With course selections coming up, many students in the STA community feel anxious about the thought of making big decisions about their future. Looking at university requirements and the necessary prerequisites can be intimidating, especially when you are not sure about what you want to go into. Looking at courses and feeling like you are not smart enough, or do not have high enough marks to get into your dream university program can be pretty discouraging. For our junior students, this seems to be a very important year, with the level name change, from academic to university, applied to college, heavier course loads, change from junior to senior sports, and feeling like you are at the beginning of the end of your high school career. While all of this seems to be overwhelming, trust me, it’s not. These are 7 things I wish I knew before Grade 11!
- Learn to adapt.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed all of our lives and we had to adapt quickly to our new surroundings. Even without a pandemic forcing this growth, being able to adapt is a very important skill we should all have. While everyone has had a different experience with COVID, we can all say that we have had to change our routines. Being adjustable and understanding that change is not a bad thing, is a vital skill in a world that never stays static.
- Keep your options open.
One of the biggest differences between Grade 10 and Grade 11 is all the new courses you can take and all your new elective slots. Some students decide to drop science, take multiple tech courses, take a few phys ed classes, fast track, the combination of courses are endless. One of the most important things about Grade 11 is being able to make responsible decisions, taking a few fun courses, as well as taking some of the difficult courses you may need to take to stay on track for your post-secondary plans. Keeping your options open is vital in minimizing stress when it comes to university or college plans because you won’t have to worry about not having a required prerequisite course. It is also important to keep your schedule well rounded so you don’t lose your work ethic.
When I was going into Grade 11, I was hyper-focused on what I wanted my post-secondary plan to be, and when it didn’t work out, I spiraled and started dwelling on what I wanted to happen 3 or 4 years in the future and I lost sight of what was actually happening. If I could go back in time, I would NOT let myself do that. Relax. Grade 11 is no different from Grade 10 and if your plans happen to change, accept it, and work towards a new path. If you are in a course that seems too challenging for you, it is completely okay to get a tutor, drop down a level, or just drop the course completely. It does not make you any less smart, you are just realizing your strengths and weaknesses. It is much better to find this out in high school than three years down the road. In Grade 10, I wanted to be a wildlife biologist, but when I got to Grade 11 Functions and Chemistry, I realized that my brain is not wired for math or chemistry. However, I seemed to excel in English. Now I am in Grade 12 and I am starting to receive acceptance letters to the English programs I applied to. It is worse to stay in a course that is lowering your average because you think you need it, than rethinking your plan and making the necessary adjustments that work best for you.
- Your mental health comes before everything.
As we all know, being under constant stress is not fun and this will reflect in your marks. Taking care of your mental health is key to having a successful year. Discovering new ways to stay happy and healthy will benefit you for so many different reasons. Finding a club to join, trying out for a new sport, going for runs, listening to music, or just talking to your friends about things that make you happy. Find works for you and stick with it!
- Find your friends and stay close to them.
As you go through life, it is natural to outgrow friends and find new people to spend time with. It is healthy to part with individuals with whom you might have been close. They served their purpose in bettering you, and you bettered them, but your needs no longer intertwine. When you find your friends, stick with them and do what you can to learn from your relationships. Friends who pressure you into doing things you are not comfortable with may not be the people you need in your life. Finding a supportive friend or group of friends is one of the best ways to improve and learn more about yourself, and will help you have the best year possible.
- Allow yourself to learn from your mistakes.
Growing up brings new experiences, opportunities, and forces you to step outside of your comfort zone. While these aspects of life almost always have a positive outcome, there are some situations that you will encounter where you will make a mistake. It is important to learn from your mistakes and find a way to avoid that situation in the future. Allow yourself to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them, because that is the best way to learn. High school has the potential to teach you many valuable lessons but, you need to be open to learning them.
- Try new things.
For some, Grade 11 signifies the beginning of the end of your high school career and many students realize they were not involved enough, or they missed out on things for a variety of reasons. The best way to avoid this feeling is to step out of your comfort zone and take a leap of faith! It is fun to explore new things you didn’t know you enjoyed or connect with an old hobby you used to enjoy. The STA community has an extensive list of clubs and sports teams open for all students so it never hurts to try something new! Trying new things can extend to outside your school life, like picking up a new sport, or exploring new part-time job opportunities. There are hundreds of ways to get more involved in the community!
One of the best things about Grade 11 was the experience of being one of the leaders in the school, while not having the pressure of senior year. You still have lots of time to figure out what you want to do, and what you will do to get there. Remember to have as much fun as possible and make this the most memorable year yet!