Things I Wish I Knew When I Graduated High School

1. After Graduating High School You’re in Charge of Cooking and Cleaning for Yourself

They teach you a lot in high school but somehow manage to avoid teaching you those basic skills that make being a human possible. I’m talking about cooking and cleaning. If you’re moving out into your own apartment or moving away to college you’ll need these skills desperately. Even if you’re staying at home after high school graduation, you’re too old for your parents or guardians to do all the housework on their own. Learning how to take care of yourself helps you feel that you’re a grown-up, in charge of your own space and even able to care for others.

Also, ramen noodles will get old. Fast.


2. Class Is Easier When You Do the Reading

In high school, I’m embarrassed to say, I read more SparkNotes than actual books. In college, however, I discovered that class is much easier when you’ve actually done the reading. Also, more enjoyable. In high school, it’s easy to feel like you’re there only because you have to be. Remember, higher education is your choice. You chose to be there and you’re paying to be there. Take ownership of this choice by investing yourself fully in the courses you take.  Do your reading.


3. You’ve Got Options After Graduating High School– Consider Online Universities

Students should invest in exploring all the different options available to them after graduating high school. Finding the school that’s right for you and your life is crucial to having a great, rewarding experience. Many students forget to check out online universities – but this can be a great choice for individuals who don’t want to relocate, or who want to study on their own schedule.


At many online universities, you can get an accredited degree. There are a wealth of degree programs out there for online students. Make sure to check them out!


Just like with traditional colleges, there are lots of online universities out there and it’s important to find out which one suits your needs.


4. There Are Affordable Options for Getting a Degree

It’s been eleven years since I graduated high school and headed to college and I’m still paying off my student loans. I loved my university but I wish I had known that I had options.


Many students these days are headed to Europe for a cheap or free education! And many others are looking to online universities for excellent educations at a lower cost. Not all online universities (or European universities) are low cost, but many are and some are even tuition-free while still offering a top-notch education.


5. Take Care of Yourself- Cherish Your Health, Mentally and Physically

One of my worst memories is of the time I got sick for the first time after graduating high school. I had been overworking myself at college and was deeply stressed out when the flu hit. Never before had I been so sick without anyone to take care of me. I was in bed, too weak to even go to the pharmacy. But the experience taught me an important lesson: cherish your health and guard it.


This means both mental and physical health because the two of these things are deeply connected. If you’re stressed out, your immune system may become compromised.


Take time to rest. Take time to socialize. Take up a practice that calms you, whether it’s running or meditating or just sitting outside every once in a while to get some fresh air.


Also, build up a home pharmacy. You won’t be able to walk to Rite Aid when you’ve got a fever, so buy some basics just to be prepared.


6. Sleep Is Crucial

Life can be overwhelming. Studies, work, family, friends – all of these things take up time.  Sometimes it feels like sleep is the last priority.


What I’ve learned is that sleep is the foundation of a happy, healthy life. If I get a good eight hours, all my relationships benefit. My health benefits. I do my work more efficiently.


After graduating high school you may find yourself so occupied with other things that sleep becomes your last priority – and getting enough sleep can be especially hard for students who have so many responsibilities, so make sure that you make sleeping a conscious priority.


7. There are Places to Turn to for Help After Graduating High School– Make Use of Them!

University level courses are much more demanding than the ones students have experienced in high school. Many students feel unprepared after graduating high school for the sheer volume of work and the complexity of the subject matter. When I started studying in university, I assumed that only I was feeling overwhelmed and unprepared while everyone else was having an easy time. This wasn’t really the case but that’s what it felt like.


What I didn’t realize is that my professors knew I was struggling. More than that, they knew from experience what kind of struggle I was having. It took me a long time to realize that they were there to help, all you have to do is ask.


Universities and colleges, both online and traditional, have support structures in place to help students. Whether it’s a writing center, a mentor or a counselor, your instructor or your RA, there are people around you whose job it is to support YOU.


Learn what these support structures are and don’t be afraid to turn to them when you’re in need.


8. You Don’t Have to Have it All Figured Out – Just Be Curious and Open Minded

Many people think of college and university as a kind of job training for individuals who know exactly what they want to do in their lives and careers. This can be daunting for people who don’t know what they want to do exactly. They may feel like they can’t begin studying until they have a stronger sense of direction.


Many students do have a definite sense of what they want to do. That can be a benefit but also a blind-spot.


Most students enter into college or university with a sense of what kind of subjects they want to study, but it’s important to be open minded. In the course of your study you will be exposed to new ideas, new subjects, and new nuances of the subjects you’ve already studied that you had never before experienced.


To start studying, you don’t need to know exactly what you want to study and exactly what you want to do with your life. Studying is a process of discovery. All you need is to be curious and open-minded.


9. Learn Your Bad Habits and Learn How to Work Around Them

My room used to be a disaster when I was in college. At the end of the day I would kick off my shoes, and throw my coat on the floor along with my sweater and my gloves. The floor was an ocean of laundry and I hated it. Every once and a while I would try to change my ways. I would start folding clothes and putting them either away or into the laundry when I was done with them, but I was never able to keep up this habit for long.


Eventually I learned that I would never correct my laundry throwing habit – but I could work around it. I bought a new chair for my room and designated it as the laundry chair. At the end of the day I would throw my clothes onto it with abandon. It was a hack that allowed me to keep throwing my clothes, but spared my room from looking messy. Later, I could go to the laundry chair and fold what needed folding and toss the clothes that needed washing into the laundry.


As you start studying, you will encounter all sorts of bad habits that you may not have known you had. You may be a procrastinator, or a laundry thrower, or someone who can’t seem to stick to a schedule.


Instead of trying to “cure” yourself of all these bad habits, try and find a way to work around them.


If you procrastinate with Facebook, give yourself a Facebook break for fifteen minutes every time you complete a task. If you’re always late, set your clock back fifteen minutes. Find the hacks that work for you!

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