In School Life, Teens

Surviving High School

Surviving High School

High school is both an exciting and scary experience. It is usually during this time that kids learn more about independence, and begin to spread their wings as young adults in making decisions on their own. From lasting friendships to career possibilities, children typically discover that high school is a place of major development. Although growing is good, it can be intimidating for kids who are unsure of how to get involved in the high school experience. Herein is your guide to Surviving High School!

The Ninth Grade: Freshman Year

The First Day

The first day of school was fun when you were in elementary and middle school. High school, however, is different. You are more than likely attending a new school with people that you do not know. Even if a few friends from middle school are coming with you, there is a possibility that you will not remain as close if they attended summer school while you vacationed with family and friends. Upon arriving on your first day, it is best to play it cool.

Do not be so anxious to obtain new friends that you latch on to the first person who gives you a friendly greeting. At the same time, do not be so anti-social that no one even bothers to acknowledge your presence. In all frankness, you should do more observing on the first day of school than bonding. You should not necessarily expect to make a friend for life upon entering the school because such linkage rarely takes place immediately.

In addition to friendships, the first day is also reserved for academics. Although you may be familiar with class periods and lockers since such activity was practiced in middle school, the courses in high school are more intense. Whereas you were taking Algebra I in the eighth grade, Geometry will be introduced in the ninth grade. English courses will also be more involved with the teacher requiring you to read several chapter books in a single semester.

Speaking of semesters, you will find that the syllabus in high school is formatted to fit the sixteen weeks that make up a semester. Your grade will typically depend on how well you keep up with the scheduling, and the amount of participation you choose to give in class. Although subjective courses such as English tend to place more weight on a student’s participation, objective courses like Math and Science usually emphasize the importance of scoring well on tests and completing homework assignments.

In any case, course expectations are broken down by percentages. In order to do well, you must show the teacher that you are a well-rounded student who completes assignments in a timely manner and contributes to discussions in class. Understanding such course expectations on the first day of school will help in your goal of school survival.

Extracurricular Activities: Sports

Many coaches fail to inform ninth grade students of the importance of participating in extracurricular activities. Not only does such engagement build the student’s self-esteem, but it also establishes certain qualities that colleges and employers look for in later years.

Few teammates want to play with a sore loser. Many view an individual who cannot gracefully cope with the fact that he has been defeated as someone with unrealistic expectations of perfection. Employers do not typically hire someone with such expectations because they are not capable of taking criticism. When you join one of the school’s many sports teams, you are taught how to lose gracefully. You are also taught how to engage in competition and persevere through uncomfortable situations. These are also qualities that employers look for in a candidate.

In later high school years, colleges seek to recruit those individuals who have put additional time into improving their craft on the field. High school seniors who have played football since freshman year often receive scholarship offers from universities. You can essentially be setting yourself up for a full financial ride through college by committing to an extracurricular activity, so do not hesitate to sign up during exhibition week

Extracurricular Activities: Clubs

Some students are not the athletic type but desire to survive school by doing more than simply attending class and going home. Clubs are the perfect match for such individuals since they allow kids to be a part of their school community without having to throw or kick a ball down the field.

Glee clubs along with academic groups are the perfect fit if you are looking to be artistic and witty. Academic clubs, in particular, afford you the opportunity to give back to the school community by tutoring students who are struggling with certain subjects. Even if you cannot tutor students, you can certainly share your creativity through the glee club.

The Tenth Grade: Sophomore Year

Dances and More Fun

Surviving high school is not all about academics and observing. During your sophomore year, you will learn what it means to have fun.

The homecoming dance is one of the most popular events in high school, and for good reason. Many 15-year-olds have never had the pleasure of dressing up and going to a formal event with a date. For many teen boys, the homecoming dance is their first time asking a girl out. Although some put a lot of energy into preparing for the dance, it is important to remember that homecoming is a fun event. At the end of the night, you want to be able to say that you had a blast with your partner without complaining about plans that did not come to fruition.

