How To Survive High School
Got the high school blues? We’ve all been there. Between demanding classes, long after-school activities, and a confusing social scene, high school can be draining. At times, it can even feel like sensory overload. But if you keep the right mindset and take control of your time, it’s nothing you can’t handle. And even those adults who you’d swear were kidding about those four years “flying by” might turn out to be (a little bit) right. Whether you’ve got senioritis or the freshman jitters, we’ve got you covered with all the necessary high school survival tips.
1Stock your locker
A well-supplied locker is the key to solving any of life’s little problems that are thrown at you from a.m. to p.m. Snag a small locker mirror to check your teeth after lunch, Advil for a quick headache cure, deodorant for stressful test days, and power snacks to get you through the late afternoon. Just knowing that you’ve got a quick fix stashed in your locker makes getting through the day so much smoother.
2Join an after-school community
The classroom is a good start to making new friends. But after school activities allow for much more talking time. From the onset, join a group or team connected with your high school. Maybe Basketball, musical theatre, or environmental club—if there’s not a group for you, then start one! Find like-minded people who share your interests, and you’ll immediately broaden your social circle.
3Find friends outside of school
Securing a community outside of campus will totally save you when you’re going through the ups and downs of high school social life. Find friends you can depend on through a recreational sports league, a scout troop, or a weekend art class, for instance. It’s those friends that you can turn to when you need a break from the day-to-day school routine.
4Breathe in, breathe out
Meditation isn’t just a trendy activity these days. And you certainly don’t need to pay for a class. Try a meditation app or a free online recording to guide you through a session. Take a break. Just breathe. There’s no reason to rush through it. Your mind and body will thank you. And for once, your only assignment is to not think about homework.
5Be your own nutritionist
There’s no way you can manage band practice, science experiments, and lacrosse try-outs while your body’s running on breakfast muffins and French fries. Sometimes, the back and forth between school, extracurricular commitments, family time, and homework can take a toll on your body. Go for a colorful diet, plan ahead, and pack filling snacks like trail mix, yogurts, and hummus wraps that will fuel you from one event to the next.
6Make a daily to-do list
Before you go to bed, write down a few things that you’ll need to do the following day. Keep a stack of Post-its by your bed, or a small notebook for making lists. This short moment of organization will allow you to glide through the next day without a fuss. There’s no way that biology exam is going to sneak up on you when you’re in the routine of thinking ahead.
7Set aside parent time
It’s only a matter of days before mom and dad are on your back again—“You never talk to us!” they say. Make time for some conversation with the ’rents on the daily. Chat them up at the dinner table, while packing a lunch in the morning, or during the drive to school. Turn down the music and allow for an exchange. They’ll be grateful, and you’ll be glad to maintain that trust between you and your parents.
8Try new skills
Are you likely to teach yourself to mold clay from Youtube videos? Or become a professional vocalist by listening to Spotify? Probably not. So take advantage of extracurricular activities offered by your school and community—activities you can test out with in-person instruction. You’ve never considered Taekwondo? Or photography class? Who knows, it might become your new thing.
9Know when to quit
High school is a perfect time to test out new talents. So track team wasn’t your favorite? No problem. Don’t stick with an activity just because it’ll look good on your college application. Do what you like, and accept that quitting is okay. There’s no reason to devote hours out of your day to an extracurricular activity you dread. Allow yourself the saved time for a new hobby. Or, of course, a nap.
10Mix up your lunch crew
Nobody likes a clique, but social groups are nearly unavoidable in the high school cafeteria. Rather than sitting with the same friends every day, change up you typical mid-day conversation by flocking to other crews. Sit with the girl on your debate team or that guy from drama class. Being a lunch table floater is the best way to branch out.
11Claim a calm day
Reserve one day each weekend for yourself. Maybe dance practice consumes your Saturday mornings, and homework takes over the rest of the afternoon. Then, secure Sunday as your chill day. Don’t schedule any responsibilities. That way you can finish up your studies and still have time to relax on the couch before gearing up for another week ahead.
12Save where possible
Maybe you’ve got a part-time restaurant job or spend your Friday evenings babysitting. But if you’re too strapped for time to apply to a part-time job, make some extra cash when you can. Offer to do chores around the house, dog walking, or plant sitting for neighbors. A few dollars earned here and there allows you the freedom to spend your own money. Then, that Friday movie date is completely doable.
The whole “This teacher hates me” mentality can be a tough one to shake. Solidify your relationship with teachers in the classroom by being awake, punctual, and responsible. That’s it! A low test score is exactly what it is. If you can stay positive without getting down about whichever teacher has it out for you, then the whole class will fly by faster.
14See the big picture
Think you’ll never use anything from chemistry class in your life? Well… if you’re dreaming of being a musician or a writer, chances are, you’re right. Some subjects might not apply to your future career (cough, calculus, cough). But if you view a difficult course as a brain exercise rather than the biggest determiner of your future, then the pressure for a perfect score fades away. Push through the classes that rub you the wrong way, remembering that a single course doesn’t dictate your future.
15Keep a journal
Feeling overwhelmed? Let it out on paper. Sometimes our best friends hear a little bit too much about our problems. Journaling once a day is a healthy habit. And personal thoughts are hilarious to read months or years later. What in the present moment feels like a HUGE deal will totally amuse you down the road in your own written account. And you’ll feel a total release when letting the words flow out.
16Discover an escape place
Between school and home, sometimes it can feel like there’s always someone on your back. Like the English teacher who’s asking about your final paper. And your dad, who won’t let up about cleaning your room. Find a third place, between school and home, where you can carve out space for yourself. Try a smoothie shop, a book store’s coffee shop, or yoga class, for starters. Hanging out alone is totally underrated. If you need a second to just chill out, flip through a magazine, or brainstorm your next project idea, a neutral space is the perfect escape plan.
17Pair up to study
Study group? Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s bound to turn into a hangout session with too many people talking at the same time. But find that one classmate who you work well with, and pair up for a more productive meet-up. You’ll both be better prepared for class, and you’ll save time for the activities you love.
18Forget the haters
While you’re in the thick of it, high school can feel unending. Block out negativity by surround yourself with friends. If your go-to crew doesn’t get caught up in the grapevine drama, then they’ll lift you up rather than drag you down.
19Freeze before you judge
Is it impossible to get along with everyone? Probably. But if you’re careful not to judge others, you’ll run into fewer problems with cliques. Avoid the drama queens and channel your own positivity.
20Go ahead and geek out
Who cares if Mathletes aren’t “cool”? Or if your friends don’t want to join the debate team? You choose what you do outside of class. If a club is grabbing your attention, then follow your own lead. Don’t let others’ opinions determine how you spend your time. This four-year high school career is yours. Own it!