Let High School be about High School

Today my oldest child, Megan, starts high school.

While it’s really easy for me to get self-reflective and think about my own high school experience and how having a high school aged child makes me feel old, none of that really matters to her.

I want to share one thing that I shared with her last week about the start of high school: Make high school about high school. 

  • High school isn’t about preparing for the next thing. It’s about today.
  • It’s not about picking a career. Very few 18 year olds know what they want to do for a career. Very few 35 year olds seem to know, either. Chill about a career. 
  • It’s not about prepping a resume for college. Being really busy and joining 5 clubs and volunteering 1000 hours isn’t going to help you get into a top school. We’re more interested in “college fit” than some stupid number in a magazine anyway. 
  • It’s not about learning job skills. You’ll have decades to work on that. 
  • Your school might require “professional attire” but don’t make high school about preparing for a profession. And if you end up doing a profession you love, you’ll wear what you need to wear and love it. 

High School is About High School

Do stuff just because.

Try new things.

Do something you love and something you hate.

Push yourself to learn and let grades take care of themselves.

Learn how you learn.

Learn how to study.

And learn how to get by without studying…

Complain. Rage against the machine. Dream about making things better.

Understand that the best parts of high school aren’t even in the classroom, don’t miss the good stuff.

Make really good friends.

Waste time with them.

Laugh until you snort.

Make friends that you’re OK laughing so hard that you aren’t even embarrassed that you snort.


Don’t worry about us, we’ll worry about you enough for both of us.

Don’t worry about college, you’re on the right path.

Just chillax. Enjoy.

If you make high school about preparing for adult life or trying to get into the “best school” than you’ll miss out on something great.

Make high school about high school.

Enjoy it.

Get after it.

Don’t devalue today by making high school about tomorrow.

You’ll be glad you did.

Mr. Keating sums this up pretty well…






2 responses to “Let High School be about High School”

  1. Carl Fuglein Avatar
    Carl Fuglein

    Oh Adam. If only everything you said was true. Internally and intellectually, I agree with you of course, but in reality, High School is NOT all about that. Perhaps it should be, but the reality is that in the current economy, it’s harder and harder to get a good job, or even one you enjoy. You are blessed, because I know you love what you do. But not everyone is you.

    I think Highschoolers need to think at least a little bit about what they want to do. My alma mater has a program where everyone gets to go shadow someone in the career they might want. I’m not sure of the details, but at least it’s something. And after that is resolved, then picking the right school is important. Note that I did not say the top school, but the right one. You went to a top school. I went to one that was the right fit that no one ever heard of (and no longer exists because they changed their name). I had a full and satisfying career. And I did all those things you said not to do.

    I really hate to disagree with you, but this time around, I think you’re wrong. If I told my 7th and 8th grade students that HS was like what you suggest, they’d stop studying now. Bottom line is that we all need to get up in the morning and have fun, not matter what we do. That’s what you said, but I think while we’re having fun, we need to have an eye to the future and try to leave the world a better place in all that we say and do.


  2. Maria Avatar

    I disagree completely with JMHO for so many reasons, and agree with your basic idea. I know too many people who did not enjoy high school at all because they were in “an advanced program” and the ironic thing is the guy who was our Valedictorian, and finished the International Baccalaureate program, never made it far because he suffered from depression, anxiety and had no real joy in his life. Last I heard he did not go on to college but instead lost his way and was sweeping out a garage, no one is sure what happened to him because he never took time to make friends with anyone.. High school, in my opinion, is about finding what interests you by sampling the various offerings, and inspiring you to love learning as a life long habit, It is also about learning about how to get along with people, learning that time and expectations matter, and creating a network of support for the hard life ahead. As for the economy and the competition for the jobs…That is a by product of overpopulation, outsourcing work to foreign countries and a misconception that labor is unrewarding and a sign that one lacks intelligence to get a white collar job. All things we need to disabuse. As an employer I don’t really care so much about the degree as the idea that the person is someone who can work well with others and provide friendly service to my patrons. I have had people with masters degree applying for minimum wage jobs. I know way too many people who are successful in fields they did not major in college for and that prove that a degree does not really mean that much. Teen suicide rates in Japan also prove that pushing the score agenda is a bad practice and the one thing that America has going for, or had, was the fact that we encourage creative play and reward innovation. I would much rather see my child become a dreamer who creates, than an accountant who hates his job. One must find happiness in their work or it wont last very long. The friends I made in High School are also still my friends, they have led to professional leads I would not have found otherwise, and I could not enjoy life without them in my life. High School is not a track. It is an open road to the future.

Leave a Reply