Reflecting on the High School Experience

As a Grade 12 student, I have survived and thrived for the past 3 years of my life. Of course, there have been many obstacles along the way (gee, thanks Physics) but as a whole, I’d like to think that those obstacles have made me into a more developed and insightful being. My new column will include some general and not-so-general blurbs of advice from the perspective of a Grade 12 student.


Depending on the type of person you are, you are most likely doing too much of this or not enough. I strongly recommend getting into the habit of reading up on your class lessons the day before just so that you do not zone out during class and have no clue on what’s going on. Been there, done that. It honestly makes a huge difference if you follow this first tip, which you especially need for Grade 11 and Grade 12.

Form study groups with about 2-4 other people, especially for subjects involving a lot of theory or calculations so you can discuss and have a deeper understanding of concepts or learn different strategies and shortcuts. Just make sure your group is productive and has at least two other people who know what they are doing. Otherwise, you will all just be sitting there messing each other up with your own twisted interpretations on what you should be doing. Unfortunately, I’m guilty of having done that as well. Ask individuals who are doing well in the course, who are enthusiastic about it, or who ask a lot of good questions to join your study group. Remember that you can always ask the “smart” people for help, but never just ask them for answers. It ticks them off and you won’t even benefit from this in the long run since you will remain incapable.

Never be afraid of your teachers either! I have seen so many people who are too shy to ask their teachers for help. What do you think they are paid to do? From my experience, getting to know my teachers (they are people too!) and getting help when they are available has made a huge difference in how I perform in class. The worst thing you could possibly do is avoid your teacher as you’ll just end up doing poorly.

Keep on top of sample problems and homework as well. It will be very tempting to not do homework altogether when you first realize that some of your teachers won’t even check, but this will just lead to poor performance.

Last, but not least, pace yourself to avoid procrastination! If not, this could be your greatest downfall. It is not fun waking up at five in the morning to study for a test that gives you the jitters. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.



Obviously, there will be a lot of you out there who will just care about this section. You horny teens, you. First off, it’s important that you know yourself before you get into a relationship. You should gain your confidence from yourself, not the approval of others. Do not even bother dressing up for someone else or like someone else instead of yourself. You were born an original, so don’t die a copy. What is sexy is confidence, which you project to others. Nothing says your sexy like acknowledging you respect yourself and setting boundaries. The less you reveal the more they wonder. This includes how much skin you show. Also, do not be afraid to talk to people you like! You may never meet another person as cute as that, or who has as intriguing of a personality. Boldness gets you results, but irrationality does not. Do not get laid just because it fits your image, you’re the last in your friend group to do so, or you are forced to. Chlamydia is not fun, kids. If you don’t know what that is, then I’m afraid you’re not even educated enough to get laid, yet. You’ll know when you are ready, so even if you do not have sex by the time you are out of high school, that’s perfectly okay. You’ll find someone more experienced and worth it in the future. Know your morals and values, and make sure they don’t collide with those of whoever you are in a relationship with. That does not mean you change yourself, but you find a person who you can easily get along with. This also applies to friendships, a category in which you should allow yourself a lot more freedom. Be as diverse as possible, as you never know who you can click with. People value honesty, loyalty, and humor doesn’t hurt either. You’ll have the most fun the more you hang out with different types of people. Trust me.


Join at least 2-3 and be a dedicated member. They occur in the mornings, at lunch, and afterschool! Of course, when you first pick your 2-3, you are free to try different things, but once you decide, be a good contributor. Once you become more comfortable with balancing school work with clubs, you are free to join more. When the time comes for you to apply to universities, you’ll be glad the earlier you joined clubs, and the more you did for them, as you’ll end up talking about how long you were in your clubs and what you specifically did for those clubs. It does not sit well with universities if you were merely a person who joined everything in gr.12 and did nothing useful in any of them. They’ll see right through you. Clubs also let you meet people who are interested in the same things as you! If you do not have friends, join a club you are interested in. If you have friends, join a club together, or better yet, join a lesser known club together, as it will literally just be you chilling with your peeps. If there are no clubs that interest you, feel free to start one that does! You’ll need to find a teacher who is willing to help you, and inform administrative staff about your idea. Paperwork may be involved, but short lived. Leadership roles especially translate well into life skills, and universities and colleges like them too. Plus, you will most likely become popular this way. Who doesn’t want that?


Get your 40 hours as soon as humanly possible. I cannot stress this enough, especially since JCR has started to reward those who complete all their hours in gr.9 with an exclusive award this year! You cannot graduate without those 40 hours, so do it sooner rather than later. You’ll be so much busier the longer you wait, with more work and less time in upper grades. Plus, volunteering can be a fun experience, depending on your attitude and willingness. Be dedicated to at least 2 organizations and at least a few smaller groups, or individuals. You can meet so many types of people volunteering, from different schools, different provinces, or even different countries! Volunteer with your friends, or by yourself. Whatever floats your boat. Research online to find opportunities available in Ajax, Pickering, Whitby, or internationally. The more effort you put into finding the right agencies/individuals to aid, the more likely you will actually enjoy what you end up doing and the people you are with. If you want to volunteer in the summer, your research stage should begin in March to April, as those spots fill up fast! Some of my fondest memories in high school stem from volunteering experiences that I have shared with my community and students from other schools. Volunteering looks good, and feels amazing! Enough said.


Do you have no clue on what you want to do after high school? Well then, you are a normal teenager. Most of us cruise our way through high school, anticipating our end without even knowing what we want our end to be. That’s okay. If you are in gr.9, you have plenty of time, so I do not know why you are reading this section. You, of all people, should be having the most fun. If you are in gr. 10, start paying attention to what courses interest you. It will make your life so much easier if you can cancel out the courses that you do not want to take, so you do not waste your time and efforts in gr.11 and gr.12. However, it is also important to keep your options open, and have a reasonable backup plan. If you are in gr.11, start looking at university/college campuses, reading up on scholarships available to you next year, programs that interest you, and university/college clubs that interest you. If you do not end up doing any of that, it is okay, but I strongly recommend you do at least some of these things to make life easier for you next year. If you are in gr.12, hopefully you have some idea of what you want to do by this point, as university and college applications are quickly approaching. If not, then at least look into general programs that are available to you, so that you can start your first year unspecialized, or just attend a university with a general 1st and possibly 2nd year. Just know your general area of interest in these cases, like the social sciences, mathematics, linguistics, the sciences, etc. Despite my recommendations on all this planning to help you avoid the perils of failure to prepare, I must ironically also tell you to not over plan. You never know what opportunities may arise in the future, that you are not aware of today or which do not even exist today. As Steve Jobs once said, “stay hungry, stay foolish”.

General Message

I hope whatever it is that you chose to read has benefitted you in some way, was entertaining to some degree, or helped you get out of the socially awkward situation you may have been in, so you took a glance at the newspaper and hoped that no one would acknowledge you as you became lost in my delicious words. You’re welcome. Any who, though I hope I got you all hot and sweaty about volunteering and the likes, I hope you understand and practice the art of moderation. To be successful in life, this is the skill to practice. Do not go to the extreme with any of the aforementioned categories, as you will end up having no life and no sense of adventure. Instead, practice these practices in careful moderations and start off or finish off your high school life with some form of enlightenment. I shall now proceed to recap the somewhat cheesy sayings that I appreciate and do not care if you judge; Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail. You were born an original, so don’t die a copy. Last, but certainly not least, stay hungry, and stay foolish.