Four Years Wiser

By Georgia Wyess

Times flies. You won’t believe me, but it does. Reminiscing on my first day of freshman year, the concept of a one-and-a-half hour class terrified me, teachers walked with an air of authority that intrigued me, and the two other people who I knew at school huddled with me. Senior year seemed so far away. The “upperclassmen” were the ones with recognition and an almost pious following. The title seemed so distant yet, here I am.

Senior year was supposed to come with a grand adventure. I was supposed to go on “productive” study dates with friends where we end up fooling around rather than working. I was meant to go to football games with friends and cheer on our high school team. I was supposed to shake my teacher’s hands as I received my diploma. All of this I was meant to experience with my peers, mentors, and most importantly, friends; not with my laptop.

But along with trials and tribulations, come lessons and experiences I would not trade for the world. Ultimately, high school, once stripped bare, is an experience you make for yourself. What you take away from a classroom, a dance, or a rally is what will stay with you for the remainder of your life. The memories aren’t going anywhere, so hold tight to the good ones.

So, Freshman, listen up. It’s in your name: “fresh.” This is a “fresh” new experience and you define what high school is going to mean for you. Though I can’t say I experienced four years in the institution you attend—more like two and a half years with COVID-19—I still value the time and the lessons which I learned, and I want to pass them onto you.

  1. Appreciate the Present: Steve Jobs once said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” I’ve learned to trust the process. What I know now, I had no way of knowing in the past—simply because I had yet to experience it. Your past is a memory and the future is yet to come so enjoy your present, it’s the best one you’re going to get.
  2. Keep an open mind: The people, in the end, are really what make the high school experience exciting. Talk to your classmates, talk to your teachers, form friendships with others. You can learn from other’s past experiences and translate that knowledge into useful tips. Teachers can shed light on their time in high school and the college experience you are yet to have, while also helping you not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well.
  3. Appreciate your teachers: I hate waking up early and I’ll bet so do most of the people at Westmont. Guess what? Teachers have to wake up earlier. They have lesson plans to create and meetings to attend, all to prepare only for a couple days (don’t even mention the whole year). Unfortunately for them, the work follows them home too; grading papers and tests take time, and it’s imperative. All in all, your teachers do so much more than you see in the classroom, and they’re people, with lives outside of school. Appreciate their dedication to come into class everyday—we wouldn’t have the opportunity at an education without them.

There are many more takeaways from high school to share but those you’ll have to figure out on your own. It’s going to be a wild ride and there will be highs and lows, but know that you can’t have the highs without the lows in the first place. You’ll come out on the other side four years wiser—make sure you enjoy the path—don’t get too caught up with the end result.