Letter to Younger Self: What High School Actually Taught Me

Hey guys so I’m about to go into my first year of university so clearly I can’t really give advice on the whole university thing, but one thing I do know is high school. I’ll start off by saying, it wasn’t the best nor was it the worse time ever. There were defs good times and times I’d rather forget but what all of that has taught me was how to be a better me. Most of this advice is stuff I didn’t truly learn until grade 12 but is stuff I think should be known in grade 9.

1. Learn to laugh at yourself: This is probably the most important skill that I didn’t learn until my final year. When something bad or embarrassing happens if you laugh about it, it makes makes it not a big deal rather than blowing things out of proportion. If someone “roasts” you don’t take it to heart, have a sassy come back, people will laugh and the one who said those things to you will look like the dumb one. Alternatively kill them with kindness. Yes it’s easier said than done but try it, it works.

2. Learn don’t memorize: okay I’m not telling you not to memorize your vocabulary but what I am saying is you shouldn’t my be there just for the grades. Yes there really importnant but you’ll be better off in life if you study to understand rather than memorize. This skill is extremely useful in post secondary and when you get a job. Also secret: you retain more information by learning it than you do by memorizing words on a page.

3. Find what works for you: I never studied even for exams until grade 11 but even at that it was minamal. And even though at the time I didn’t need to in order to get straight A’s, I regret it because later on when it really matters you won’t know what works best for you. So use the easy classes (or ones you don’t study for) as a trial run for those crucial classes.

4. Your not the best but that’s okay: I don’t think I really thought I was the best even in elementary school but I noticed a lot of students learn this the hard way. Coming from smaller elementary schools there were a lot of people who were “the best” at something  wether it was academics, sports or the arts. In high school there’s always going to be soemone better and that’s okay! Not everyone can be the best. Just because your not the best doesn’t mean your not great. So keep working hard😊.

5. It’s okay to cry, sometimes. I get some people are sensitive but trust me your life will be easier if your not the one who crys to the teacher when you don’t get the grade you wnated. One teacher I had multiple times always says “If you didn’t get the grade you want, it’s highly probable that I didn’t get the work I wanted”. Yes some subjects are harder and yes not everyone is gonna get all A’s, which brings me to the next point.

6. Get help early on:  don’t wait till a week before the exam to get a tutor or ask the teacher for help. Ask me how I know, I did this. (Got a tutor 2 days before my chem exam when really I should’ve got help months before). Most, if not all teachers, will sit down and help you (or give your access to resources that can) but only if you go ahead of time. Don’t come the day before the test and say “I don’t get any of this”. Trust me they hate that.

7. Show the effort aka halo effect: so early on, like the first day of class, be a great student, be prepared, on time and participate. Make sure you hand in assignments on time and ask questions. This way the teacher precieves you as a good student so if you mess up or need extra time on something the teacher is way more willing to give you that. Also keep in mind they can put what ever grade in at the end of the year so if you are consisantly trying your best they can bump up your grade. This is especially importnant when you want to apply to post secondary and scholarships.

8. Get involved and enjoy yourself: high school offers a lot more opportunities and a wider range of clubs and sports, so find something you like and meet new people who share similar interest.

9. Take control of your education: if this means you don’t sit by your friends in class then don’t. Remember social life is important but at the end of the day your education is equally if not a little more important.

10.Organize: this one is obvious.  Find what works for you, a planner or an app. Remember teachers aren’t there to babysit you, they won’t chase you down if you don’t hand in an assignment and if they hand it back before yours is in then you get a 0%. Also remember there are penalties for late submissions, at my school in grade 9 and 10 it was 5% a day and grade 11 and 12 it was 10% a day.

11. Don’t procrastinate!! Lol I’m still working on this one but seriously don’t do it.

12. Don’t be afraid to let go of negativity. This is also one of the most important thing I have learned these last 4 year. Honestly it wasn’t really until February of my senior year. I slowly started to become closer with friends who were actually good friends to me, I have always been in one sided friendships so I really didn’t know diffrently but I became close to 3 girls and we did Interact together (want more on rotary check out this post), something I would’ve never done if I was still in that toxic friendship from before. Then in April after going to RYLA I was so into meeting new people and even in the summer after I graduated I am continuing to meet new people and I’m so thankful I let the bad ones go. Remember everything happens for a reason. (Next Wednesday I have a post Letting go: Toxic Friendships)

13. Be open to try new things. This can be either be meeting new people or trying out new things like a new sport or a new club. High school is a great time to find what you like. Maybe you’ll find a new passion that you never thought of before.

Thanks for reading, hope your day is as amazing as you are.

~Tori Scherle~

Bonus: you will eventually find where your meant to be so don’t give up.

Photo creds: insta: @nik_saunders and @Simplicity_Phot 

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I'm 22 years old and starting my Masters in Biology at the University of Ottawa in September. I just recently graduated with my Honours BSc - Biology. I love photography, baking, plants & adventures!

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