Advice for Underclassmen

After four years of surviving the ups and downs that inevitably come with every high school experience, many grains of wisdom are accumulated. Here are some tidbits of wisdom from my own experiences at MHS. Take it as you will.

1. Find your passions, and build upon them.

When it becomes time to apply to college, many of you will inevitably apply as potential Computer Science majors. While it’s understandable to want to remain employed once one graduates, do ask yourself this question first: Is it really what you want to spend years of your life doing?
You don’t have to take the road imposed on you by your parents and the media. If you find something you love to do, and work at it to become the best in the field, you’ll ultimately be fine.
In addition, don’t try to join every club on campus, or the ones you see everyone else doing, if you think that will somehow be the panacea that gets you into Harvard. Admissions officers will accept the candidate with a better story rather than a longer resume every time, and a better story to tell in your application essay will surely exist if you decide to join two or three clubs and are actually involved in.

2. Don’t rule out trying things simply because of money.

It happens every year. People don’t join some CLOGs/activities because it’s “too expensive,” or refuse to apply to UCs or private schools because “I can’t afford the tuition.” While cost is certainly a concern in anything you might want to do, don’t let it be a deal-breaker.
Many MHS students don’t apply to private schools like the University of Southern California (USC) or Santa Clara University (SCU) simply because they take one glance at what tuition supposedly costs a year and decide to flush that college dream down the drain. What they don’t realize, however, is that barely anyone actually pays the full amount of that tuition unless they happen to be in the bourgeoise and are denied any financial aid. There are plenty of organizations that provide scholarships, and one program in particular that can possibly get you a full ride for college: Questbridge. If you are willing to look, there is plenty of money that one can utilize to pay for college.
Don’t be afraid of student loans as well. Debt was meant be a tool to aid people in moving up in society and achieving their goals, not an obstacle hindering them from fulfilling their dreams. It allows relatively normal people to access privileges otherwise limited to the upper class in return for working harder later on. If debt and credit didn’t exist, people wouldn’t own houses or start businesses. If you’re willing to work that much harder to accomplish what your goals are, don’t let the simple fact of owing money stop you from doing so.
On clubs and other activities, don’t be afraid to dig into your wallets. Don’t let a membership fee or other expenses stop you from pursuing what may become an unforgettable experience. If you truly want to do something, fundraise or ask for financial assistance from members in the community. To simply give up on something because of a lack of money at this point in your life is completely avoidable and unnecessary.

3. Do what the flight attendant tells you to.

You hear the best piece of life advice you can get every time you fly somewhere when safety instructions are being announced: “Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.” The gist is simple: take care of your own needs before you tend to others. While this may sound selfish, it is ultimately what you need to do in your years of high school, and applies to every spectrum of life as a teenager. Don’t prioritize what others want from you before your own well-being, academically or otherwise. Ultimately, you need to do whatever is best for yourself and learn to say “No.” Whether it be finding a new group of friends or choosing academics over the social event that everyone else is going to, you have to realize that others may not have your best interests at heart, and you are responsible for your own future and well-being. Put your mask on first.

Now that I’ve imparted the most important things I’ve learned from high school, I hope it’ll let you make better decisions and gain new insights. Stay gold.

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