Tips to Achieve Success in High School

The challenges of high school can be overwhelming to many young adults. However, the trick to success in high school is never to allow pressures to become so debilitating that one gives up and concedes defeat (fails to graduate). Each pressure can be handled with some effort, support, and a positive attitude.

Smiling graduates


Nobody enjoys them. Between standardized tests that will dictate whether or not a high school student graduates or goes to a chosen school (no pressure there) and midterms/final exams for core subjects, tests are a challenge for many.

Standardized tests are designed to measure how students perform in critical reading, math, and sometimes science versus other students in a given population. The best preparation for these types of test is to get adequate rest before the exam, eat a breakfast with protein (to regulate blood sugar), and to do one’s very best, using any extra time to check over one’s answers.

Subject tests are different: these are periodic tests that measure how well students are keeping up with material that has been presented during class. In order to do well on subject tests, one must study. How? By reviewing class notes, practicing sample problems, and memorizing any curriculum that seems likely to be on the test given a teacher’s guidelines.


Many high school students receive poor grades because they just do not hand in homework. Usually, homework is worth anywhere from 25-50% of a student’s semester grade. A low grade on homework can easily drag a student’s semester grade from an A to a C, or a C to an F. Yet, many students just say no to homework and accept the zero with perfect equanimity. Why? Homework is generally designed to reinforce lessons learned in a classroom. It deserves an honest attempt.

Boy/girl friends

If the demands of a relationship are interfering with high school performance, one should ask oneself whether that relationship is a positive or negative with regard to one’s life plans? Too many students drop out of high school every year because a relationship torpedoes their success in school. There will be a time for relationships after high school; ask any adult.

Extracurricular activities

Some activities, like participating in sports teams, band, chorus, drama, or student government, require an immense commitment of time. Many students can allocate time wisely to these activities, but some cannot. Be careful when signing up for extracurricular activities. While a few activities are desirable for many reasons, a student who is overwhelmed with activities will not do well in school and may even drop out. It is far better to start high school with one extracurricular activity and add only one more each year than to sign up for four activities as a Freshman and crash academically.

Peer pressure

Many articles and studies have been published about the effects of peer pressure in high school. From bullying to social ostracism, peer pressure is real and powerful. Fortunately, many teachers and administrators have received training to assist students in handling peer pressure. Seek the help of a qualified, sensitive adult if a peer situation gets out of control. Don’t let peer pressure make you miserable; help is out there. If the first consultation isn’t helpful, try another adult.

Parental pressure

In general, parents want their kids to succeed. This is usually not a problem, but a positive influence.

Negative self-esteem

Studies show that most teenagers have negative self-images. Whether this is due to hormonal issues, social pressures, or criticism from parents/teachers/peers, most teenagers deal with some emotional pain during their high school years and most become stronger individuals for suffering through it. Be patient. Persevere. Time is the great healer. Sometimes, the elapse of time makes problems grow larger rather than shrink, and when that happens, it is alright to seek out some help.

There are many sources of support for high school students, including parents, teachers, guidance offices, school social workers/psychologists, family friends, and hotlines. All of these sources are committed to helping you achieve success in high school.