Things To Learn Before You Finish High School

I wrote this guide based on my experiences in high school and college as well as my observations as a Sunday school teacher and high school math teacher.

Each post covers a different topic. If you wish to use the advice on this, I recommend that you talk to your parents and have them read the post with you to help you put what it says into practice.

Anything else that comes to mind or recommendations you have for a post, I will use to add a new page or to update an existing page.

Note: I wrote this from a religious perspective, but I recommend reading it anyway because most of the tips are quite universal and not sugarcoated or based on the self-esteem notion that challenging things are bad because you might fail.

  1. Learn to study
  2. Learn to be alone without feeling lonely
  3. Learn to have a morning routine
  4. Learn to write basic computer programs
  5. Learn to do basic vehicular repairs and upkeep
  6. Learn to cook
  7. Learn to budget
  8. Learn to read for pleasure

Learn To Read For Pleasure

If you cannot read for pleasure, start. It can be anything: history, how-to books, philosophy, great literature, popularized science, theology. I recommend a bit of everything. But learn to read for pleasure in the same way one might lift weights for pleasure. That way, even if something feels boring or unpleasant in the moment, it could be good for you when you finish. In order to make time for this you’ll need to watch less television, but it is worth it because reading for pleasure improves your ability to study by increasing certain brain functions that correlate with empathy and problem solving.

I recommend making a list of some classic novels, essays, and non-fiction books and trying to read them. It is best to read a chapter at a time and write questions and notes after each chapter is finished.

Learn To Budget

Learn to budget. Write a budget and stick to it rigidly. This will save you a lot of trouble in college and in your early thirties when many people are buried under massive debt from their college years while still working in entry level positions with low income.

Learn To Cook

I mentioned cooking when talking about the morning routine. People often joke about how bad they are at cooking. Do not let them intimidate you. People who say such things are simply admitting that they are bad at following (or more likely refuse to) instructions. Cooking is fun, produces tasty things, and gives you options for dinner. Ask your parents, buy a cookbook, or use internet videos, but cooking is great fun and an important milestone for approaching adulthood.

Learning to cook is useful in several ways:

  1. You get to choose what goes into your meals.
  2. You get to create something from scratch which makes eating fulfilling rather than just filling.
  3. You get to bless others with your creation.
  4. You can save money by buying groceries instead of eating out.
  5. You get to practice studying in a way that can apply to other things (the habits that help you learn to cook work for math, computer programming, literature, and so-on)

Learn To Do Basic Vehicular Repairs

If your parents do not possess this knowledge, then I recommend using the internet (with their permission) in order to do simple things like check tire pressure, use a compressor, and check fluid levels. If you have other opportunities (perhaps asking a friend’s parent to teach you), then jump at the opportunity. Basic tune ups can save you thousands when you’re older. I also say vehicular, because many young people no longer perform the basics of bicycle repair and upkeep. Regular oiling, tub changes, and tightening are key to safety and efficiency in cycling for exercise and travel.

Learn To Write Basic Computer Programs

One of the major problems in high school curricula today is that students are taught to regurgitate so much material, that they rarely ever produce their own knowledge. Learning to program teaches you to problem solve in a way that is hardly analogous to any class except Calculus in high school and gives you opportunities that are able to be pursued even by students who live in apartments without garages or opportunities to do house or automobile repairs themselves.

In order to accomplish this, you may need to learn to use a computer beyond the ease that comes with utilizing a smart phone. I recommend looking us tutorials on Coursera to learn basic computer skills.

From there you can take some of the computer programming courses on the same website. Other resources for programming include:

  1. Khanacademy
  2. Code Academy
  3. Lynda (this one costs money, but the courses are amazing)

Learn To Have A Morning Routine

Your morning responsibilities immediately become your own when you move out. I recommend that you make them your own in high school or earlier. A good morning routine actually starts the previous night, but more on that later. A morning routine will help you in three key ways:

  1. Save you time
  2. Keep you from having to make choices in the morning when you’re sleepy
  3. Prepare you to hit the pavement bright eyed and bushy tailed

Here are the basic parts of a morning routine. I recommend planning your morning routine and doing a dry run and time each section to help you determine when a wise time to wake up would be.

Hygiene

Before you hit the sack, make sure that your shower is stocked with soap, your sink with toothpaste, and your toilet area with toilet paper. If you need to shave make sure that shaving equipment is available as well. Also, any fragrances which go with your routine should be ready for use. Any other more personal hygiene products for women or for issues specific to you (acne medication, prescription drugs, and so-on) should be out and ready to go.

Exercise

We all should exercise a little bit in the morning. The increased blood flow, slight adrenaline rush, and endorphin release might make the morning a bit less unbearable. If you intend a hard work out, this should obviously come prior to showering. Some people even do very serious weight training early in the morning.

Attire and accessories

Get your clothes out the night before. This means you need to be disciplined and check the weather channel. Just do it. You’ll save yourself so much time if your belt and socks are with your pants and shoes before you get any shut-eye. Searching for things in the sleepy stupor of pre-sunlight consciousness is no fun. Similarly, make sure other important accessories are set out such as your back pack with completed homework inside, wallet/purse, charged cellular phone (more on that in a minute), pocket note book, glasses, and so-on.

Sustenance

Stop eating sugary cereal and pop-tarts. I love them too, but seriously, just stop. Learn to cook and have something more nutritious for breakfast and get the ingredients organized in the refrigerator the night before. I recommend something that has protein and fat. Even oatmeal with butter and cinnamon with some fruit is better than surgar puffs brand super sweetened sugary sugar cereal. If you drink coffee, you could start it before you jump into the shower. Anyway, the point is to plan what you eat, rather than letting the convenience of junk food override your logic and reason just because you’re sleepy.

If you do not buy your lunch, then the morning (or the night before) is a good time to prepare your food. Again, preparing your own is cheaper than buying the school lunch (unless you’re on assisted lunches), and if you make your own food you’ll save time for your parents so that they can have a more relaxing morning.

Spirituality

The solitary moments of the morning are very useful for orienting your day toward God. I highly recommend engaging in spiritual reading and prayer in the morning before the day begins, asking God for opportunities to serve others and strength to avoid evil and do good is a better way to start the day than playing on the internet. Because of that, I recommended keeping your phone charging and with your accessories, so that it is not tempting you to be distracted from getting things done. In order to keep your phone from distracting you in the morning, it may be wise to buy a traditional alarm clock.

Planning

The morning, prior to the stressors which arise throughout the day, is a good time to sit down and write out what you wish to accomplish during the day. The list can include anything from chores, conversations you wish to have, meals you wish to eat, and so-on.

Learn To Be Alone Without Feeling Lonely

This seems trivial, but it is important. In high school, especially with the advent of social media, the pleasure centers of our brains are so easily stimulated by easy access to people who ‘like,’ ‘favorite,’ respond angrily, or throw flattery our way that we can become addicted to the constant influx of digital love. This same inability to be alone has always existed, but it is not always good. We are a part of the human race, of our family, of our neighborhood, sports teams, classrooms, churches and nation, it is true. But we are also individuals. If we never take time to sit with our thoughts (no music, no people, no media, no book in hand), then it is difficult to recognize our faults, our victories, or even our own soul amidst the noise of the world around us. Learning to sit in silence for a few minutes a day with no agenda but contemplation, prayer, or simply listening to the sounds around you without feeling antsy, lonely, or bored is supremely needed in our era. Learn this in high school, because if you’re media addicted in college and it hurts your grades it will cost you money. And if you’re over social but do not know yourself well enough to make true friends, it will cost you even more.