8 Good Habits for High School Students


8 Good Habits for High School Students

By the time you enter high school you have developed lots of habits: some good, some bad, and some ugly. Your high school years are the perfect time to specifically cultivate a new routine that will help you on your way to getting into your dream colleges. The 8 good habits for high school students described below include some practical suggestions that can help you enhance your experiences, and elevate your profile in ways that not only look good on college applications, but can be useful throughout your college career as well. Oh and improve your manners, too.

Keep an up-to-date calendar

Time management tops the list of good habits for high school students. Timeliness matters people! Even if you are doing a decent job of staying on top of your assignments, deadlines, and appointments right now, I’ve got news for you. Your life is only going to get more complicated, and time management is going to get tougher during the college application process. Getting into your dream school means being an active, involved individual with lots of balls in the air.

I know, I know, you like your spiral bound school agenda. But there are so many apps now; it’s time to use an online calendar. The advantages are myriad. Digital calendars sync with your phone, easily create repeating events, and can send you alerts and reminders. You are going to need all of those functions eventually. Start now and you’ll know how to use the cool features before all the major deadlines start knocking on your door, leaving you in over your head.

Sort your priorities

Yes, I just said that getting into your dream school means being an active, involved individual with lots of balls in the air, but you also have to make some choices. Make a list of all of your activities, hobbies, and interests, and ask yourself which ones you want to do more of, and which ones you wouldn’t mind doing less.

It’s important that the way you use your time reflects the things that matter most to you. This will tell colleges a lot about who you are, where you are likely to go next, and how well you would fit into their school. So if you are spending a dozen hours each week hating your life at basketball practice, and rarely squeeze in time to attend the local poetry slams that make your heart sing, you should rethink your priorities. Colleges like to see that you have maintained your interests and activities over a sustained period of time, but more importantly, they want to see genuine passion for the activities you do.

Quit things judiciously

If I was going to give even broader brushed advice, I would say don’t quit most things, just cut back. Stay a member of French Club even if you miss most of the meetings. It will give you one more option of something to list on your applications. But sometimes, this just isn’t possible.

With so much going on in high school, sometimes there is no way to simply cut back on the time that one of your activities requires. It’s hard to be in the marching band less. Usually you are in it or out of it. So for borderline interests that absolutely require a disproportionate amount of time, you really do need to quit. And yes there are high school clubs that aren’t the most ideal. That time will be better spent making an activity that you care about into a true standout. It’s the standouts that colleges notice.

Accept support

If you are thinking about college early, you’re in a good place . But even top students need help throughout high school. One of the key good habits for high school students you could develop is the willingness to accept help when you need it. Attend study sessions and exam prep hours— even if you feel fairly confident in your mastery of the material. Teachers like to see that top students are still trying to learn more and dig deeper. These teachers who see you taking initiative would be great people to ask for college recommendations!

This habit also comes in handy when you struggle. And everyone struggles. You have plenty of resources and support systems right at your high school. Make time to talk with teachers and guidance counselors and coaches and other mentors, depending on the area in which you need help. Reaching out for support will strengthen the bonds between you. This will only enrich their letters of recommendation in a couple of years.

Sit up front (and raise your hand)

It really does make a difference! Sitting up front increases your connection to your teachers, helps you stay awake and attentive, reduces the temptation to multitask (cough, text) during class, and increases your retention of lessons, all of which are good habits for high school students to have.

If seating charts or the alphabet make it impossible for you to sit up front, you should still get in the habit of participating. Don’t be annoying, but be engaged. Ask a question or two, answer a question or two. This will help you stay in touch with the course material and prepare well for your exams. These people do get better grades, every time. And guess what: colleges like better grades.

Get involved in more meaningful ways

The French Club that I told you not to quit could become more than a nominal activity if you put your heart into it. It’s no secret that colleges look for leadership qualities and school clubs are an obvious place to rack up some titles. But then you need to do more than that. Think about the thirty seven thousand high schools in the US. Just about every one of them has a president of a French Club. How are you going to make your experience more meaningful and unique?

Create a tradition, start a fundraiser, plan a retreat, bring in speakers. There’s no limit to the ways you can get involved and make an impact. When it comes to good habits for high school students, actions speak louder than words.

Think outside the box

Even better than being the dynamic president of French Club would be to create your own club or activity. Good habits for high school students include the ability to recognize what you love and put your unique spin on it. If you are passionate about French, maybe you start teaching French to elementary school kids at the local library. If you are interested in all languages, maybe you create a community wide languages fair that celebrates the diversity of cultures in your city.

Let your prioritized passions (See # 2) be your guide about which activities you want to codify in your own unique ways. This can be an important part of your application story.

Choose some useful daily newsletters for your inbox

This last one is easily achievable. Make yourself a bit smarter and a bit more interesting each day. Sign up for a daily dose of something intriguing. There are so many great free services that can deliver current events, vocabulary challenges, inspirational quotes, editorial cartoons, scientific fun facts, this-day-in-history, you name it.

The benefits are clear and the investment is minimal. Learn new words; improve your SAT score. Stay abreast of current events; be prepared for college interviewers who want to gauge your worldliness. A few of my favorite resources are The Skimm, The Week Cartoons, Wordsmith, Brainy Quote, and Science Daily.

These good habits for high school students will serve you well beyond these four years through college and in life. They will help you nurture positive personal qualities like confidence, creativity, persistence, initiative… ah but that list is a blog for another day. I have to run— my Calendar alert just went off.

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