5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before High School

Olivia Vanden Elzen, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Senior Olivia Vanden Elzen shares some hard-earned advice from her years at NDA.  And she does it with humor–Enjoy!


  • Do well on homework, quizzes and tests during the semester, so you don’t have to study as hard for final exams.


This is definitely one of the most valuable things I have learned in high school. It can be extremely hard to stay motivated to do homework and study during the semester, but I promise it will be worth it when you see all of your classmates stressing out and trying to calculate what they need to get on their final in order to bring their grade up from a D- to an A+. Not only will you have a better chance at getting a good grade in the class, but actually doing the work is a form of studying in itself, so chances are you will already know most of the material before the final, and therefore barely have to study!



  • It’s okay to get one bad grade; move on!


This one is for all of my fellow perfectionists out there. For me, I had never seen the letter “C” written on any paper, test, quiz, you name it, I had written or taken until sophomore year. Thank you, Mrs. Hallenback. You could say I was very worked up to say the least, but I quickly learned that grades don’t define you and you can always do better on the next one. Not getting the grade you want gives you a chance to reflect and learn what to do differently and try again. Failures really lead to self-growth, and I am proud to say that I can still recite the difference between meiosis and mitosis. Thank you again, Mrs. Hallenback.



  • It’s okay to ask for help.


Along with being a perfectionist, I tend to also struggle with being very stubborn, and I am usually determined to do things on my own. In fact, I am so stubborn that at a leadership retreat I was at my junior year, my group and I were led into a maze where you had to hold on to a rope, blindfolded, and we had to find our way out by navigating to where the end of the rope was. Little did I know, there was no end of the rope and the only way to get out was to ask for help, which I have already explained I am not very good at doing. So not surprisingly, I was in this maze for almost an hour and a half where one of the other participants cheated and told me I had to ask for help to get out of the maze. Long story short, if you really don’t understand something, do not be embarrassed to ask! It can save you so much time and stress.



  • Try new things!


One thing that I wish I would have done sooner is to not be afraid to try things I would never ordinarily do. This year I chose to take Chinese I because I needed a class to fill my schedule and I found out that I actually love the language! I had taken Spanish ever since 1st grade and continued through high school because I was too nervous to try something new and I already knew a lot of the language (or so I thought). Therefore, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You never know, you might really enjoy it!



  • Just enjoy where you are now.  


You only get to be in high school once so make the most of it! NDA is a college prep school so you already go in with the mentality that it is preparing you for college. This mindset comes with the normal stresses and constant questioning of “Where am I going to go to college and what do I want to do for the rest of my life?”  But, if you are so caught up in your future plans, you forget to live in the moment. High School is full of opportunities, so take them. You won’t regret it!