My Current Takeaways After Three Semesters of High School


Above image: drawing of how sophomores are stereotypically viewed. By Jessica Wang.

Although I’m only a sophomore in high school and still have more than two years left of high school to run through, I have compiled a list of seven takeaways I’ve noticed throughout my one semester of in-person learning and two semesters of online learning.

When it comes time to choose classes, DON’T fall into peer pressure! Yes, I know. How can there be peer pressure when choosing classes? We’ve all heard of peer pressure when it comes to matters like drugs and alcohol, but the Bay Area mindset that haunts many students at DHS often forces students to succumb to the pressure of choosing the hardest classes possible when it comes time for course selection. 

Many students might look around to see that their peers are taking a certain amount of APs or honors classes, and then feel pressured to one-up them. All I have to say is… no! It’s important to choose classes that you’re actually interested in, because you are going to be stuck with those classes for the rest of the year. 

This might sound basic but… please don’t procrastinate! The habit of procrastinating is really easy to fall into, yet extremely difficult to crawl out of. Sometimes everything works out well even after procrastinating: you got all your work done, and even got an A on the assignment. However, the stress isn’t worth it. It’s much more rewarding to finish all your tasks first, and then scroll through TikTok mindlessly. Plus: procrastination habits are only gonna get worse throughout high school, so it’s important to start off strong.

Form, or maintain positive relationships with your teachers and other students! Not only are teachers an important form of connection when it comes time to ask for letters of recommendation, or students when you need notes from a day of school you missed, it is also just morally correct to respect and treat others with kindness. School can often be stressful, so it may be hard to always put up a smiling face, but please remember that others are going through the same stress as you. This may sound corny, but one small act of kindness can often light up someone else’s entire day.

Join as many clubs as possible! Clubs are a great way to expand into different branches of careers, and are another way to find out your interests. This is especially true if you didn’t get your first-pick elective class, or simply want to find more hobbies. Additionally, leadership in clubs is a great way to boast on college applications (although that shouldn’t be the only reason why you apply to be a leader).

Try your best to maintain a socially acceptable sleep schedule. By socially acceptable, I mean at least six hours of sleep (because let’s be honest, eight hours of sleep is simply unrealistic sometimes), and sleeping before 1 AM at the very latest. There will be times in high school when you need to pull an all-nighter to finish a project or assignment, but it should not be the norm. Not only is it unhealthy and damaging to the body, it also makes you extremely unproductive at school the next day due to fatigue. Truly a lose-lose situation.

Image showcasing the after-effects of pulling an all-nighter over winter break. Photo by Jessica Wang.

You may think that even after some all-nighters, you don’t feel any fatigue or just feel perfectly fine. However, your memory of the information learned on that day actually worsens in comparison to if an all-nighter wasn’t pulled. According to “About Sleep’s Role in Memory”, a research article conducted by Björn Rasch and Jan Born, “Over more than a century of research has established the fact that sleep benefits the retention of memory.” So, it is already a well-known fact that more sleep equals a better memory. “Newer findings characterize sleep as a brain state optimizing memory consolidation, in opposition to the waking brain being optimized for encoding of memories,” stated the researchers. In other words, sleeping actually helps you retain the information with greater efficiency than a waking state. 

This one might sound a bit useless at first but, find or make yourself a really reliable playlist of your favorite songs. Once you’ve made or found a playlist like this, it will be your ride-or-die playlist when completing assignments. Oftentimes, when I feel unproductive but still have deadlines creeping up behind me, I simply turn on my favorite playlist and jam out to music while finishing work. I’ve found that time flies by, and doing homework seems fun. It’s a good way to manipulate your brain into associating finishing work with pleasure!

Finally, if you’re not a freshman, take advantage of your Gael period! There have been many times when I pulled an all-nighter studying for a test or finishing homework that I could have finished during my Gael period. I could have slept a few more hours, and still get studying done. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead and really really take advantage of that chunk of time during school. Now that there’s a block schedule, students essentially have almost two hours of free work time– so, make it useful!

I recognize that although these are my takeaways, I don’t always follow them. To be completely honest, I pulled an all-nighter tonight and I completely regret it now. However, high school is all about bettering yourself and growing as a human being. Make the best out of these four years, since I heard they go by fast– I already feel like my high school career is flying by. Go Gaels!