4 Things You’re Not Prepared for in High School

High school is the best time of many people’s lives. For others, it’s a complete and utter nightmare. But for every high school student, there are a few things that you just can’t prepare yourself for, no matter how confident you may be about the future. While constant studying, homework, college prep and trying not to fall asleep in your classes might be consuming most of your brain, it’s likely that the other half is focused on your social life. The harsh reality of the matter, however, is that in the long run, many of these things don’t matter as much as you think they do – or even at all.

High school – and life after it – requires some preparation. Here are four areas that you might think you’re an expert in, but should really should read about, just to be safe.

  1. College

According to EdSource, a recent survey reported that less than half of the U.S. high school students feel they’re ready for college. No matter which side you’re on – ready or not ready – rest assured that there’s little that can prepare you for the actual experience, short of diving right in.

One way to prepare yourself for college is to take AP classes. The coursework will teach you critical thinking skills necessary to excel in the university classroom. When it comes to the application process, selecting a school and ultimately making your move onto campus, you’ll find yourself faced with an entirely new lifestyle.

In college, you’ll be living on your own, making your own schedule and facing new responsibilities; not to mention taking your education into your own hands. Appreciate what you have now, live in the moment. College will change you, in a good way.

  1. Life Skills… Seriously

Unfortunately, understanding the Pythagorean theorem will only get you so far. Many high schools don’t teach a lot of basic life skills, and you’re going to need those more than anything once you get into the real world. The Huffington Post wisely recommends that you educate yourself on life skills like finances, cooking and handling stress while you’re in high school.

Because unfortunately, you might not learn them any other way. You may not need help figuring out where to put the stamp on an envelope – as this particular Huffington Post writer lamented – one day you’re going to have to do things like sew buttons, file taxes, open a bank account and know how to do more in the kitchen than boil water. You’ll also have to manage necessities like auto and health insurance, that is, once you’re no longer eligible to be on your parents’ plan.

  1. Getting Auto Insurance

Getting your own car might be one of your biggest dreams and goals right now, but owning a car isn’t all made up of fun and driving off into the sunset. A car is an investment that you’ll have to put some serious thought into, and one of the biggest mistakes you can make is having those thoughts clouded by factors like what make and model will boost your popularity. And don’t forget about the fact that you’ll have to make car payments – and pay for insurance. Unfortunately, there’s no answer out there to help you pay (asides from your own financial planning), but when it comes time for you to look up the best car insurance for students, sites like CoverHound are a helpful resource. Figuring out various types of insurance on your own is just one of the things you’ll be dealing with later in your adult life.

  1. Relationships

This last item on the list will be brief, and maybe one of the hardest to remember. While there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to getting started on your dating life, the truth is that high school relationships aren’t always fruitful. They can seriously distract you and bring about undue stress. Staying with your high school sweetheart is pretty darn unlikely – and that’s coming straight from Psychology Today. In high school, you’re just not prepared for the level of maturity, understanding and commitment that a serious relationship needs to thrive.


Overall, keeping an open mind, staying humble, and taking initiative to educate yourself will all serve you well during high school and beyond. Eventually, you’ll be able to look back and feel proud, rather than reflecting on all of the things you wish you would have known or done to have made your life easier. Regardless, growing up is certainly no easy journey. But try to keep in mind that no matter what life throws at you, if you keep the proverbial good head on your shoulders, you’re going to survive it – guaranteed.

I’d do it differently

I entered college, fall 2003, a young and ambitious accounting major. I picked accounting because I  knew they made a lot of money and I was pretty bada$$ with a TI-83. While I did well in my first macroeconomics course, I quickly realized that “business” related subjects were of no interest to me. My introduction to psychology course, however, was a different story. I was fascinated by the content. I loved learning about the brain and how people work. I changed my major after my first semester, and eventually walked across the stage with a B.A. in Psych.

I don’t regret being a psych major for one minute. I loved my classes, LOVED my professors (I actually played tennis with them every Tuesday and Thursday morning), and just generally loved the whole psych department. That said, if I traveled back in time to 2003, I am 99% sure I would not graduate with a degree in psychology.

While I may have loved the content and the people in my major, I didn’t really love the career fields psych generally leads to (i.e. counseling). I almost feel like my degree limits my potential, especially when it comes to job hunting. My degree does very little to highlight my strengths. When a recruiter reviews my resume and sees a B.A. in Psychology, he is not going to know that I also took Organic Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, and Biochemistry (none of which were required by my major). While I could have taken “bowling”, “Intro to photography”, or some other class to satisfy the credits required to graduate, I decided to take challenging courses for my general electives.

Do I believe your major is the determining factor in one’s career potential? Absoultely not. But there are positions I would love to apply for, but can’t, simply because I don’t have a degree in business administration or the like. Take for example the Finance industry. It would be darn near impossible for me to land an interview for any kind of legitimate position in the financial sector… even though I may be more knowledgeable and capable than other applicants with business related degrees. Ten years down the road, I’m sure my education will become less of a factor with prospective employers, but when you are 24 years old, and have only a few years of work under your belt, you better believe your education is going to be HEAVILY considered.

