Listen kids, the next four years of your life are no joke. Freshmen, are you ready? In addition to wearing the right brands and having the proper accessories (iPhone, ear buds, and a bad attitude), there are trends and people to follow and cliques from which to be excluded. You’ll also want to study a little and possibly pay attention in class a few days a month.
As a sophomore, you’ll find your niche and a group of pals with whom you will make bad decisions. Junior year will be more of the same, but with a different group of people since the big “Sophomore Falling Out.” During the middle of your junior year, you may feel a sense of urgency that you can’t quite put your finger on. Hint: it’s because the end is drawing nigh.
Then it’s senior year! Senior year is about self-discovery, continuing as a follower or breaking out as a leader, choosing between college or career, and coming to the terrifying realization that your teachers aren’t graduating with you. Will the real world be as forgiving as high school? Probably not. Will your employer continually extend and change deadlines to give you multiples opportunities for success like your teachers and principals? Negative. Keep your head on a swivel, kids; life after high school will make or break you.
As an educator, my goal is to help you succeed in our course and, ultimately, in life, and today’s lesson was designed with you in mind. By adhering to these tips, you will excel in high school. Or, at the very least, ensure that your teachers won’t hate you.
Always ask questions and voice concerns (concerns about course content, not a yeast infection <— that really happened). My job is to give you what you need. But if what you need is a gynecologist and/or to keep your pants on, for the love of everything holy, go to the school the nurse.
Be proactive. If you know you’re going to miss class, give me a heads up. If you’re going to be out on a week’s vacation to Disney World because your parents didn’t get the memo that Mickey is available June – August, you’re taking all of your work to the Magic Kingdom.
a. Cursing: don’t do it. One of you submitted an essay with the title “Fuck This” emblazoned in 46-point font on the title page. Aside from the obvious (it should have been italicized and not in quotes), the use of an F-bomb is generally frowned upon. I’m as liberal as they come, so if I’m saying it, you know it must be real talk.
b. Capitalization: unlike cursing, i encourage this practice.
c. Communication: I’m sure your mother is a very nice person; however, I do not wish to spend all of my free time on the phone with her. Especially if she is an ignorant loud-mouth who wants to enable you to be a lazy waste of space rather than hold you accountable for your actions. You will earn respect by fending for yourself instead of out-sourcing all those dirty little jobs like talking to a human being.
d. Cheating: another no-no, but not for the reasons you think. Sure it’s dishonest, can be a form of stealing, blahblahblah. But do you have any friggin’ idea how long it takes me to straighten that shit out? I’ve got to find the original source (forgetting to disable the hyperlinks in your final draft is helpful, and I thank those of you who are committed to this practice); make copies of the original and your work to give to my principals and your helicopter nightmare of a parent who, despite the glaring evidence, will blame me for “making you feel the need to cheat;” and then I’ve got to give you another chance. I don’t mind the latter so much, as life is about second chances. But not third, sixth, or fifteenth chances. Yet, I’m professionally bullied into enabling you. If you’ve submitted the same essay four different times plagiarized four different ways, and included a personalized note that reads, “This was really tough but I did my best!”, you’re obviously headed for a career scraping carrion off of the freeways; why should I bother reviewing proper MLA formatting with you? In sum, I’m busy. Don’t cheat, mmmmkay?
And because you’re always looking for some extra credit, I’ve added a bonus opportunity to the lesson:
Don’t be a dickhead. This is an invaluable piece of advice, yet some of you don’t heed its weighty benefits.
There you have it, The ABC’s of Succeeding in High School. I wish you all the best and remember: I’m here to help. Go get’m, tiger.
Stephanie, wife of one, mother of two, English teacher of many, rants about parenting, education, and stupid people over at her place, WhenCrazyMeetsExhaustion. She would like to thank her husband for not leaving her, and her entire family for providing enough writing fodder to last a lifetime. Follow her crazy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and, if you’re really bored, Instagram.
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