Senior Column – Jennifer Fuerte

Jennifer Fuerte, Staff Writer

And just like that, four long years of high school have passed, and I’m now a graduating senior! These past four years at Arcadia were great and all, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any regrets. Whether it’s not getting involved enough or wasting my time, I’ve faced those challenges and have seen the consequences. Now that I’m a senior, I think I’m fairly qualified to provide some high school advice I wish I had heard earlier on as a freshman. However, feel free to interpret my advice with varying levels of seriousness because I can be overdramatic.

 

  • Do more things outside of school

It has to be said. I really do recommend loading up on extracurriculars early on as an underclassman, because not only will it look spicy on your college applications, but it will also make your high school years more meaningful outside of school, which is actually important for personal development. For one, being committed to an extracurricular that’s related to your future career shows that you’re ambitious and willing to sacrifice your time outside of school for that experience. On the other hand, extracurriculars can provide you with a chance to try new things that you might end up gaining a passion for and opportunities to meet people with the same interests as you. It’s a win-win situation, and the only cost of doing extracurriculars is time. On the same note, don’t force yourself to do extracurriculars that have nothing to do with your future career or don’t appeal to you at all. I’ve witnessed people volunteering for the sake of it “looking good on applications” when it often had nothing to do with what they planned on majoring in. Once these same people resigned, they often expressed regret of joining because they realized that they gained nothing substantial from it. However, if you do have a genuine interest in something without it applying to your future career, by all means, do it because you’ll be having fun.

  • Go to more dances.

Yes, I already know that dances can be pretty expensive depending on the venue and occasion, but unless you genuinely need to save money, you should try to go to as many dances as possible if you have friends that are willing to tag along. If your friends aren’t into dances, then you either need to find new friends or just not go at all because it can be likes that sometimes. However, my main point is that dances are really fun and characteristic of high school, no matter how questionable they can get sometimes. I didn’t start going to dances until my junior year, and only then did I realize how much I was missing out on. To start, going to dances gives you an excuse to dress up and be as extra as you’d like without anyone judging you. This is especially true for all you fashionistas out there, but dressing up better than normal is really fun, and it’s one of the few occasions where I have the chance to express that side of myself. Secondly, it gives you an excuse to hang out late with your friends and eat. Dances are special occasions, so this means that you have a legit reason to stay out late to hang out and eat good food. Sure, the actual dance might be fun, but truly, the best moments happen before and after the dance. During those times, you’ll make memories and bond with people who like to have fun, which is always a good thing for us students.

  • Explore the local community more.

This is probably more of my problem than anyone else’s, but I didn’t realize how cool the Arcadia community was until late into my senior year. I’m not talking about the restaurants, boba, and the mall, though. I’m talking about the more historical places in Arcadia and the surrounding towns. There are plenty of old restaurants, diners, and businesses with a certain character that I didn’t know existed. The reason why I regret not exploring Arcadia more is that I realized that once we all graduate, most of us will be moving away from here for college. The issue with that is that most of us have lived in Arcadia since birth without really tasting the real local culture, or at least, I didn’t because I lacked the initiative to go out. Sure, I do think the numerous boba shops around Arcadia are amazing and all, but we shouldn’t be limiting ourselves to the same places every day. I know some people who get boba every single day for lunch, and I can only wonder how they don’t get sick of it. Instead, I feel like we should use our precious time in Arcadia to explore old local spots and see what else Arcadia has to offer. Granted, you can’t really do that unless you can drive, but either way, I wish I had made an effort to try other kinds of food in Arcadia when I had time on the weekends. We live in a pretty cool area, according to Yelp, so why not see what’s good?

  • Don’t force yourself to be friends with people you’ve been friends with since middle school.

Hopefully, none of them are reading this, but I’m guilty of doing this. I’m not sure if it was because I was too scared and unconfident in myself to find new friends or something else, but I made the mistake of restricting myself to the same group of people since middle school. This doesn’t have to be a problem, but it became a problem for me in high school because I underwent a lot of changes in my personality and interests, and as a result, I didn’t really get along with them on a deeper level, if you know what I mean. However, I still stuck with them, and for a good chunk of my high school years, I never felt inclined to hang out with them because I felt too out of place, and this caused me to have a pretty dull social life. Because of this, I can’t really remember doing anything really fun until late into my junior year when I started branching out more in terms of social circles. Instead of doing what I did, I highly suggest joining a club, extracurricular, class, or team that you are genuinely interested in. In those environments, you’re guaranteed to meet people with similar passions and interests, and most often, you’ll bond as time passes because you’re with them. However, I always felt like I bonded better with people I shared activities with, so I probably should have applied that logic to my close friend group. I won’t be making this same mistake in college.

  • Become passionate for what you want to do in the future earlier on.

It can be really stressful to be put into a high-paced school environment and have to decide which career you plan on doing for the rest of your life. I get that. However, deciding what you want to do earlier on is immensely helpful in setting yourself up for success and happiness in the future. For one, you’ll be able to register for classes and extracurriculars that are more applicable to your future career with ease. Like I mentioned earlier, don’t waste your time in classes and extracurriculars that you don’t care for or have no substantial benefit for you. By deliberating what career path you want earlier on, you won’t have to deal with that. For me, since I decided that I wanted to become a nurse pretty late into high school, I was stuck taking an AP class that wrecked my GPA and did not have a significant application to my future career. Instead of taking Human Anatomy, which is very applicable to nursing, I was stuck in this class, though that’s not to say the class was terrible. It just made me feel unfulfilled most of the time since I wasn’t performing as well as I thought I would. That being said, don’t rush on selecting your future career, but you should at least consider the general academic area earlier on. For example, if you want to go into the medical field but aren’t sure what to specialize in, you can at least plan your class schedule ahead and register for classes that are applicable to the medical field like biology. By finding something to be passionate for early in high school, you’ll be able to make academic decisions easier and lessen the stress of choices overall.

Hopefully, by reading this, you’ve gained a bit of insight on how to enhance your high school experience. These were things that I personally felt like I should have done once I started high school, but at the same time, I don’t think they’re all critical for success and happiness. There are always alternate ways to obtain happiness. However, I do think that all of these tips contribute toward developing your personality and identity, so don’t be afraid to apply my advice to your own life. That being said, I think the best thing to do as a high schooler is to maintain a balance between your academic life, personal life, and social life for the sake of having a fulfilling high school experience.