In addition to homecoming, there are several other events at school that can capture your attention during the sophomore year. Pep rallies and lunch gatherings afford you many opportunities to have fun with your friends.

Back to Academics

Although you are having fun, it is important not to allow the thrill to overtake you. Remember that at the end of the year you want to see good grades on your report card to avoid the dreaded summer school. Whereas attending school during summer months when transitioning from middle to high school is considered somewhat cool, being forced to repeat a course that you should have done well in during the regular school year is simply embarrassing.

Your sophomore year is the perfect time to develop a balance between fun and more serious things in life. Obtaining such stability will help you survive high school when college applications and standardized test deadlines become important.

The Eleventh Grade: Junior Year

Thoughts of College

Speaking of college, your junior year is when you should begin considering whether or not you want to attend college. If you find that you do want to pursue higher education, then you should consider what type of school you may want to attend. In many cases attending a community college can provide the education needed to have a great career. Of course, there is always the four-year university option, which can offer more opportunities in life.

Although parents and teachers encourage youth to attend some sort of college, you do not have to pursue higher education to thrive in the workforce. You can easily find a job in high school and gain enough experience to be promoted to higher classifications. There are numerous stories of individuals who began working at 16-years-old and became executives in later years.

Finding A Job

If you do decide to enter the workforce without attending college, it is best to begin searching for a job during your junior year of high school. Although many students find jobs after graduating from high school, full-time work is difficult to find without any experience. Securing part-time employment while in school will allow you to earn your own money and build much-needed experience that you will need after high school survival.

Even if you are planning to pursue higher education in later years, you should still search for a job that will support those ambitions. Although valuable, college education is very costly. Having a job will help cut down on the expenses and allow you to be more independent.

Paying for College

Those considering college should begin to search for scholarships during their junior year of high school. Several websites that cater to students searching for college money provide a list of organizations that pay well for essays. Many organizations only pay $1,000 to winners, but some give as much as $50,000 to students who submit well-crafted pieces. Searching for scholarships during your junior year will ensure that you have enough money to at least pay for your books when you get to college.

Courses and College Admissions Tests

Surviving high school becomes a matter of planning for the future one you get the eleventh grade, which is why you should pay close attention to academics during this crucial year. Even if you do not plan to attend college, you do not want to fail a class during the final two years of high school and risk not graduating on time.

This is especially true if you plan to attend college. Many universities frown on transcripts that show mediocre grades during the eleventh and twelfth grades. Admission representatives often view such performances as a forecast of what is to come in the future, and will opt to not take the risk on average-scoring students. You need to do well on both coursework and college admissions tests to be accepted to the college of your choosing.

Speaking of tests, The SAT and ACT are typically what admissions offices use to evaluate your potential to do well at their school. Whereas the ACT has several parts, including Science and History, the SAT only has Math and English portions. Math on the aptitude exam includes everything from basic addition and subtraction to the more complex Algebra II. The English section tests basic vocabulary and essay writing skills.

The Twelfth Grade: Senior Year

College Applications

Make sure that you are aware of the deadlines for college admissions and apply accordingly. You should fill out every portion of the application thoroughly, and take time to craft a good essay.


You have worked hard and now it is time to sit back and relax. Prom is the main event in high school that nearly every senior attends. You do not have to put all of your energy into the dance, but should give it more attention than you would homecoming. Save your allowance or paychecks because a successful prom promises to be expensive. You will need formal wear and a limousine to make a good showing, and should definitely plan to be out past midnight.

In many instances, prom serves as a rite of passage. Parents strive to enforce curfew throughout high school, but allow their children to stay out late on prom night because they are nearing adulthood. As an adult, you will be expected to make sound choices that will positively impact society.


Remember to wear your cap and gown, and smile wide for family and friends who are thrilled about your surviving high school. Congratulate friends who also graduated, and get ready for the world.

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