Things I Wish I’d Done in High School

high school

As a college sophomore going into my second semester, I’ve started thinking back to my years in high school.

Back then, I still lived in my parent’s house and got to see my dog every day. My biggest worries were what I’d wear to Prom and whether I’d get into my dream school. High school is often romanticized in teen movies as years of uncertainty, drama, and preparation for the future. Usually, what we see on screen isn’t what reality looks like. Still, it’s a stressful part of any teenager’s life.

When I think about my high school years, I realize there are plenty of things that I didn’t take advantage of. In high school, it’s the last time you’ll be surrounded by friends from your hometown. You’ll also be moving out soon, away from everything you know. Once you graduate, your life is bound to change. Because of that, I’ve come up with a list of things I wish I’d done in my four years of high school.


Traveling in high school gives you the opportunity to see more of the world and become better prepared for the big move to college or elsewhere. Personally, I didn’t travel very much in high school. I’d only leave my town for band or Model United Nations competitions. When I drastically changed scenery to live in the south for college, it was definitely a shock for me. Traveling more in high school can better prepare you for whatever locational changes you’ll face in college and beyond.

Other than that, traveling is a great way to visit awesome places and meet new people. I did get to visit Quebec in high school. I fell in love with the city and its culture. It was an amazing experience and allowed me to see another part of the world that I was unused to.

high school
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Got a Job

I never worked during high school. I simply didn’t have much time for it. Instead, I did marching band and writing. It was a really great use of my time, but a part of me wishes I’d gotten a job. No matter what sort of work it is, getting that experience early on can help you in other parts of your life.

Beyond that, it’s nice to have a bit of extra cash in high school. Since it’s likely you live under your parent’s roof and they pay for most of your necessities, this extra cash can be used as you please. It’s also useful in helping your parents out, for example, in buying the family’s groceries. Plus, with Christmas around the corner, it means you can buy people gifts out of your own pocket.

Joined More Clubs

Clubs are a great way to find a community and make a bunch of close friends with similar interests. Club fairs were my favorite events in high school. I got to walk around and visit a variety of booths, trying to figure out what my interests were. I always ended up signing on for a bunch of club list-servs, excited to become a part of these communities.

Still, I didn’t have a ton of time for clubs. I wished I’d made a bit more time to get involved. Beyond offering a friendly environment, clubs can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. In high school, you’re exposed to a bunch of different subjects. Which clubs you decide on can indicate what subjects you’re most interested in. For me, Model United Nations club merely affirmed my love for political science. This was also true for philosophy. Trying out different clubs can help you in eventually deciding what your college plans are.

Thought Less About My Future

Ironically, while considering college plans in high school may prepare you, I also think there’s a limit. While in high school, it’s hard not to think about where you’ll be in a couple years. Whether it’s college, a job, or moving abroad, the future seems cryptic and undetermined. Because of this, we all want to figure out where we’ll be early on.

I wish I’d thought less about my future in high school. It’s easy to get lost in panicked thoughts of, “What am I going to do after this?” and “How am I going to spend the rest of my life?” It’s still high school and getting caught up in these unknowns can only make you more anxious. This goes for nearly every period in your life – not just high school. If you focus too much on what comes next, you won’t spend enough time appreciating what you have.

Hung Out With Friends and Family More

In high school, I wish I’d hung out with people more. When you go to college, you leave all of these people behind – both friends and family. I only realized how much I loved the community I had in high school at my graduation party and my other senior events.

Everyone I knew throughout my four years had finally come together for one last hoorah. It made me realize that I’d had the ability to go shopping, go to the beach, and go on other adventures with all of these people for the past four years, but I hadn’t done it enough. More than that, I’d never really hung out with my siblings as much as I’d liked to.

high school
Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

While being surrounded by your family and high school friends seems normal since they’ve been with you your whole life, high school is the last time you’ll be with these exact people. As my principal said at my high school graduation, that was likely the last time our full class of 2018 would be together in the same space.

After high school, everyone goes their separate ways – to different colleges and different lives. You’ll even have to leave behind family as you set off on your own. It’s hard to think about but important to keep in mind. Take advantage of the fact that all of these people are around you.

Play board games with them. Go on wild adventures. Make the most of your time before everyone moves on into this unknown future.

While all of these bits of advice refer to high school, they don’t have to be confined to that experience. Even in college, I’m considering hanging out with people more and avoiding contemplating my future. It’s important to make the most of whatever stage of life you’re in. After all, we only have one life – don’t waste it.

Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash