Okay, so I’ll be 20-years-old by the end of this week, which means that I am now an Official Old Person. This also means that I get to give you advice, and you have to listen to it because I Know What’s Best and yada yada.
A lot of people on the “INTERNET” have been giving you impressionable young girls “ADVICE” on how to deal with high school. Mostly, this advice is pointless. Some of it is really good. But I’m going to cut the crap and stick to the stuff you need to know to not only make it through the day (gurl I’ve been there I know) but also to graduate on top without going crazy, because lord knows that Netflix Instant beats your Algebra homework 9 times out of 10.
1. Find a role model and cling to her/him like life itself. High school is easier if you’re able to look at someone like, say…Rory Gilmore, and then use that person to motivate yourself. I did very well in school academically, and I’m telling you that like 80% of that is because I looked up to Rory. There are plenty of great high school role models, though. Hermione Granger (for the frizzy-haired, nerdy types), Buffy Summers (female empowerment wooo), okay maybe I’m just listing my favorite fictional characters. I don’t know. Just find SOMEONE.
And if role models aren’t your ~thing, just watch a bunch of classic high school TV and movies: My So-Called Life, Clueless, Boy Meets World…Heathers? Just romanticize high school. Romanticize your own experience. This is step 1.
2. Teachers are friends, not food. Uhhh, unless you’re Shia LaBeouf? I mean, unless literally every single teacher at your school is Adolf Hitler. Spoiler alert: this is not the case. I can think of at least 10 teachers or administrators from my own high school who I considered my “friends.” Obviously, they weren’t my BFFFFFs, but I could hold a decent, intellectual conversation with them. And most importantly, they were SUPER UNDERSTANDING when I made mistakes. It’s a lot easier to get an extension on a paper or to get an extra credit opportunity from a teacher who likes you and knows that you genuinely want to succeed.
3. Argue with your teachers. But only if you’ve already established yourself as a nice, hard-working student. There was one teacher in particular I argued with all the time, and it was one of the best things I did in high school. He and I had very different political beliefs, so whenever he said something that I found objectional, I SPOKE UP. Now, there’s a fine line between respectful, lively disagreement and being “That Kid,” so test the water a little. But at the end of the day, your teachers are likely to respect you a whole lot more for showing interest.
4. Stick up for yourself. This is related to the previous two points, but it needs to stand on its own because reasons. Arguing with a teacher about politics or a character from a book is one thing. Arguing with a teacher about the organization of the class is another. Let me tell you about my government teacher, because I argued with her about grades and test questions ALL the freaking time. Like, I would find typos on her tests or she would give us a pointless assignment, so I would talk to her after class and say: “Hey, I understand that you can’t make exceptions, but this question was unfair and here are some reasons why.” Just approach with caution, be humble, and make a good case. They might not bend the rules for you, but if you level with them and behave like a logical human, there’s a good chance they might.
5. PRIORITIZE. Enough of this talk about teachers. Let’s talk about NETFLIX. I’m going to share with you the Secret to doing well in high school without going crazy. Ready? JUST DO THE BARE MINIMUM, BRO. I’m not telling you to slack off. I’m telling you to set standards for yourself and then do exactly what you need to achieve your goals. You want straight A’s? Okay, but you don’t need to get straight A+s. Study for the tests you need to study for. Turn in your assignments. Go to class. But if you can afford to zone out or to keep up with the Kardashians instead of studying, just do it. The trick is in how you prioritize. There will be classes that will kill you, so focus on those classes. This seems like common sense, but you have to make an effort to actually figure out what you need to do and what you can let slide. And when you do, it will make life so much easier.
6. But actually take stuff seirously and stuff. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. High school is hard, and the above tips and tricks of deception and deceit can only get you so far in life. It’s one thing to go easy on yourself sometimes and to bend the rules so you can have your cake and eat it, too, but you can’t get by on your natural charm forever. Do your homework, be nice to people, blah blah blah. If you’re trying your best and you’re still not doing as well as you’d like, that’s okay. Learn your strengths and stick with them. I was always really bad at history, so I made a point to study until I was like, in the fetal position on my bathroom floor at 1 in the morning.
7. Be spontaneous. Ignore all of my advice and skip class to wander the hallways. Break the dress code. Go skinny dipping on a school night. Run around on a roof and say things like, “I’m on a roof!” These are all things that I did, and I managed to graduate without ever getting detention ever. If you’re already following my “teachers are friends” advice (AKA THE GOLDEN RULE OF HIGH SCHOOL), you can probably get away with stuff if you get caught misbehavin’. While it’s important to do well in high school so you can like graduate and go to college in another state and be like LOL BYE TIME FOR LIFE, the best thing about high school is just doing stuff and being a stupid teenager sometimes. So do things! Be a stupid teenager sometimes! I mean, don’t be anasshole and vandalize or drive while you’re drunk (NOT COOL NOT COOL), but you’re allowed to have fun. YOLO.
–Taylor Brogan, Contributing Editor