This morning I woke up to my first day of “I never have to go to high school ever again.” Theoretically, it could be my first day of “I never have to go to school ever again,” but as I’ve already enrolled in a college, I doubt my parents would be okay with that. Some people might say that I’m jumping the gun because there are still two weeks until graduation, but as far as I’m concerned, the simple fact of never having to return to the halls I’ve wandered the past four years except out of my own volition is far more precious than striding across a stage and getting handed a piece of paper which won’t even have my name on it.
I haven’t cried yet, or become so elated that I’ve run around screaming. Maybe these things aren’t going to happen, because they’re supposed to occur the moment that last bell rings. I think I’m just content to know I survived, and can now move on to the next stage of my life and education. Congratulations every 2011 senior who’s graduating, and for the rest of you, here are some tips to get you to the point where I am now:
• Take naps. Anyone with a rigorous course load knows it’s actually impossible to maintain your As and not suffer from sleep deprivation, but a one or two hour sleep break each afternoon refreshes you for staying up until three a.m. It’s a lot more productive than wasting that time on Facebook.
• Read the stuff you’re assigned. As a literary connoisseur, I know better than most people that more than half of the books English classes read are pretty bad. But that doesn’t mean you should just trash them—reading those books gives you the ability to ridicule them as well as do well on exams and essays. I love being able to make fun of such “classics” as Hamlet, The Scarlet Letter (which isn’t that bad guys), and A Tale of Two Cities, among others. Not to mention everyone, Sparknotes are long. Really long. Reading the actual book will probably only take you half an hour more than reading those tedious chapter summaries, and it’ll probably be more enjoyable. The “read what you’re assigned” rule goes for other classes too—reading your textbook will probably teach you something you didn’t learn in class.
•Take notes. Sometimes your teacher isn’t great. There’s nothing you can do to change them, but you can take your learning into your own hands if you intend to do well on an AP exam, for instance. Even with an excellent teacher, note-taking and shorthand skills are remarkably useful for studying, because writing stuff down helps engrave it in your brain. When preparing for the test, you have no need to reread the textbook because you’ve made your own, more thorough version of Sparknotes—You-notes!
• Use common sense. Obviously, this idea seems obvious. However, sometimes people forget to use it, as we’ve seen in the news lately. Even if the rapture was coming, does is really seem like a good idea to clean out all your savings on a frivolous trip to Vegas? Using your head is a skill you’re going to need both in and out of school, for your public and personal life. You’ll run into much fewer conflicts if you learn to just stop and think before making decisions.
• Take time to have fun. I want to get straight As and have a killer GPA as much as the next person, but I probably would have keeled over dead if I hadn’t taken a break once in awhile. We’re teenagers, we’re young, and although we should be working hard to become adults, even adults take time off for vacation, or to go out with their friends. A 2400 on the SAT is an impressive feat, but it doesn’t validate your existence. Colleges want to see that you’ve toiled to have good grades and test scores, that you’ve spent a lot of time volunteering our participating in extra curriculars, but they also want to see that you’ve enjoyed these things and yourself, rather than being a slave to the education system. So, with the summer approaching or already here, make sure to take time to go outside and play instead of staying locked in a room with prep books and a tutor.