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5 things I wish I had done differently in high school

As I get ready to start my junior year of college, I’ve been reminiscing about the adventures that were a part of my high school experience. I went to an amazing school that definitely played a role in shaping who I am today. The people I met there taught me how to be a good leader, a hard worker and a powerful woman. Although there are so many positives about my experience, there are definitely a few things that I wish I had done differently.  

1. I wish I had taken the SAT more seriously
Since middle school, I had dreamed of going to a certain college. I had a perfect plan that would lead me to living a successful life that was everything I had ever wanted. I would go to this school, double major in fashion merchandising and journalism. I would study abroad for a year in London. This plan all came to a grinding halt when I got waitlisted—and then rejected—from the only school I really wanted to go to.

When I contacted the admissions counselor and asked why I hadn’t been accepted, he told me that although my GPA, college essay and letters of recommendation were all good, it was my SAT scores that led them to their decision not to admit me. I felt defeated and crushed. Looking back on it now, there’s no one else to be mad at but myself. Even though I still found a school that I like—and have met some amazing people along the way—there’s still a part of me that wonders what would have happened if I had worked way harder at studying for the SAT.

I’m not one to say that your test scores define you, but the college process can be messy and unfair. What I learned far too late is that you get out what you put in. Although it’s boring, stressful and a burden to do those practice problems and the PSAT, your hard work *will* pay off when you get that acceptance letter to your dream school. Here are some study tips that might help you out. 

2. I wish I hadn't cared what other people thought of me 
I went to an all-girls school, which can be a warzone of comparison. Every day, I would see girls with clear skin and perfectly straight hair—and I was so jealous that I didn’t look like them. I was so focused on what these girls thought of me, that I couldn’t immerse myself in academics, sports and clubs. I was so scared of failing or being judged, that I lived my days trying to be like everybody else.

Looking back, I wish I had done things that I had wanted to do. Maybe I would have tried out for the tennis team (even though I’m awful at tennis and don’t know the rules of the game) or auditioned for the school musical—there are so many battles that my insecurities won. If I could give you any piece of advice, it would be to do the things that make you happy, regardless of whether or not you're "a natural." Comparison is the enemy of happiness, which is something I wish I had realized way earlier. Check out these tips to help you stop comparing yourself to others.

3. I wish I had appreciated my family more
During high school I was definitely appreciative of how hard my mom worked to send me to such an amazing school, but there are so many things that she did for me that I never thanked her for.

Being away from home for two years now has made me realize just how much my family has done for me, and how their sacrifices have helped me achieve my goals. Think about how your family helps you out—maybe there's someone who makes your lunch every day, drops you off at school, or leaves work to drop off that *thing* you always forget. I bet they would love to hear an out-of-the-blue, heartfelt "thank you."

4. I wish I had taken advantages of the resources my school provided me with 
Your school doesn't just have to be the place where you learn algebra or get feedback on an essay you wrote for English class. It can also be a place that helps you grow as a person.

One thing that I realize looking back is that there were so many people at my school who were invested in helping me—I just had to do my part and seek them out. So, make sure that you ask your guidance counselor about internship opportunities, and that you listen to announcements about everything from peer tutoring to soccer tryouts. If you take advantage of these opportunities now, you'll get to know the real you and you'll be ahead of the curve for college.

5. I wish I had more faith in myself
Through my two years of college, I have started to realize that I am smart and capable of doing well on a test, writing a great essay or getting an A on an oral exam in French. It took me a while to get to that point, because I always seemed to let my anxiety get in the way.

Throughout high school, I let my anxiousness and fear of failing get in the way of succeeding. Although my grades were good, getting to that point came with a lot of stress. I now realize that I could have excelled if only I had gotten over my fear of raising my hand in class…and gone into exams without the idea that I was going to fail…had spoken up in that group presentation instead of staying silent. I have now realized that it is *so* important to believe in yourself and your capabilities. Even if you don’t get an amazing grade on that one test or paper, knowing that you worked hard and put everything you could into it will still make it a rewarding experience. 

Although I wish I had done these things differently in high school, these truths have taught me how to be a better student, leader and overall person. I'm also grateful for the mistakes that I have made (I mean it!). Because of these setbacks, I have grown as a student and a young woman. I now work harder in school, raise my hand, participate in classes and step outside of my comfort zone. 

I encourage you to learn from my "I wish" list. You only get one shot at high school, so make it count!

What is the first thing you'll do once you step outside of your comfort zone? 

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by Molly Beidleman | 8/7/2019
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