Graduated: Advice to High Schoolers

As I prepare to enter my first year of college, it’s a time of high emotion and intense reflection—especially on my four years of high school. For this second installation of this post-graduation series, I’ve compiled the advice I would have given my starry-eyed 14-year-old self. It’s advice I would give anyone who’s starting or progressing through high school. Enjoy!




The little gradations in grades don’t matter. Seriously.

You’ll sometimes hear graduates give this advice to current high schoolers: Grades don’t matter! Grades really don’t matter! To a certain extent, it’s absolutely true. Small gradations don’t matter—in colleges’ eyes, the difference between 94s and 97s is negligible. The only thing it does is affect your rank, which colleges don’t weigh heavily anyway (sometimes they totally ignore it) because each (ranking!) school ranks students using a different system. Westlake High School ranks students differently from Westwood High School, and Austin schools are very different from Chicago schools.

I knew all of this as I progressed in high school, but that didn’t stop me from freaking out when I got a 93 on my first APUSH test. Or studying for four hours before every WHAP test. Or studying my butt off and stressing myself to exhaustion the entire week before each Linear Algebra test.

Don’t do it.

Not worth it.

When you hear people give this kind of advice, you probably think something along these lines: It’s easy for them to say that grades don’t matter. But they are where they are now because they cared a lot about grades during high school. If they had taken their own advice about caring less about grades, they wouldn’t have gotten into these colleges. So I have to keep caring. Continue reading


Protected: Graduated: Senior Reflections

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Unselfish Vulnerability

Today, in Capstone Research, we continued discussing a research article analyzing the movie Big Hero 6. It thoroughly examined the setting of the film and its characters, making the argument that the film doesn’t fully realize its potential to move us forward in deeply accepting other cultures. A main sentence from the paper’s abstract: “Big Hero 6‘s agenda to promote hybridity is undermined by latent hierarchies suggested by the process of its world construction and binary oppositions constraining the development of its secondary characters.”

I didn’t like it for the primary and petty reason that I found the writing style was eloquent at best and almost overbearingly dense at worst. Therefore, going into the meat of the piece, I already had preconceived notions—that the author was pretentious. That then helped me see the piece as a ‘Social Justice Warrior’-type perspective on race—did the author really need to find fault with something as basic as the landscape of San Fransokyo? Did the movie directors really need to fully explore each side character’s backstory in order to fully promote a message about race? Continue reading

How To Enter Senior Year

(Disclaimer: I speak recognizing my place as an incredibly privileged, upper-middle-class student. More on that later.)

1. With trepidation.

Because we’re human. And we’ve been waiting for this. I know that for me, I often think, “I’m never going to be 30,” or “Yeah right, people get married, but that’s never going to be me.” Throughout middle school, I lived in an “I’m never going to be a high schooler: that’s crazy.” Throughout high school, I’ve convinced myself, “I’m never going to be a senior—never going to reach the college application stage and face those beasts. That’s crazy.”

Here I am.

Time works real weird when we quantify and personify it like that, and so here I am, much too quickly, near the end of my high school career. Tomorrow is going to be my last first day. This is going to be my last HS fall semester. It’s mind-blowing to think that I’m at the ’12’ in ‘K-12,’ and simultaneous with the thrill of being on top and in sight of the tunnel-end light… is some variation of fear.

Continue reading

Advice to Future Juniors

Junior year is hard. You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again, and soon, you’ll be saying it yourself. I just came out of it alive, as a student at Westlake High. Here are my two cents on junior year survival.


1. Treat your time like money. 

Continue reading

A Semester in Review

I’m going to start off by saying that this was hands-down, no-doubt the worst and hardest semester of my life. But I’m going to continue by saying that much of that has had to do with my selfish attitude, more than anything.

It seemed like everything I earnestly tried, I failed. Even the things I’d taken for granted that I’d obtain (Latin Club elections). So many things going wrong, that nearly every week there was a new crisis (I must sound so pathetic and self-absorbed right now; sorry). Each crisis would prompt a full-on crying session in Latin (1st period) or APUSH (8th), and if the latter, it’d usually continue into the car with Marika who has had to comfort and calm me too many times this semester. Continue reading