Advice for High Schoolers – Q+A

Hey Y’all!

Wow. I haven’t posted a blog post since February…life has been SO crazy! From the end of senior year, to graduation, to vacations and Etsy shop launches and so much more…yeah I haven’t had time to sit down a write a good ol’ fashion blog post, haha!

Now, going into college, I wanted to write a high school advice Q+A post. I asked for questions on Instagram and got so many responses. I am going to answer a bunch of those here and compile them all into one big post for advice on a variety of different topics. I actually did a post like this about a year ago, but good ol’ WordPress decided to go ahead and delete half of my post that I worked DAYS on. So here we are, doing this ALL OVER AGAIN! 

Personal Experience Questions

1. “What is something you wish you knew going into high school?”

I wish I knew that it is okay to be different and that not everything is going to be like those cherished high school musical movies. High school is hard in a lot of different ways, and you go through so much personal growth. I wish I had known that it is okay to stand out and be confident in who I am instead of trying to live up so much to other people’s expectations and trying to fit into a mold of who they wanted me to be.

2. “Was high school easy for you?”

High school was definitely not easy for me. I always have loved school and learning but I struggled a lot with not only certain classes but also emotionally with a lot of different things. From friends to precal, and an insane band schedule, I was always super stressed. I was super involved and I always felt a little overwhelmed. But you go through patches of easy times and hard. For example, football season was always a struggle with band for me because I would have marching band every day after school until late so I wouldn’t be able to start my art projects or homework until late. But second semester was often a lot better and less stressful. I also led a bible study for band girls with some of my besties and was on officer in National Art Honor Society in addition to being woodwind captain and a leader in band. I think I really struggled with filling my plate too much to do because I like to be involved, and then it was hard to balance some of my more difficult classes. Percal, algebra two, and physics were really hard for me and I had to start tutoring which led to more studying and even less sleep. Emotionally, I went through a patch of not really being in a good place and it made it harder. But I eventually found myself getting a lot better and it was more smooth sailing from there. Anyone who says high school was easy is probably lying. We all struggle in different ways whether it is friends, academics, extra curricular activities, mentally or whatever. Everyone works through something but it gets better and it is honestly just a huge roller coaster!

3. “What are some things that helped you through high school?”

I think this can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. I had a really great support group of my parents, boyfriend and eventually an awesome group of friends. It was always good to have people to talk to and help me work through things when I was struggling with something. In terms of actual things, my planner, my art, my math tutor, and learning time management got me through. I really struggled in math and I wouldn’t have gotten through advanced precal or algebra two without my math tutor. My planner and phone calendar helped me stay really organized so I never forgot an assignment – I’m one of those people that color codes and obsessively uses their planner, haha! My art just helped me through emotionally because it was something I could get lost in when I needed to. Time management was HUGE. I really struggled at first with biting off too much than I could chew in terms of classes and tried to balance a lot of difficult classes my freshmen year and I had to learn that it is okay not to take all pre-college or college level classes. GPA matter immensely but it is also important to get some sleep and actually learn something instead of killing yourself to get a C in a college level class and not actually learn anything. Eventually, my bible study I led with my besties really helped me through. It was great to have people to talk to once a week and pray with you!

4. “What was the best part of high school?”

I think the best parts of high school were the people I met and the things I got to be apart of. Through band and art, I got to meet some of the best friends I have ever had and meet some really awesome people. I met my besties and my awesome boyfriend through band in middle school and we all continued through high school. Band makes you develop really great, deep relationships with your friends because of the countless hours of sweat, tears and hard work. We all got to travel, compete and practice together and that meant hours upon hours of time to get really close. These are people I will cherish forever and talk to every day! I also will never forget that amazing feeling of walking off a football field after great performance or hearing our band’s name called at a competition – it is amazing to get to experience it all with your favorite people! Through art I met people that encouraged me and mentored me and helped me grow as an artist and as a person. It is amazing to have people you can call at 2 am when working on a project and don’t know how to move forward, and know they will help you get through your art-block. The people are definitely the best part of high school.

College Prep Questions

1. “How did you find colleges with your major?”

In terms of major choice, since I am a graphic design major, it was hard to decide between going to a university or an art school. I landed on a university because I am super involved and still wanted to travel with the band and join organizations and etc. Since I live in Texas, we have TONS of schools to choose from and I looked up colleges with the best art programs in Texas. I found a bunch of lists that ranked public, large universities and their design programs. I found that three of the universities I already loved, and that were close to my home, were ranked in the top 5 – University of Houston, University of Texas at Austin, and Texas State University. I eventually decided to apply to only UH and TXST because they fit me best and after visiting their programs, I loved them the most! I got my acceptance letters for both and decided that I just loved Houston too much to leave! The program is great, lets you grow, has a nationally ranked honors program, and has an amazing band, and other organizations! It was still in the top 5, and even though it was ranked right below TXST, I knew it was right for me. It isn’t always about what is THE best, but instead what is a great, established program and is right FOR YOU!

