So, you have made the decision to go study in a US High School. Congratulations!
Are you excited? What a fantastic adventure it will be!
This is a chance to not only widen your education, but it will also be an enriching experience to gain an appreciation of different cultural perspectives and values. High school education for international students will help strengthen you academically and really prepare you for studying at US universities, too!
But …before you pack your bags, take a moment to learn what mistakes to avoid when studying at a US high school once you get there! Here are some common mistakes made by international students, when they become high school students in the US:
1. Not participating in class
Teachers in the US really expect students to participate actively in class discussions. They want to hear your opinions, to show that you are developing critical thinking skills.
What are critical thinking skills?
Basically, this means you develop the ability to analyze and evaluate abstract concepts which you will then use when you write essays and other assignments. Thinking independently is really valued in the US school system, and teachers really want you to express your unique point of view.
So be confident – raise your hand and speak up!
2. Not getting involved in clubs or extracurricular activities
- I am sure you are really motivated to do well in your academic studies and get really excellent grades! However, school is not just about academic life, and there will be many opportunities to develop other skills and talents by getting involved in clubs and extracurricular activities.
- Getting involved is essential for many reasons. First of all, you will be doing activities you enjoy, learning new skills and giving yourself a break from hitting the books!
- Secondly, if you are thinking of applying to US universities, then getting involved is a must! Universities are looking for well-rounded young people, who participate actively in all aspects of school life as well as having a high GPA!
- Showing you are involved in team sports such as soccer or basketball, or getting involved in a drama club, school orchestra, debate club, school newspaper or any other activity is essential to make an impression with your university application!!
3. Not taking advantage of opportunities to practice English
I know it is so much easier to hang out with your friends from your home country who speak the same language as you, but seriously….
Practice your English!
That’s one of the main reasons to go to a US high school, and it so easy to just stay in your little group with your “besties” and not make an effort.
- Be a risk taker and take advantage of any opportunity to practice your English. Practice with the lunch ladies, the secretaries, people walking in the corridors and above all with your new friends you will make at your US high school.
- It will be so worth it as you see and hear your own English improve! Plus, you get to learn so much about the new culture that surrounds you!
4. Not being open-minded
- US high schools usually have a diverse student population. Students will have diverse cultural backgrounds and very different perspectives on life’s significant issues. The expectation will be that you are tolerant, open-minded and avoid being judgemental toward students.
- This can be hard sometimes, especially if you are coming from a country where there is little diversity of lifestyles and opinions. It may take you a while to get used to going to a high school with a diverse school population.
- Make a significant effort to be accepting of everyone you meet. Just as you want to be accepted for who you are, so do they!
5. Being a follower, not a leader
Are you a leader or a follower?
- Leadership is a quality that is really valued in the culture of US high schools. Being proactive and taking the initiative, as well as being a role model for other students, are seen as very valuable skills for young people to develop.
- It might feel so much easier just to follow the crowd and let others take the initiative. Yet working little by little to develop leadership qualities will really pay off for you in the long run, This might be within the classroom, as you work and collaborate with other students, or in activities, groups and events outside the classroom,
- There are so many opportunities for showing leadership skills at a US high school! Get involved in the student council, for example, or be a mentor to younger students, Try joining a school group like the Harvard Model United Nations to develop not only leadership skills but public speaking skills as well.
Remember, any evidence that you have been a leader in school is really also valued for your university application. So, the benefits are endless.
So, as you pack your suitcase and get ready to start your new school in the United States,
keep in mind all of these suggestions. This is a sure way to get the most out of your time at a US high school.