My High School Advice:
1. If you’re going to take a zero period, take it as an underclassman
Trust me on this, life gets busy as a junior and senior with exams, extracurriculars , and college applications, so you definitely won’t want a zero period on top of everything. If you want to squeeze in an extra class, load up in your early years. This will make taking six classes feel easier, and also extra classes are typically more available to freshmen (most APs don’t offer zero periods, etc.).
2. Try the harder class and drop it later
Never miss out on taking a class because you’re worried about it being too hard. I often found that what people said about the class was often different from how it ended up actually being. You can also talk to the teacher about your concerns. For example, many people told me that AP Physics would be terribly difficult, but I found it to be one of the most rewarding classes that I took at M-A and I’m glad I followed through with it. If you try it and it does end up being too much, drop it! Just make sure you know when the drop deadline is.
3. Make class friends
Get to know people in your classes. You’re going to spend 180 days with them and enjoying their company will help you long term. Create group chats via text or social media, and reach out if you need help on homework or studying (everyone probably has the same question anyway). It will make group projects less intimidating, and it’s helpful if you’re absent. Also, it improves overall class culture.
4. Apply yourself in school (so you can do less outside of it)
Pay attention in class!! Ask questions and get clarification. If teachers give you work time, actually do your work. Do what you can to digest the information the first time. You’re in class anyway, so make the most of it because this gives you less work to do outside of class. For example, focus in math, take the notes, do the homework, and by the time you get to the test, studying is just a final step, not the end-all-be-all. Make school easier for yourself by maximizing your time at school instead of wasting your time outside of it.
5. Don’t spend time working on college applications until you actually have to
For freshman through junior year, focus on spending your time doing things that you truly enjoy and can write about in your applications later. It is much, much easier to write those essays if you have something meaningful to talk about rather than labor for months trying to make a great essay out of nothing. In my experience, I didn’t start my CommonApp essay until September of my senior year, and I was totally fine.
6. Visit the College and Career Center
Specifically in senior year during college application season. If you’re not applying to college, the CCC can help you find jobs, scholarships, develop other post-highschool plans, or simply balance your high school life. I specifically recommend going to the Wednesday morning office hours before school or during Flex. Ms. Ngyuen and Mr. Barraza can help you with any questions you have, and the essay editing is great too. They know M-A’s acceptance rates to different colleges, provide necessary school information (like class size) for filling out your applications, and can help you build your list of schools. Their help is FREE and very conveniently located right on campus. Also, seeing other students there will remind you that you are not alone during stressful times.
7. Remember that who you are outside of school is just as important
If school isn’t your thing, that’s okay. Your grades, the classes you take, and your test scores are nothing compared to the type of classmate, friend, and individual that you are. Make a conscious effort to build skills instead of getting caught up in the numbers. Find activities and people outside of M-A that you enjoy, while also remembering that your time in high school is limited and the best thing to do is to make the most of it.