By Zachary J. Nine
At times, trying to get through a day of high school can be tough – let alone surviving four entire years!
With a long list of various activities going on at once, sometimes high school students may find themselves buried under homework, sports, friends, a relationship, a job and family. How is a person supposed to balance all of that at one time? What’s the secret?
Well, there is none.
However, there are a number of things a student can do to maximize his or her success and get the most out of those four glorious years we call high school. As for me, I know how a stressful schedule can feel. I run varsity cross country and track, I’m the drum major of my band, and I’m a pep band member. I also am the vice-president of our executive student council, a member of the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, a member of National Honor Society, and, obviously, a member of the MHSAA Student Advisory Council. I’m also involved with our school’s Mock Trial team. Not to mention (humbly), I’m ranked number one in my class by grade-point average and currently work at McDonalds. In my free time, I have recently taken up a role as a chemistry tutor as well.
And so, the point is that these tips work, tried and true, and they just may work for you!
1. Stay active
“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” - Henry David Thoreau
Ever notice how the really busy, active students who help out all of the time and volunteer constantly are not the ones getting into trouble? That is because they are simply too busy. A person doing illegal and questionable things has WAY too much time on his or her hands. Being bored can sometimes lead to trouble.
Not only that, but who knows what kinds of things a person will enjoy without actually trying them? Maybe you decide to join Mock Trial and it inspires you to be a lawyer. Get out there and try something new! Broaden your horizons! The more groups and clubs you are a part of, the more attractive your resumes will be for colleges and jobs as well.
"First comes thought; then organization of that thought into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality.” - Napoleon Hill
If you are already as busy as you can possibly be, or at least as busy as you’d like to be, the next step to success would be to organize. Everything.
Your locker at school, your room, your car, and even your weekly plans should be organized and cleaned up. Organization leads to efficiency, which can help you get through a busy week. It also will help ease some of the stress by preventing you from losing things all of the time or misplacing important items. A clean environment will lead to a clean state of mind, and an organized world will help you save just a little bit of much-needed time.
To help get you started, I recommend a planner of some type. I personally use my phone, so I have it all the time, but a traditional paper planner is just as good. Writing down important dates will help you organize a busy schedule and is a good way to gently remind you of what is going on in the week coming up.
“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” - Stephen Covey
After organization should be prioritization. Time management is crucial and vital to success in high school. Homework, friends, family, girlfriends/boyfriends, jobs, sports… it seems as though the list may never end, which is why it is important to put first things first.
Which is more important: Going to that really super cool party on Friday night or writing that essay that’s due in English class? Of course it’s the latter, although it may not seem like the “coolest” choice. However, “you” time is still very important and should be prioritized as well. I typically play a video game for about an hour after school everyday. This helps me wind down from very long days and gives me a break from schoolwork and household chores.
When two events are vying for your time and you experience role conflict, it’s best to take a step back and look at the big picture. You should figure out which role will help you out the most in the future (in the above example, the role of student), and then fulfill that role first. Prioritize your most important roles, and don’t worry about the small stuff.
4. Be a hard worker
“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence”. - Colin Powell
As a member of many, many groups, I see a wide variety of people. Student Council is a great example of this. I see members who want to help with every single event and constantly are showing up to every volunteer opportunity they can. I also observe members who sit in the back row during every meeting, usually do not say a word, and show up only to events they absolutely have to attend.
Do NOT be one of those people. It’s clear to us why they’re there: for resume building, of course. But by doing that, they take away a spot from someone who actually might have helped the group a lot. It’s wrong. If you join a club or group, engage in its various activities. You may find it’s a lot of fun, and new bonds of friendship can be forged.
This rule applies to academics as well. I know some people who keep their grades up just enough to be eligible to play sports. That’s fine, if you plan on being a Michael Jordan and playing into college and beyond. But for most, high school is going to end eventually, and after high school, not a single college or place of employment is going to care how many touchdowns you scored in a high school football game.
5. Make positive, constructive decisions
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” - Warren Buffett
My final tip for success in high school may be the most important: Be you.
As we go through high school, there will be a plethora of people trying to tell you how to be “you.” Advertisements bombard our minds with what new clothes to wear and products to use. Maybe your friends are trying to change you, or your siblings are pushing you to do what they think is right for you. But this is your life. You are the one who has to live with the benefits and consequences of your decisions. As you go through high school, take heed that for every decision you make, there will be consequences, both good and bad. If you do make a tough choice and it turns out wrong, do not go running around looking for people to blame. Point to yourself, and take responsibility for your actions.
In addition, keep in mind that people are always watching you. For every action you take, there is at least one person who witnesses it and forms an opinion about you. Plus, the choices you start to make now are going to carry throughout your life. What I mean is that if you get into the habit of studying now, while you’re in high school, studying in college will be easier. Think about the types of decisions you are making now, and then ask yourself how you can, or if you should, continue making those same decisions in the future.
In conclusion, there are many things to keep in mind as you experience day after day of high school. It’s important to remember that every action we make may have unforeseen consequences! And don’t forget: Go out and try something new, organize, prioritize, work hard, and make positive decisions.
I’m not saying that my way of doing things is better than the other guy's. But these tips have helped me out, and I hope they do the same for you. Thank you for reading, and have a great year!
Zachary Nine, Pinconning junior
- Sports: Cross country, track and field
- Non-sports activities: Student Council, band, National Honor Society, Congressional Youth Leadership Council, Mock Trial, tutoring, job
- Favorite class: Sociology and Psychology
- Up next: I'm working toward attending West Point and studying something in the sciences.
- Pump-up jams: "I'm Not Afraid" and "Lose Yourself" by Eminem
- Must-see TV: "House"
- Favorite film: "The Avengers"
PHOTO: Pinconning's Zachary Nine leads his marching band as its drum major during a parade. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Nine.)