Four Years at CLS

Four Years at CLS

Madison Ross

As we near the end of the semester, there’s a lot to look forward to. Spring break is coming up, and summer will follow closely behind. For many seniors, this is a time of great excitement—-and nervousness—as post-graduation plans begin to finalize and graduation looms on the horizon. These types of big changes always trigger reflection: we look back on what we’ve learned during our time in high school as we move into the next chapter of our lives.

In August of 2019, I began my high school career at Crystal Lake South. In less than two months, that career ends. I’ve been reflecting a lot on these past four years—which absolutely flew by—and I realize that I truly have learned a lot. I’ve grown and developed as a person and have found the passion that I plan to pursue for my future career. It’s been an amazing journey.

Today, I’ll outline three pieces of advice I have for anyone still in the midst of (or who will soon be beginning) their high school career that I’ve been able to pick up these past four years. 


Advice #1: Use a Planner

The first piece of advice is to use a planner. 

If you’re already in high school, then you probably know how easy it can be sometimes to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of responsibilities you have. You have to keep up with homework assignments, studying for tests, sports, activities, work, and any relationship responsibilities you may have. It is practically impossible to keep track of it all on your own without forgetting something (or multiple things). The best way to avoid a missing assignment or friend-whose-angry-because-you-forgot-about-your-plans scenario is to keep track of everything by writing it down. You can use a digital planner such as Google Calendar or a well-organized Google Doc, or you can use a more traditional planning notebook. Either way, having a method to keep track of your life will allow you to stay on top of everything you have to do. And, you may find that using a planner allows you to do even more of what you love by improving your time-management skills.


Advice #2: Talk to people!

Remember how easy it was to make friends in kindergarten? Little kids have a magic ability to make friends: all they have to do is walk up to each other, find one thing in common, and boom—friends! Most people will tell you that it is much harder to make friends as you move into high school, and this is partly true. High schoolers have spent years developing an acute awareness of societal expectations, while kindergarteners have not. Thus, high schoolers are much more hesitant to approach strangers with the intent of friendship. 

Relationships are the most important part of your life no matter how old you are. So, it’s important to make new friends, especially if you’re just starting your time in high school. Even though it may be anxiety-inducing, the only way to make new friends is to talk to people you don’t know. Take the first day of any semester as an opportunity to get to know those sitting around you in each of your classes. Join new clubs and talk to as many people as possible. By doing this, you’ll make friends. And, even if you aren’t able to keep up with everyone you meet, you’ll be able to learn a lot just by interacting with many different kinds of people. Talking to people will help you grow in friendships and lessons that you’ll carry with you beyond high school.


Advice #3: Everyone is just as self-conscious as you are

I’ve noticed in my own experience that many high schoolers are incredibly anxious about what other people think; whether it be what people think of what they wear, how they look, what backpack or phone they have, what they say, or even how funny they are. Additionally, many students feel extra pressure about making themselves look good for college through their classes and extracurricular activities. So, students are constantly thinking about what other people think. 

However, nobody—absolutely not one person—is 100% confident in what they’re doing. Even the people that you think may be judging you are often worrying about what people think of them. Everyone has their own doubts about themselves. It’s perfectly normal. The best way to deal with these doubts and worries is to do what makes you happy. It’s much more fun to love your outfit and worry about what others think of it than it is to feel uncomfortable in what you’re wearing and also  worry about what others are thinking. Plus, loving what you’re doing is often a good way to quell that anxiety. Making your choices for you will improve your experience in high school tenfold.


I’ve learned a lot during my time in high school. I hope that these pieces of advice help you through your high school journey, no matter how far along you are now. You’ve got this!