2. “How do you choose between the act/sat?”

Since I am an art major, and I really excel in writing and reading, I decided the SAT was probably my best bet. I took the PSAT my first two years of high school and did really well, and I assumed it was best for me. I also found two websites: one that in depth explained what the differences were, and another explained why one might be better for you than the other. (I’ll link them here and here) Like I assumed, the SAT was better for me and I did pretty well. You also can take both if you can’t decide or if necessary! Princeton Review also has a really helpful quiz on if you should take one or the other, or both – linked here.

3. “When should you start taking the act/sat and apply to colleges?”

For me, I couldn’t take any sat classes until Christmas break of my junior year because of marching band. This meant I couldn’t take the sat until January. This actually was INCREDIBLY helpful because I learned so much more math material and had more time for preparation. The sat and act have higher level math on it, and it was really helpful to know at least the first semester of algebra two – so you can receive a higher score on math sections. I recommend taking a class for whatever test you take close to your first test date so you remember the tips and tricks. But second semester of your junior year is the perfect! It allows time to learn higher level material that you need but also early enough to take the tests a few times! As for college apps, I started my applications the moment they were open! It is during the summer, but I had my applications done by the first or second week of my senior year and then I was free while everyone else was struggling and working both on school work and applications. I also heard back faster because I applied so early – before majority of people even started. It helps get everything out of the way for so you can focus on your senior year and apply for scholarships!

Organization/Study Questions

1. “How to prioritize?”

I highly recommend getting a planner with lots of room to write and has both weekly and monthly spreads. I color code mine so I can see everything I need to do clearly. Also, ALWAYS do assignments due sooner first. For example, if you have an english paper due next week but a percale worksheet due tomorrow, do the percale worksheet first. I would also work on harder assignments first because you never know how long they can take. I always did my math homework and studying first, because I could have more time and take breaks to do other homework if I needed to.

2. “Organization tips?”

Once again, PLANNERS, PLANNERS, PLANNERS. A planner is a necessity for high school because of all of your assignments. Buy a cute one with a great spread and plenty of space, a cute pack of colorful pens, some stickers, washi tape, and you’re all set! I color code to separate classes and so I can physically see what I have to do each day.

For planners, I currently use an Erin Condren life planner and I LOVE it! You get to customize your cover and the inside spreads and it is totally worth it if you obsessively use your planner like I do. (It is a pricier planner so unless you actually will use it, I wouldn’t purchase it) However, Erin does make cheaper academic planners and they are super cute! Some others that I have used are the Happy Planners, and Lilly Pulitzer. I loved both but so far the Erin Condren is my fave! (I also highly recommend the Jadelynn Brooke planner – I ordered my current planner before they launched their’s this year – but they have plenty of room and are SO CUTE!)

OTHER TIPS: I recommend using binder tabs to separate your binders into sections. It is really important to keep classes separated so you never lose an assignment! Also, set reminders on your phone for homework and etc. I use my phone calendar too, so If I am out with friends or busy, I still get a reminder telling me I have something due online that night or in class the next day. The reminders are also really nice for when you have TON of assignments and want to give yourself a set time for each to make sure you get everything done!

General High School Questions

1. “What is homecoming and prom like?”

So at my school, the homecoming dance was generally underclassmen. Upperclassmen usually went and got all dressed up with their dates/friends, took pictures, and then either went to dinner or went and did something fun. The actual activities are really fun. Everyone always did spirit week at my school so everyone was always dressed up for whatever the theme each day was. But our biggest day was always red-out day! It was always on Friday before the game and we dressed head to toe in red or our school! Since I also live in Texas, we have the tradition of homecoming mums (girls) and garters (guys)! They are always so fun to make and it is a big tradition to make them and then trade with your date! Usually underclassmen go full out red, white, and blue with their mums (our school colors), but seniors would have all white and silver so we stood out! It was a big deal to reach senior year and earn your right to an all white mum! We generally make mums really big and it is so fun to trade them after half time at the game, if you’re in band, with your date!

 

Here are my friend Christie and I’s mums from our senior year! Our boyfriends helped our moms design them and then they made them! My boyfriend wanted to have our favorite animal instead of a regular teddy bear and then a red flower over where Houston is! This was my favorite mum out of all four years!

