Here’s something no one tells you about your high school education: You’re in control. You’re in charge of what you do and how well you do. It’s up to you whether you treat high school as something imposed on you — something to simply get through — or as an experience you can use to figure out what you’re excited about.
And here’s another secret: When you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t feel like work. So what can you do now to find out what you’re passionate about? Here are some ideas.
Write It Down
As in so many situations, writing down your thoughts — just for yourself — is a good way to get started.
Think about the things you love to do. Be specific about what it is you love about something and what your role is in it. Also, think about your personality and how you do things. Answer questions like these:
- Do I prefer to give a speech or write a speech?
- Would I rather be an actor or a director?
- Would I rather listen to music or play music?
- Do I plan out everything before I take on a project or dive right in?
- Am I outgoing or introspective?
- Would I rather think up something new or improve upon something that already exists?
- Do I prefer to be a leader or a team member?
Write down your answers and any other thoughts you have about your personality and interests. Then list the classes you’re taking now or have taken recently. Try to make connections between your notes about yourself and your classes. Which cover subjects or teach skills that relate to the things you love? Have any classes helped you recognize an interest you didn’t know you had?
You can also list your talents. Are you good at math? Can you sing or act? Are you able to teach yourself computer languages? A list of your skills and talents may help you discover a career path. This list may also help you with choosing your high school classes and improving your study skills.
Think about the future you. Ask yourself what you want to do or be after college. Then figure out what you can do now to get there.
Let’s say that you want to be a marine biologist. Which classes will you have to take in college? Which of your current classes can help you build or improve skills you’ll need?
Now you have some new insight and information. Here are some next steps.
Try a New Approach
See if you can approach homework in a way that allows you to explore your interests. For instance, if you love art, you may be able to choose a topic for a history paper that investigates the connection between the art movements and key political events of a particular time period.
Try New Things
If you’re open to stepping outside your comfort zone, you’ll find yourself meeting new people, going places you never imagined and discovering skills and talents you didn’t think you had.
New opportunities can come to you in many ways. You can:
- Sign up for a challenging class.
- Join a club.
- Try out for a play or a team.
- Say yes to a teacher, employer or mentor who suggests a special project.
- Make a new friend who expands your perspective.
The next time someone approaches you with a new opportunity, don’t say no right away, even if it seems boring or hard. Think about it and ask yourself these types of questions:
- What will I learn from this?
- Whom will I meet?
- Where can it take me?
- Am I afraid to do this? If so, why?
Ask for Help
Your counselor, principal and teachers can help you figure out how to make the most of high school. Try asking these questions:
- Does our school offer elective classes that I may be interested in?
- Are there school clubs related to my interests? If not, how do I start one?
- Can I take an interest inventory? (This is a kind of test that can show you careers that match your interests.)