Grade nine: The beginning of high school and an experience like no other. Some students love it while others hate it, yet it is a period of time that sets the foundation for adulthood. Here are some helpful tips to get you on your way.

Be yourself. I cannot stress this enough. In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “there is no one more youer than you.” There is only one you, so as you evolve over the next four years of high school always remember that you must own your experience and actions. Do something because you truly want to do it, not because someone is forcing you. Nonetheless, this is also the time to take risks and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Also, don’t get too caught up in popularity contests. First, it’s not worth it if your grades will suffer. Second, your popularity in high school isn't worth much after graduation. Everyone goes off on different paths and you'll likely be facing new people without your “clique”.

Get involved.  You will regret it if you don’t. Sign up for clubs that interest you. It has been suggested that the more involved students become in extracurricular activities, the better they are academically. I was on the dance team and the sense of community and teamwork made attending school more fun. Don’t be afraid to make new friends. In fact, make as many meaningful connections as you can because you never know where these relationships will take you in the future. This is called networking! High school is what you make of it, so enjoy making the best of it.

Don’t let things snowball. Keep on top of your homework and assignments because if you don’t they will only pile up and you might struggle with getting back on top. More than likely you will have homework every night so don’t fight it and set aside a few hours every evening to get things completed. Also, with assignments and major projects it is best to plan ahead on how you will get them completed. Pulling all-nighters usually don’t work. Plan for a couple of sessions to work on assignments this will allow time for you to thoroughly check your work. Remember, if you run into obstacles do not be afraid to ask for help. Your teachers are there to help you. No, they won’t hold your hand, but will be more than happy to help if you are looking for insight. Also, spending more time with your teacher asking fruitful questions will help your working relationship and in turn make you a better student. 

Have fun. Enjoy all the lovely breaks you will have (ex. March Break) because once in the working world some of those might disappear. Try to get out and explore the world as much as possible. Travel within the province, country or internationally with your family or school. Ask your teacher or guidance counselor if your school is organizing a trip. School trips leave memories of a lifetime and characterize your high school years (see “Benefits of Student Travel”). Also, look into exploring new sites or events within your city. For example, visiting the Royal Ontario Museum as a teen is a lot different than when you were seven. Bottom line, explore the outdoors and try to find yourself as much as you can while you have the time.

Don’t stress about grade nine. It’s an exciting time and an adventure that you will never get to experience again. Remember, everyone around you is also in grade nine and therefore in the same boat and probably feeling the same as you. Good luck.

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