As for prom, I went both my junior and senior year because my boyfriend is in the grade above me. My junior year was my favorite just because of the people we hung out with and the DJ that year was really fun! I liked my senior year and it was my favorite gown, my besties were there, and was favorite theme – The Great Gatsby! However, the DJ wasn’t awesome and played some just weird music the whole time and the valet company locked everyone’s keys inside their office on accident and was just a mess. Despite that, I had a great time taking pics and spending time with my boyfriend each year and I LOVED my dress my senior year! Prom is really fun if you like your date or have a great group to go with! It’s so much fun to get super dressed up and spend your night with your friends!

Freshman Tips Questions

1. “How to find the right friend group?”

Don’t be afraid to talk to new people and get involved in something you enjoy – you’ll meet other people who are too! just be yourself and trust that God will bring you the right people at the right time in your life. You don’t want to act fake just to make friends, because you’ll end up in relationships that aren’t deep or real. Be yourself and make real friendships where they like you for who you really are!

2. “How to be more outgoing/not socially awkward?”

Again, just be yourself. You will find the right people for you if you don’t put on a mask and hide who you are. Just remember that you have to sometime take a leap of faith in order to get something you want or to have fun. I was terrified to try out for band leadership and restart the band’s bible study with my besties, but it ended up being awesome and I made the leadership team the first year I tried out, and then was chosen as woodwind captain the next! In terms of the socially awkward thing, heck, I’m pretty socially awkward and often talk better with adults than I do with people my own age. But a lot of change and growth comes with time and you’ll get better the more comfortable you get and the more you know!

3. “Tips for freshmen?”

Academics are important and matter. Your freshmen year matters towards your GPA, so work hard, study, and don’t slack off! It will matter for college apps! 

For friends, be yourself and don’t be afraid to meet new people. You never know who will become your best friend! It is also okay to grow apart and find new friends. People grow apart and change and friends can be gifts for a season of life you’re in and then not fit exactly who you are becoming.

For dating – only date someone you really like! And don’t feel afraid to stand up for yourself and make your voice heard in a relationship. It’s okay to not date at all if that is what you want!

Keep your head up and stand up for who you are. High school can be really crushing and you will grow so much, but don’t be afraid to stay true to who YOU are. Trends, fads, and all that jazz comes and goes, but just remember to do what you want to do and make good choices. You don’t want to look back and regret something later. 

It is ALWAYS right to be kind and support others. It is NEVER right to judge or bring another person down. Being a bystander and doing nothing is just as bad as being the bully. It is ALWAYS okay to speak up and stand up for you, another person, or something you believe in.

Take a class or two just for fun. I took a photojournalism and design class this past year and adored it! I learned so much about photography, InDesign, and Photoshop and opened my eyes even more to the amazing world of art and design that I will be entering into this year. 

Don’t let a teacher ever make you feel lesser than you are. I had one call me stupid, and then I got my schedule switched and was put into another class – my grade raised 15 points. It is all about your teacher and how they teach and how you respond to their teaching.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions, get a tutor, or get help. I also had a teacher tell me to stop asking questions, and I made the highest grade in that Chemistry class. Th questions can make a HUGE difference in your grade. I got a tutor for precal and it was the reason I passed. A tutor doesn’t mean you’re stupid – it means you need maybe just a little more help learning and practicing the material!

Get involved in something you are interested in or are passionate about. High school has SO many honor societies, sporting teams, extra curricular activities and clubs. There is something for everyone! You don’t want to just go to school and go home. You can also meet awesome friends!

Take tons of pictures, but don’t live through your phone. You’ll want to remember everything, but don’t hide behind that screen for the next four years. You are bound to miss something.

Go to events and participate in the fun stuff. Go to a football game, support a friend at their concert or play, go to that dance, etc. You’ll be glad you did!

4. “What do they not tell you that is super important to know?”

They don’t tell you how fast everything will go by, and how much effort it takes on your own to apply to college. High school flew by for me and here I am going into my freshman year of college when I can still perfectly recall my first day of high school and my band locker combination from junior year. You’ll want to cherish every moment with your friends because you’ll have to say see you later to them in only four years! (It is SO hard!) They also never say how good it it will feel to walk and throw your grad cap in the air – SO good and it is like a weight has been lifted! I sobbed at my senior band banquet just because I couldn’t believe it was over – I was partially relieved too, haha! College apps are important and my school didn’t talk about them really until the last minute. Start as soon as possible! And really, they don’t tell you how much your freshmen year matters in terms of your GPA – your colleges you apply to WILL see those grades on your transcript! Seriously, get involved into things you are passionate about and stick with them – colleges LOVE that!

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That is it for this insane long blog post! Don’t forget to follow me on my social media page’s for the blog and etsy shop, and check out my shop on etsy where you can by personalized and handmade products like canvases, notebooks, tassel garlands and more!

Click that follow button to get updates whenever I post something and stay updated with all of the fun!

Have a great week and a fantastic school year!

xoxo, annie

 

 

 

 

 

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