High school is not an easy place. It is four years filled with challenges and growing that you never thought possible. It is easy to look back and see what you wish you would have done differently, but in the moment, it is not easy.
I interviewed four high school seniors on the advice they would give to their freshman selves, looking back, as they are preparing for graduation in May. Since their high school career is nearly over, and they can not go back and change the impact they had over the past four years at Potosi High School.
The first senior I interviewed was Anna Kruser, who will be attending Viterbo University in the fall. She said her advice to her freshman self would be that “you don’t have to be a follower in life to be successful and yourself.” This advice sparked when her sister had a conversation with her last summer when she [her sister] noticed she did not seem like herself. “I was never myself in high school,” Anna commented to me during the interview. “I always tried to be something I was not. I was sad and waited until senior year to truly be myself. Now, I have to figure everything out, which is overwhelming.” Anna believes high school would have been a lot more enjoyable if she would have started with freshman year and not waited until senior year to be herself, but she did say that she thinks going to college will help her be herself even more. “It will be easier to not have the pressure of a small town to fit me into the mold I am not, and there will be more people I can connect with than Potosi can offer me.”
The next senior I interviewed was Syd Fecht, who will be attending Southwest Technical College in the fall. Her advice to her freshman self would be to “pay attention to the warning signs when they are right in front of you.” Syd said that she spent most of her high school years having a relationship that was not good for her self-confidence or happiness. It was not until her mom had a serious conversation with her about the relationship that she realized she needed change to enjoy the rest of her high school career. “If something is hard, that’s the reality in front of you. Don’t ignore it.” She believes that if she would have known that piece of advice since the beginning, her high school career could have been much different.
Lilly Post, who will be attending UW La-Crosse in the fall was the next to give her advice. She said, “do what makes you happy, and don’t worry what everyone else thinks.” Like Anna, Lilly said that she felt like she always tried to fit in with everyone else and that “[she] never thought about if it made [her] happy or not.” Eventually, Lilly realized the only opinion that matters in high school is the opinion you have of yourself and as long as you are making yourself happy, the rest does not matter. Lilly plans to keep this advice in mind when she goes to college next year. “I do not need to change who I am to make friends. There are people out there who are similar to you that you do not have to change for.”
Martia Abing was the final senior I interviewed. In the fall, she will be attending Viterbo University. Her advice to her freshman self was to “take every opportunity you have”. Looking back at her high school career, she really started to realize how quickly everything went. Martia noted that when Covid happened and everything shut down, she lost a lot of the typical high school experience. “I remember dreading volleyball practices, but now I wish I hadn’t because you never know when it is your last practice.” Martia plans to take that same mindset with her to college. She told me that she knows she will be presented with a lot of opportunities in college and she needs to make the best out of them to succeed.
No matter the advice, the main point to take away is that these seniors were able to grow over their high school years, and now have more insight on how they can maximize their time in college more efficiently for their mental and physical wellbeing. Who knows what kind of insight they may have when they graduate college in a few years.