That said, I refuse to let my degree be a limiting factor in my career growth. There are a million different means by which I can prove to my prospective employer that I really am the best candidate for the job, even if my degree is not specifically related to the field. And you better believe I will be highlighting each of those strengths during my next interview.

If I had the opportunity to do college again I would probably get my degree in Statistics or Math. And I would probably have gone to a state school instead of a private college (although I totally loved my school). Gosh, this makes me want to go punch a business major in the face (only kidding). Okay, I’m done dwelling on the past. Time to move forward.

What was your major in college?

If you could do college again, would you choose a different major?

If you didn’t go to college, do you wish you did?

Anyone out there that went to college, wish they hadn’t?

p.s. if you are wondering if you blew it when you picked your major, take a look at this chart of the ten “worst” college degrees…

College Degrees                Starting Salary

  1. Social Work                        $33,400
  2. Elementary Education         $33,000
  3. Theology                            $34,800
  4. Music                                 $34,000
  5. Spanish                              $35,600
  6. Horticulture                        $37,200
  7. Education                           $36,200
  8. Hospitality/Tourism           $37,000
  9. Fine Arts                            $35,800
  10. Drama                                $35,600

Do’s and Dont’s of college

Being that I am a semi recent college graduate (class of ’07), I figured I would throw in my two cents on the college experience, particularly in reference to one’s financial situation. I would say I had decent financial habits in college, but I was by no means perfect. Here are some “Do’s and Dont’s” to you get you through those four years unscathed…

Do look in to going to a public school. I made the decision to go private and man oh man did I pay for that choice. My school ran about $30k/yr, quite a bit different than the $5K-10k/yr public school options. Looking back I wish I would have considered going to the University of Washington. Heck, it’s probably a more prestigious school, and definitely better known, than my Alma mater. It’s okay though, I don’t regret my choice as I had the best four years of my life, but I SHOULD have explored public options more carefully.

Don’t drop out. Yeah that’s right. If you start college…finish. I can’t tell you how many kids I went to school with that didn’t come back after the first year. They paid $30K for that one year, and don’t have a degree to show for it. School can be hard, life happens, and money will be an issue, but you better do everything in your power to make sure you graduate from somewhere, even if it’s PDU (Punch Debt University).

Do work part time. I don’t care if you are working 5hrs/wk or 40hrs/wk, but try and make some money. I know, being a full time student can be stressful, but I bet part of that stress comes from being broke. You don’t need to be earning enough to contribute to a Roth IRA (although that would definitely be sexy), I just want you to be able to cover the majority of your personal expenses (food, clothes, school stuff, etc). It also will give you something to put on your resume come graduation time. Think about it, if you were on a hiring panel would you hire someone who graduated college with a 3.5 GPA and no work experience or someone with a 3.5 GPA who also had a job during those four years? I’m going with the latter.

Don’t use that fricken credit card you signed up for. Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been watching you. Some dude at a booth said “Hey fill out an application for this credit card and we will give you this frisbee” and you filled it out didn’t you…DIDN’T YOU!? I too took advantage of a “free shirt” offer, but I actually lied on the application and input all fake info (which I think is actually a crime, but I didn’t know it at the time). Fortunately, I never accumulated a credit card balance while in school and you need to do the same. This is a non-negotiable. Credit cards can not be the means by which you provide yourself food and textbooks.

Do get good grades. Sounds like a no brainer right? But are you really applying yourself in all of your classes. I sure didn’t. In fact I got an A in Organic Chemistry, but a B in Art 101. I picked and chose which classes I wanted to succeed in and where I was okay falling short. I wish I could go back in time and try just a little bit harder. When you graduate your GPA is going to be a huge bartering tool for you. Yes, your college GPA will become less important as you establish yourself in the work place, but until that time comes, it is your most valuable asset. If you graduated with honors don’t be shy about telling your prospective employers about it during an interview. It shows that you are dedicated to working hard and doing well.

Don’t grow up too fast. If you are the typical 20-something college student you have a responsibility requirement to act like it. Have fun. Pull stupid pranks on your dorm mates. Stay up really late and watch movies. Once you graduate college, you have to enter the 9-5 world, and let me tell you… it ain’t pretty. Midnight burrito runs are a thing of the past. Enjoy the college lifestyle.

Do take advantage of EVERYTHING your school has to offer. I was heavily involved in various college activities. Sporting events, clubs, organizations, all at your fingertip. There are so many FREE programs available to college students, you would have to be stupid to not take advantage of them. You aren’t stupid, are you?

So there ya have it, some of my thoughts on the college experience. Take them with a grain of salt as they are only my opinions, and last time I checked, my opinion meant nothing.

I’d love to get some more input on today’s post (especially if you are still in college)

1) For those in school, what year are you and where do you go?

2) For those that have graduated, any other Do’s or Dont’s you would add to the list?

3) Any other advice, support, or comments you would like to mention?