It seems to take up the majority of our lives right now. And with remote/hybrid classes that have now become the norm for most students? The lines between our personal and school lives have become all the more blurred. Day after day of chugging away at these endless assignments can make it so easy for us to get bored, to get tired and burnt out, or even to get our soul sucked out of us.
But we are in more control of our school and schedule than we think.
Now of course this varies from school to school, but I believe a huge part of what’s limiting us is our own beliefs about what this stage of life has the potential to be. What it should look like but most importantly, what it could look like.
What should school really look like?
The beautiful part of school is that it has countless different benefits and pathways available. But beneath all of that I believe school is meant to do one thing for all students:
Help students grow into the best version of themselves that they can be so that they can give back to God, to the world, and to themselves in a way that fulfills their unique potential.
We are to learn who we are and grow that. This means embracing our unique talents, abilities, interests, passions, likes, etc. and building on those. This means developing who we are (creating us into passionate leaders, learners, and critical thinkers) and not what we know.
How can you take back control as the student?
When it comes to that mission of developing who we are, there will be some classes that we should all take regardless of major or future dreams. For one, I know Biology was required at my school because it’s the only science that directly applies to us as humans, that makes sense. But couldn’t changing our principles and views of health (both mental and physical) be much more useful than ;earning exactly how our DNA copies itself? And yes we all need math skills, but should everyone be required to go that high in math?
So what should you do if your classes aren’t as helpful/applicable as they could be?
- Find someone who knows what you want to know. Yes the curriculum might be faulted and not the most applicable, but the connections you’ll make in that class definintely are helpful. Reach out to your teacher (and as you get into college and beyond, even your colleages will know a lot!). They might not be teaching what you hoped for but they might know about it.
- Find a school where you do have more of a say in the classes you take.
- Wisely choose the classes you’ll take that you get to choose. You might not be able to dictate the classes you need to take, but for the few classes you do get to choose, how can you wisely choose the classes that you would get the most out of?
- Get curious and interested about the topics and skills you are required to learn. It’s unrealistic to think that you’ll have complete control over your curriculum and requirements, but that can be a good thing! Although we do think we’re unbiased, sometimes having guidelines in place will make us a more well-rounded person as we take classes we wouldn’t normally pick on our own.
What can you do beyond classes to make the most of your time as a student?
- Get the cooperation of your parents. I must say, this is massive. My parents are some of my biggest academic coaches and cheer-leaders.
- Start exploring your own passions, interests, and goals. I think it’s so easy for us to look at this and think, dreams don’t pay the bills or something like that. But this doesn’t usually require anything drastic! You don’t have to quit school to go join that writing club. Yes you can’t eat dreams for dinner, but for the hour you have before dinner, have you tried doing something to pursue those dreams instead of go on social media?
- Take back control of your own schedule. Start the day with what you prioritize. And set boundaries on school and the amount of time you’ll spend doing homework, projects, etc. (Counterintuitively, this will actually make you more productive).
- Apply your what you learn as much as you can. This can mean leading clubs, doing personal side projects, working part time, getting an internship, tutoring, participating in research, or really anything that grows you. (Hoenstly I geek out and get so excited just thinking of all these opportunities).
- Research your own future. If you don’t want the 9-5 life, start thinking about how you’re going to make money doing what you want. If you don’t like the school you’re at start researching other schools.
- Immerse yourself in activities now that will help you get that knowledge you want. If you’re scared to make a decision because you could make the wrong choice, don’t postpone the decision and hope you’ll know more later. You learn who you are and what you like by doing.
- Live in the moment even if you have a deadline coming up. Realizing the big picture and how important/not important school really is is tough, but oh so necessary.
So what can you realistically expect out of school?
So even if you take all these steps, what can you as a student hope for during your time in school?
- Increased flexibility the older and higher up you get in the school system (which makes sense sometimes).
- More flexibility than you think (right where you are). You can:
- Finish some college during high school
- Skip grades
- Homeschool/remote school/online school and set your own schedule
- Work part time and save to go travel abroad or get higher education
- Find programs that will earn you credit for doing what you love
- Join sports and clubs in and outside of school
- Meet incredible people in school that have done what you want to do
- Learn who you are and what you’re made out of
Not everything you read in this post or on this list may apply to you, but I hope you feel empowered and reminded of why you’re doing what you’re doing day in and out for hours and hours. And at the end of the day:
If you forget everything, I hope you remember this one thing: Your story is exactly that, yours. You can shape more of it than you think.