A group of middle schoolers might not be the obvious choice to turn to for advice on time management, cultivating a strong work ethic, and investing in your passions — but you’d be remiss to skip over our scholars. They might be young, but my 5th – 8th graders are incredibly hard-working, intelligent, and invested in the future.
This was especially apparent after our recent College Day event, which gave scholars the opportunity to research colleges based on their interests and see how their current GPA’s and midterm scores would help or hinder their admission. The event also gave my middle schoolers the chance to learn firsthand how their upcoming high school years can support their college dreams.
We invited a group of Success Academy High School scholars to speak about their current experience, show how they are preparing for the future, and bring college applications into focus for our middle schoolers.
It’s so important for scholars to visualize the direct connection from middle school study habits to a college degree. Many thanks to Lala, Anthony, Faith, and Leonora, the stellar 10th graders who did an amazing job of inspiring and informing us based on their own insights.
It was exciting to hear how our scholars realized the importance of both academics and character in high school — and in the college application process. They’re thinking carefully about the lessons they learned and discussing these with each other.
Here are four key takeaways from Ilham Idriss, Jenaya Falu-Pesante, Nuwani Martinez, and Jalen Watts, four 7th graders who are determined to make the most of their time in middle and high school by following the following excellent advice.
HSLA Scholars Faith Lloyd, Anthony Perez, Lala Diallo, and Leonora Tapper at SA Harlem East
1. Grades, Grades, Grades!
In high school, it will be more important than ever to make good grades! Right now we have a lot of second chances — if we mess up and lose focus, our teachers are there to remind us to do better. Our high school teachers will still support us, but mistakes will affect our GPA. The GPA, or Grade Point Average, is one of the most important parts of a college application. We all want to start off really strong so that we don’t have to spend time trying to make up for low grades. High school seems just like real life outside of school — where you don’t really get second chances. It’s better to start off on the right foot.
Hearing about the importance of grades made some of us pretty nervous, but it also made us feel determined to improve. We’re good, but we want to be the best. We have to stay strong and motivate ourselves to do even better!
2. Get Involved
All of us were surprised at how much independence the high schoolers have: the freedom to choose the classes they’re most interested in, the freedom to decide when they study, and even the freedom to form their own clubs! It’s exciting to think that we can choose how to spend our time, even though we know this brings a lot of responsibility onto our shoulders.
We discovered that everyone finds something to do in high school, so we’ll never need to feel bored or left out. We also found out that good grades are a requirement for forming clubs — another reason to keep up our GPA! And it seems important to have strong bonds with teachers, so that they can help us start the clubs and get involved with activities based on our interests. It was cool to learn how many opportunities will be available and to get tips on how to avoid missing out.
3. Stay Organized and Practice Prioritizing
One thing that seems really different from middle school is how many classes the scholars take and how much homework they have. Economics, Calculus, US History, Chemistry — plus they are all in different clubs, teams, and electives. There’s a lot of juggling that will need to happen to make sure that we can achieve good grades, but also enjoy what we’re learning and keep up with dance practice, for example. It will also be important to take care of ourselves. The 10th graders spoke a lot about using our daily planners — we already have these in middle school, so we know how to use them to help us keep track of everything.
4. Start Thinking About Your Passions
The high schoolers seemed like they had given a lot of thought about what they wanted to do in college and in life. After hearing them, it made us think more carefully about what we want to be. Most of us have several different interests — like dancing or becoming a scientist — and we’re excited to explore them in high school. We came away feeling it might be good to get a head start in picking a focus, so that we can work toward our goals and spend our time in high school doing activities that bring us closer to success!
High schoolers give advice to middle school scholars