12 Things Real Students [and Former Students] Wish They Had Known Before Starting High School

While it’s important to live life without regrets… let’s face it, we all have a few. (In fact, I asked a friend what she wishes she’d known before starting high school and she screamed, “I wish I knew to TRY! It’s my biggest regret of my life! I never TRIED!”) Until someone invents a time machine, there’s nothing we can do to rewrite our former mistakes, but we can certainly pass on what we’ve learned from them. These are 12 things that real upperclassmen and graduates wish they’d known before starting high school.


“Try not to let the stress get out of hand. Learn to find balance, especially if you are juggling academics, athletics, and personal commitments. Enjoy the process and know when to pull back when things seem to be getting out of hand.”

“Getting all As my freshmen year would have carried me through high school better. I didn’t do a stellar job my freshman year and now I wish I would have had that solid start because the classes just get more and more difficult as high school goes on.”

“Find that one extra club you really love.”

“I wish I had learned how to communicate via email earlier on. I feel like I could have benefited from understanding how to craft a well-written email sooner.”

“I wish I knew how much more I would have to maintain at once. Middle school teachers warned you, but you didn’t really believe it until it hit you.”

“That it was OK to get help for my ADHD. I fought my mom a lot on taking my meds and being more organized because I didn’t want people to think I was different. It took hitting a wall in college before I took self-improvement seriously.”

“Know what’s happening in classes before you go to that class.” [Editor’s note: This should maybe be the bare minimum.]

“Use your counselor. They actually know their stuff!”

“Grades actually do matter. I’m smart, but I didn’t start applying myself until junior year when all the sudden it “mattered”… but really it mattered the entire time. Also, AP classes are legit. Get that college credit!”

“I wish I knew how important taking more higher level classes was – even if it meant you didn’t make all 100s.”

“Try. Just try. Give all your courses a fair shot, because that’s how you’ll find out what you want to do in college. It might seem like school doesn’t matter, but it does.”

“I wish I knew to slow down and enjoy the moment.”