The Rule of Five: 5 best decisions I made in high school

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Tara Patterson

High school is a time for trying new things and preparing for college, and I am so appreciative of several opportunities I took advantage of in high school (especially traveling to Italy- that's me in an ancient castle in Assisi!)

I’ve been feeling nostalgic and reflective this week, so this week’s edition of The Rule of Five is a bit more like an advice column. As time seems to be flying by quicker and quicker each day and the days until graduation decrease, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on my years in high school and everything I’ve done that’s gotten me to where I am now. I’ve done so much growing in the four years of high school, and several decisions I’ve made stick out to me as being the most influential choices of my teenage years, including:

  1. Taking AP Human Geography

Four years ago, I was a wary freshman, nervously considering the implications of taking an AP class. I’d heard that AP classes were a ton of reading and writing, and I was worried about the difficulty that would come with taking a college class. However, looking back at my high school experience as a whole, I realized that choosing to take AP Human was one of the best decisions I made in my freshman year. AP Human taught me how to learn and think differently and I gained study skills that have stuck with me for all four years of high school. I would highly recommend the class to any eighth graders considering taking their first AP.

  1. Joining a sport

I joined the cross country team in tenth grade, starting off as a back of the pack, below-average runner, and I finished my last season in the fall, as a back of the pack, below-average runner. Basically, I was never that great at running, but with cross country, that didn’t really matter as long as I tried to improve all the time. Being on a sports team in high school not only taught me the value of discipline and determination, but also allowed me to be a part of a fun and accepting community wherein I competed for something bigger than myself.

Me running my first 5k as a sophomore... You can't really tell from this picture but I was definitely suffering.
Rebecca Meaker
Me running my first 5k as a sophomore… You can’t really tell from this picture but I was definitely suffering.
Me running as a senior... Still suffering but this time with a carefully cultured smirk for the camera.
Rebecca Meaker
Me running as a senior… Still suffering but this time with a carefully cultured smirk for the camera.
  1. Traveling abroad

Also in tenth grade, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Italy for spring break with a group of Lambert students, and the trip was definitely one of the highlights of my high school career. I was so nervous before the plane took off, but I quickly got over my fears and had an incredible and enlightening trip. I learned how to manage things like exchanging money and navigating through maze-like cities, and I also experienced the culture of another country, something I had never done before. I know traveling abroad is not feasible for everyone, but I believe it is an excellent opportunity to take if you’re ever given the chance.

Me with some friends next to the Coliseum in Rome. Seeing the huge, decrepit arena in person was humbling and eye-opening, definitely one of my most memorable moments in high school.
Jordan Meaker
Me with some friends next to the Coliseum in Rome. Seeing the huge, decrepit arena in person was humbling and eye-opening, definitely one of my most memorable moments in high school.
  1. Taking a class outside of my comfort zone

Last year, when I was a junior, I found myself in the predicament of having to choose a new elective to take. I wanted to take something fun and different, so I pretty much randomly chose photography, without knowing much about the class and without knowing anyone else who was taking it. I ended up loving the class and learning so many new things, meeting new people, and perfecting my Photoshop skills. My advice to anyone searching for a class to take to fill up an empty period would be to branch out and try something different, because you might end up having a really good time.

A Photoshop masterpiece I made for Photography... I loved learning new skills and completing interesting projects.
Jordan Meaker
A Photoshop masterpiece I made for Photography… I loved learning new skills and completing interesting projects.
  1. Taking only 6 periods my senior year

This year I had the opportunity to do IE squared, so I decided to take one less class period than previous years. While this decision was partially motivated by the increasing reality of the affliction known as “senior-itis”, I mostly decided to take six classes so that I could devote more time to applying for colleges, playing sports, and spending more time with my family before I leave home. Having only six periods this year definitely takes away a lot of stress, and it allows me to take advantage of other opportunities outside of school.

That’s all my advice for having a full and fun high school experience, but of course, what worked for me in high school won’t work for everyone! For up-coming freshmen and underclassmen, my best advice would be to consider what you enjoy doing and what you are interested in trying for the first time, and don’t be afraid to do those things. In all, it’s important to have a high school career that you will be proud to look back on in the future.