When I entered high school, I was adamant on a few goals: take all the hardest classes, get all As, and go to a good college. At the end of that first semester, I ended with an A- in my English class, failing at my second goal just like that.
In hindsight, I’m almost grateful that I got that A-. It’s easy to see now that my freshman year goals were naive; taking hard classes isn’t always the best idea, not having a 4.0 doesn’t make you a failure just as having a 4.0 doesn’t guarantee you a spot at a good college, and going to a good college is not the end-all-be-all. And after getting that A-, I slowly shifted my focus to more important things rather than continuing to worry about getting all As.
My biggest new use of time was finally exploring computer science in my free time to see if it was something I truly enjoyed. I had already taken AP Computer Science, and now anything more I learned would have to be done through self-teaching. Luckily, I found that I did enjoy it, and my time moved from doing homework and studying for tests to creating apps and learning data structures, dedicating my efforts towards extracurricular activities that I was truly passionate about.
That’s not to say that I stopped caring about school or thought that the classes weren’t useful; in fact, it was far from that. I still did my best to complete homework assignments on time, study for my tests, and make a genuine effort to learn. Even in classes I disliked at the time but had to take in order to graduate, I learned things I wouldn’t have otherwise, which has helped me become a more well-rounded individual. But gone were the days of checking my grades three times a day and calculating what score I needed to get a certain grade in a class.
By spending less time on trivial goals, I could spend time on things that mattered. I improved my coding skills by building apps and websites. I developed a stronger critical thinking ability by solving coding problems on Practice-It. I made new friends by joining Computer Club. And I learned organization, leadership, teamwork, and business skills by co-founding TeamsCode, skills that I couldn’t have learned sitting in a classroom.
High school was filled with both ups and downs. Overall though, I’m very grateful for the opportunities and memories that Mercer Island High School provided me. Leaving will be bittersweet, but regardless, I’m excited to enter college to explore new opportunities and create new friendships.