Make the most of your last year in high school by taking this advice from former Key Clubbers.
By Samantha Kupiainen
More than 3.2 million students are expected to graduate high school in 2019, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. After graduation, students will pursue their own unique endeavors — college, technical school, apprenticeships, the military or even entering the workforce full-time.
But don’t rush toward donning that cap and gown and closing the book on the last four years of your high-school life. Consider these words of encouragement and advice from four former Key Club members on how to finish high school on a high note and transition into a new normal.
- Say yes to new things and experiences. Challenge yourself to try things you do not know how to do or pursue opportunities you wouldn’t expect yourself to try. According to Victoria Lai, former district governor for California-Nevada-Hawaii, exposing yourself to new experiences and situations will make you an “awesome” candidate for future jobs. Not only that, it helps you find what you’re good at or passionate about. “The earlier you start doing this,” says Lai, “the better.”
- But it’s also OK to say no if you’re getting overwhelmed. As student leaders, it can become easy to tackle every opportunity and never hesitate to say yes. But being able to say no allows you to focus on the things most important to you, advises Sam Varie, a former Key Club president from Indiana. Varie once believed saying no was a sign of weakness. In reality, he explains, saying no takes great strength and displays that you know what you do and do not want and what you can and cannot handle.
- Practice awareness. This could be global awareness, political awareness and/or awareness in your personal life. Your senior year gets busy, and it becomes easy to dismiss the importance of understanding what is going on in the world, or even in your personal life. But, says Lai, as emerging leaders of our society, it’s our job to be knowledgeable about the world around us. A good way to practice awareness is by reading or researching.
- Don’t wish time away. Many high school seniors count down the days until graduation and don’t really enjoy their last year of school. For Sally Finkel, a former Key Club president and lieutenant governor from Indiana, watching the clock tick down the hours until graduation kept her from really appreciating the end of high school. She advises soon-to-be grads to enjoy this year and not take the people they are with for granted. Madison Cox, a former Key Club district governor, agrees. The final year of high school will most likely be the last time that you’ll be with your classmates and peers as a group, so do all that you can with your friends. Having a night out with friends and eating at your favorite restaurant as many times as you want will all be worth it, Cox says. It’s true that high school friends go their separate ways, so make every moment count. Also, be spontaneous and do something in your hometown that you’ve never done. And most importantly, spend time with the people you love.