Success in High School Is Up to You
Yup. It’s September. Most teens have been back in school for a few weeks already. Many have made promises that this year will be different. This year will be more successful and less stressed. If you are one of the millions who’ve made such a promise, maybe a few tips from the experts will help you think about how to succeed.
Set a goal: It’s not too early to think about what you want to do in the future. You are laying the foundation for it now.
If you want to enter the trades, find out what you need to do to prepare yourself. Unfortunately, many high schools have all but eliminated classes in trades like auto mechanics and carpentry, but you can still get some experience. Think about getting a part time job that will help you decide if such work is for you. Visit local trade schools to explore what they offer and what they expect of applicants.
If you think you want to go to college, ask yourself why. Then sit down with your parents to talk about what you need to do to get there academically and financially. Do remember that it isn’t necessary to go to an elite college to prepare yourself for a career that requires a degree. There are lots of excellent schools out there besides the Ivy Leagues.
Undecided about your direction? Talk to your school guidance program about gap year options that will give you new and different experiences before committing to a career path. Making a plan for what happens after graduation will give you focus and will reduce your stress.
Resist peer pressure: This is a tough one. Peer pressure can actually work positively or negatively. On the positive side, wanting to fit in with your friends can influence you to get involved with a sport or a political cause or to do your best on a term paper. But that same desire to be accepted can influence you to blow off school work or to get involved with risky behaviors you know aren’t really a good idea. Yes, you want to have fun. But learning how to be true to yourself and to make the choices that make sense for your long term goals is part of becoming an adult.
Get Enough Sleep: You. Need. Sleep. And plenty of it. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need between 8 – 10 hours of sleep a night. Yes. That’s right. 8 – 10 hours. 87% of American high school students are chronically sleep-deprived. In fact, 20% of kids are trying to get by on only 5 hours a night?
Just because most teens in the U.S. are walking around chronically exhausted doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. The consequences are huge. It has a negative effect on both your physical health and your mental functioning and well-being. A sleepy brain has a harder time learning. Concentration and memory are affected. You are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression and even suicidal thinking. If you are an athlete, sleep deprivation affects sports performance and increases your risk of injury. An occasional short night probably won’t hurt but if it becomes more than occasional, reset your schedule so your body and mind get the restorative sleep needed to succeed.