Making the most of opportunities at school

They say that your school years are supposedly the best years of your life. I for one pray they are not your best years. I actually pray you have many many good years ahead packed with all kinds of good things. I hope that you will be able to look back on your years at school with satisfaction, with no sense of regret.

The best way to ensure you leave school, having made the most of your time here and free of regrets, is to look for the bigger picture of how these years affect your future. This will help you see a greater purpose in the decisions you will make throughout these years at school. Imagine you are finishing your last year at school. What will you wish you had done differently?

When you shape your thinking this way, suddenly your purpose will be more focused. But more than that, you will make sure that you can look back on your school years with a sense of satisfaction, content that you made the most of your time at school.

Of course, it is difficult to think about what you might regret in the future.

Here is a list of ideas about how you could prevent some of the most common regrets.

1. Try out for an extracurricular activity

Try out for your favourite sport or the major production or an ensemble, or a debating team, or at least one of the main activities during the year. If you are even vaguely considering trying out for something, do it. Don’t let your doubts hold you back. It is much better to try out for something and not make it than it is to constantly wonder in the future if you would have made it. Accept support jobs if you don’t make the main team. If you don’t make your first choice, keep trying out for other activities until you find one that suits you.

2. Do not try out for anything you do not enjoy

If you make the team and find out it is not what you thought it would be, don’t keep playing the same sport in the future. Finish up the season and don’t try out again. If it is something you can fix by talking to a coach or taking a break, then by all means do that before quitting because you do not want to regret quitting, either. But ultimately do what is best for you and what you enjoy most and you will not regret it in the future. You will also be a better member of the team and make a better contribution.

3. Join a club

School is all about absorbing every opportunity you can. If there isn’t a club that interest you, then start one of your own. Be involved. Be proud of the school you attend. Put your talents to work, learn new skills and meet new people and learn how to work with them. But don’t go overboard and stretch yourself too thinly. Choose what you enjoy most and put your heart and soul into it.

4. Get to know other students

There are lots of people in school and you cannot hope to get to know every one of them. But too often we stick with our own group and miss the chance to broaden our horizons and our friendships. We sit with the same people in class. We hang out with the same people at lunchtime. Take the attitude that everyone has a unique story and personality that is worth getting to know. It is impossible to know beforehand who you could end up being friends with, so don’t take the risk of missing out on a great friendship. Enjoy being known by many people and knowing them.

5. Get to know your teachers.

Teachers come to school because they want to teach you and help you. Get to know them. Many of them have interesting hobbies or stories to tell. They will teach you more than you could ever expect. They will also be a supporter to you and, if they know you well, can speak up for you when you need help.

6. Have fun, but set limits

You will probably regret spending every Friday night at home alone, so go out and have some fun with others your own age. You don’t have to engage in risky activities to have fun. Join a youth group or other community group. You will never regret setting yourself high standards of behaviour. Stay true to who you are and the ideals you live by. Don’t change who you are just for the approval of others.

7. Sleep

It is impossible to do everything and be perfect at everything and get enough sleep at the same time. Choose what is most important to you and don’t stress out about everything else. Keep your schoolwork at the forefront of your priorities and maintain a proper balance. At this age you need plenty of sleep, good food, exercise and fresh air. Plan your time so you look after your health.

8. Go to school events

Ask someone to go with you to a school concert, production or other event. Go along and support your school. If you are not playing, stand on the sidelines and cheer your schoolmates on. At school everything is laid on for you, every opportunity is given to you. This is your chance to get involved – and the chance to make these some of the greatest years of your life.