The High School Survival Guide

As a junior in high school, I could write a book about the stress students face. From spending hours on homework every night, to extra curricular activities and essays, high school students are being to stressed to their limits. Here is a quick look at the work load that the average 8th grader could expect going into high school and through their high school years.


Transitioning into high school is difficult for some of us. However, for the most part, the work is not the most challenging. Of course, how hard the course load is depends on the school that an individual attends, but to be honest, teachers don’t necessarily expect much from freshmen. Mainly because they assume we still have a middle school mindset, and are not able to handle an excessive work load. Depending on what kind of high school a student attends, the work load is either a complete review of all they have learned in middle school, or very little new material just as an introductory period to high school level work. The sad truth is that 9th grade is a glorified 8th grade part 2!

Survival Tip: Join as many sports and/or clubs that you can handle. The academic work for this year isn’t the most strenuous of the four years, however, the social scene will be more challenging to navigate. With sports and clubs you can meet people with similar interests as yourself! Trust me, this helps to ease the transition.



By the time a student hits their sophomore year, the work load has definitely increased, but not significantly. During sophomore year a student adjusts to a more difficult academic schedule. From personal experience, the work load as a sophomore is definitely a little bit like a freshman’s, but there is less leniency. If a freshman misses an assignment for example, without asking for an extension, the student’s teacher will give them another chance to hand in the work for full credit. During sophomore year, and in later grades, this  leniency may not apply. The student is expected to know better, and notify the teacher before missing an assignment and stick to a commitment to turn it in. Circumstances like these reveal the ways in which sophomore year is more difficult and requires more responsibility and accountability. And trust me, it doesn’t get easier from here…

Survival Tip: There is such a thing as the “Sophomore slump”! DO NOT fall prey to it. This is the year to develop a motivation routine, which is basically a regimen that will keep you on the ball and focused during this year. Anything from eating a daily breakfast to adjusting your sleeping pattern for maximum focus. These are the keys to a successful sophomore year!



Junior year is a crucial year for a high school student. This is the year that colleges see, so of COURSE there will be a large and extremely difficult work load. As a junior myself, I can easily say this is the worst year to slack off. There is ZERO leniency, and teachers expect a lot more out of us considering we are approaching the last year of our high school careers. There are more essays, harder tests, and the college readiness tests (SAT, ACT). This has to be the second most stressful year of a student’s high school career.

Survival Tip: Study, study, study! I cannot stress enough how important this year is. Become familiar with the graduation requirements, as well as college requirements. Develop a list of schools you are looking into so that you are well prepared for the beginning of your senior year! The categories by which you should divide your list should be as follows: safety schools, which are practically “plan b” or “back-up” schools. This is just in case you don’t, for any reason, get into your match or reach schools. Next, are reach schools. These should be schools that are slightly less likely you may be admitted to, because they have lower acceptance rates. Last, but not least are match schools. Match schools are colleges or universities that you are, without a doubt, qualified for! Any of these divisions can consist of however many schools you are comfortable with. But, to be safe, try to aim for at least 5 in each category.  When coming up with these lists, make sure to only list schools you know you would be happy at regardless, in order that you are not disappointed with the choice you make in the end, even if it was not your number 1 choice.



I don’t have any experience as a senior yet, but from what I’ve heard it’s the second step of junior year: Applying to colleges. Perhaps the most important tip for this year is to STAY FOCUSED! This is the year that all of your hard work will be put to the test. The biggest mistake that you can make this year is believing that you can slack off after getting into college. A college or university is well within their rights to revoke your admissions if they feel as if your presence there will jeopardize the integrity of their institution. So remember: with the first college acceptance, comes the real hard work: maintaining not only your grades but also your good standing as a student overall.

Survival Tip: Have fun! This is an important year that you should work hard at. But, it is also your last year and you should enjoy it! You and your friends may be going away next year so enjoy the time you have with them now. You will not regret it.


The final and most important tip is to remember that not everybody’s high school experience is the same. So enjoy yours, however difficult or unchallenging it may be. Make the most of these years, because you will never get them back.

On that note, whether you’re freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.. don’t give up! Who knows, despite all of the work, high school may be the best four years of your life!

Need some techniques for how to become a better, more focused student? Watch this quick video!




2 thoughts on “The High School Survival Guide

  1. this is golden. there are many pieces about high school survival, but i like this one – you speak from personal experience, which is something i like and think people can learn from. i love it!!

  2. I’m a sophomore and I can definitely agree, being a sophomore isn’t as much stress as junior and Senior year but it’s definitely more of a responsibility than any other years before highschool.

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