For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Jan 25 2016
by Beth Abbott

To the Class of 2020: Don't Graduate High School With Regrets

By Beth Abbott - Jan 25 2016

 Congratulations, Class of 2020! The conclusion of your high school career is approaching; can you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Just last year, I was in your position. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come since then, and a lot of that progress has to do with how I spent the last semester of my senior year.

By January, I had already committed to Barnard ED, so I was headed to the college of my dreams, but there was something missing: I desired the classic high school experience. You know, the one where you go on epic adventures and don’t give a damn about schoolwork. But the problem was, I didn’t have that. During the seven previous semesters, I was so focused on getting into college that I didn’t really allow myself to have fun and be a kid. I realized that I cared about missing out on those opportunities, and I didn’t want to graduate without having them. Knowing that this would be the last time where I could just live my life and have fun without real responsibilities to worry about, I decided to have a second semester to remember.

You might be asking the question, why does this matter to me? Well, here’s why: I want you to know that it is not too late to make the most out of high school. You are going to look back on your last semester of high school with either happiness, or regret. Don't let it be regret.

My first piece of advice to you is to make friends with someone that you didn’t interact with before. This is possible even in the smallest of schools (I did it in a grade of 35) and it will make all the difference in the world; why go on epic adventures if you don’t have people to share it with?

Another piece of advice: don’t challenge yourself to get an A on every single assignment. Now, don't take this as me saying that you should slack off and get C’s, D’s, and F’s, but it isn’t necessary to put so much stock in your schoolwork anymore. Focus on your social life and mental well-being. That extra honors or AP class is not necessary. Even if you’re still trying to get into college, don’t stress; chances are, the schools are looking at your first-semester grades, so as long as you maintain your current grades or slip a little bit, you should be fine.

Remember, the same does not go for extra-curricular clubs. Just because you are almost out of high school, it does not give you license to quit all of the clubs that you are in, especially since recruitment for the following year is a focus during the second semester. Don’t let your fellow members and advisors down; stay involved. It will also benefit you: it is another way to be social and interact with your peers before you graduate.

I know most of you are probably over the school spirit weeks and/or pep rallies at this point, but this will be the last time you can celebrate your high school. Throw yourself into the senior activities, like the design of senior sweatshirts, and, one of the most built-up traditions in American society, prom. Yes, I know that prom has a misogynist background, and that it is not all that it is cracked up to be, but the truth is, whether you like it or not, it is one of the capstones of your high school career. I can tell you right now that your prom will not be similar to the ones in the movies, where everybody forgets their differences and becomes best buddies for life. That’s not a realistic expectation for prom. It certainly didn’t happen at mine. But what I did notice is that everybody just coexisted; the drama from years’ past wasn’t important anymore. Enjoy yourselves, and spend time with the people that you care about. It might not be a prom straight out of a movie, but it’ll still be fun, and you’ll remember it for years to come.

The last semester of high school was, for me, the best one, because I had experiences I’ll never forget. I hope that you have the same experiences. You are never going to be a 17 or 18 year-old high school senior again; you only have one chance to do it right. With college worries (mostly) out of the way, what you do with your time is finally up to you. So don’t waste it, Class of 2020. Good luck!

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Beth Abbott - Barnard College

Beth Abbott is a freshman at Barnard College majoring in History. She writes historical/science fiction, and enjoys traveling, reading, photography, and watching ice hockey in her free time. You can check her out on Facebook.

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