "make time for it, even if it's very little". 

In high school, being forced to do P.E. during your first year or two seems like a drag. Later on, you don't have to do P.E., and your body still seems to be okay. Just wait. In college, many factors affect your weight and your health, such as stress, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption and other lifestyle changes. 

Do your body a favor and make exercise and eating right a priority. In addition, try not to go crazy with the freedom to eat whatever you want. Your body (and life) will thank you. 

8. Time is a social construct. 

Remember when summers wouldn't feel like summers anymore? When summer became an extension of school, where you would do pre- courses in order to enhance your learning of the actual course in school, so that even if you slacked off during school, you could still have some knowledge? 

Just remember that time is a social construct. Who said that you must spend your summers doing the one thing that everyone does? Spend your summers doing something more valuable to you. If you would like to spend your summer traveling the world instead, go ahead. Perhaps you will get an eye-opening experience that you could talk about to college admission officers and to others in the later years.

Upon entering college, no one will care if you spent that one summer taking a history course so that you could ace your AP history class. However, wouldn't it be cool to talk about that trip you took to this place that no one knows? Embrace your inner uniqueness!


After being in college for a few months, I can say that I've quickly forgot about many things in high school. I hope that after reading this, you will all take advantage of high school's hidden beauties, so that it may shape you in the years to come. Relax, enjoy, learn and get ready for the next chapter of life! 

Lead Image Credit: Beatrice Li

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Beatrice Li - Loyola Marymount University

Beatrice is a Sophomore at Loyola Marymount University majoring in Sociology, minoring in Studio Arts and Asian Pacific American Studies. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, painting, hiking, and exploring. She is a coffee addict and food enthusiast. Follow her at @beat_riice for non-writing content!

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