Way back when you first started high school, you probably had tons of ambitions and goals: you were going to join the right sports teams, start your own club, and kick academic butt through freshman and sophomore year. You were charged with excitement and imagination, ready to conquer the whole world.
Now it’s almost summer, and you’re just about at the halfway point of your high school career. Probably your goals and ambitions have changed, at least somewhat. Maybe you’ve even exceeded some. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, probably some of those goals have been totally forgotten about since they were first mentioned all those years ago.
Now is the time to sit down and self-assess--to honestly take stock of what you’ve achieved, and what you still have left to accomplish. Here are some tips to help you assess your high school experience up until this point:
Pick a time
Don’t do the self-assessment at the spur of the moment. You need to prepare, and to concentrate. Find a time to sit down with your parents and have a candid conversation about where you’re at.
Use supporting documents
Gather your grades, copies of important assignments (essays, tests, etc). Bring your progress reports, any copies of assignments with teachers’ comments, and any relevant material from your extracurriculars. This will help you talk through your achievements and accomplishments with concrete, specific examples.
Reflect on the past
Talk through with your parents what you thought high school life would be like when you first began. Take notes as you reflect on your past ambitions, goals, and dreams.
Start with your strengths
Where have you improved? What have you accomplished? Where have you met your expectations? Where have you exceeded them? See what your supporting documents add to the picture of your growth throughout your high school career.
Identify your weaker spots
Shifting gears to the more difficult part of the conversation can be uncomfortable, but you’ll learn a lot from this part of the reflection. What haven’t you achieved (yet)? What extracurriculars have fallen by the wayside? Which classes are giving you the most trouble?
Look into the shortcomings
Simply being aware of your shortcomings can make you feel disappointed or frustrated. Don’t just leave it at that--explore why you didn’t end up starting that organic gardening club; whether it was realistic to think you could write a 5-act play in one summer; if you’re not doing well in physics because you haven’t done the work to pinpoint the concepts that are still unclear.
Go back to the positive stuff
We think of this as “the sandwich method.” Start with the positive, talk about the weaker spots, and end with the positive. Find something else to appreciate about your accomplishments. That way you’ll end the reflection feeling encouraged, not defeated.
Come up with an action plan
After you assess how you’re doing and where you’re at, figure out how to get where you need to be. Write down concrete, actionable tasks related to the weaknesses and strengths you uncovered in the steps above.
This probably goes without saying, but conversations about shortcomings and accomplishments can be loaded with emotion, so go about it with kindness and care. If you go into it with the right attitude, it can help you become the person you want to be.