If I could do it all over again, I would. Many adults would. Our teenage years were the most wonderful, free, opportunistic years of our lives. Yet, we don’t realize that until they are behind us, never to be repeated. So, in hopes that each young person maximizes the potential of their teen years, I decided to share things I found the most valuable.
There is something here for everyone. Whether you are part of the popular crowd, geek squad or a loner, high school gives you something. There are rallies, games, clubs, honors programs…everything you need to prepare you for life after school while adding fun to the mix. However, it’s still school. In between the drama and friendships, sometimes forget why we are there. To learn.
High school provides the foundation for what you will study in college, the basics. If you don’t pay attention to what you are taught at this level, you will be behind the curve later. This knowledge builds upon itself. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of the free education you are provided by paying attention, studying and asking for help when needed.
Remembering my days in high school, I can recall how many students did not take advantage of the FREE resources at their disposal that would have benefited them today. Guidance counselors, tutors, teachers, honors programs and extracurricular activities/after school programs. When you graduate, your window of opportunity closes and these resources are either as an expense to you or not as readily available, if at all.
Regretfully, I didn’t realize how essential to my future success this was. Freshman, Sophmore and even some of my Junior year, I was too busy having a ball with my girls and enjoying the attention of boys to monitor my G.P.A. All I concerned myself with was passing. Reading, English and History were no issue, but Science and the Maths…it was whatever for me.
Then the college preparation talks began and I started looking at the colleges that I wanted to attend as well as their eligibility requirements. The required G.P.A. was a 3.0, and that was just to be considered. Do you think minimum or average have the best chances? Definitely not. To get where I wanted to go I had to stand out, show promise.
Competition for good universities, the ones that corporations and firms look at when they hire you in your field, are extremely competitive. They know what they mean to your future and you have to demonstrate that you are willing to work hard for what they offer you. Your G.P.A. has to be your number one priority from the second you step into high school until the second you graduate (This holds true for your college years as well). Keep track of it and protect it. If you are struggling with a class, get a tutor or let your teacher know.It is also a great idea to inquire as to whether there are any extra credit assignments that you can complete to boost your grade. I do not advise allowing yourself to leave a class with anything lower than a B.
Extra Curricular Activities/Community Service
Just as with everything else in life, it’s the extra mile that you take that will stand out. Once you realize what you want to do as a career you should research what programs your school and community has to prepare you. In high school I wanted to work on some level of government.
I joined Model U.N. for the international functions and I joined the Mayors Youth Advisory Council (YAC). Both gave me exposure as to what these forms of government agencies did on a daily basis. It helped me determine which I felt better suited for. More importantly, when I applied to college and was able to put this experience on my resume, it exhibited my passion, motivation and dedication to the field of study.
Some programs are also designed to help you get ahead. Honors and AP classes can save you from having to take the subjects as core classes in college. In addition, there are weekend and summer college prep programs that give you college credit for participating. I attended Norfolk State University’s Upward Bound program from my eighth grade to senior year and benefited greatly from it, both socially and academically.
Colleges love to see students who are active in school and in the community. Not only does it give you points when applying for colleges, it is enriching for you as an individual. I did a lot of community service that did not pertain to my field of study. Make A Difference Day, feeding the homeless, tutoring elementary school children after school. It helps you to develop as a person with a sense of responsibility and humanity for others. Look at what your school and community have to offer and consider what you want to do with your life when you graduate.
What can you engage in now that will make the transition smoother for you? These are the years that set your future up for success or challenge. Make the right moves!
**Invite Amani Jackson out to speak with your students regarding college preparation!