My Declassified: School Survival Guide

You, my dearest Sixth Grader, are about to embark on a journey that is comical, cumbersome, and both wonderful and completely horrible at the same time.

Right now, you are still wide-eyed and bushy tailed; your mind is still eager with expectation for what is to come. All too soon, my dear Sixth Grader, cold reality will set in; you will realize that the teachers never really do stop assigning homework, and that sometimes you fight with your friends. You will ask, “But when will I ever use this? You know in real life?” and your teacher will give you a severely less than satisfying answer. You will probably never learn a foreign language. Also, you will realize that you are never truly warm at our school, and you will find its cavernous hallway comparable to a Siberian prison camp. Before you know it, you will be eagerly counting down the months, days, and hours until you graduate.

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Hold fast, little friend, for, while most of us agree that, in general, middle and high school are prone to producing severe bouts of cynicism and anxiety, we will also probably all agree that middle and high school are places where good friends are made and wonderful experiences are lived. You will need some basic rules to help you navigate the next few years, and you can think of me as the Great and Powerful Wizard, silently guiding you through the next few tempestuous seasons of your life. Before you continue on your journey, you should know my three basic steps to surviving middle and high school. The first rule is to never say anything to anyone that you would not say to your grandma. The second: only invest about eighty percent of your life to the upkeep of your GPA.

Thirdly, try everything, even if it terrifies you. Grandmas are great. I think we tend to usually think of grandmas as sweet and innocent little old ladies. Once you mature a little bit, you will realize that this is only partially true, but for arguments sake, let us say that grandmas are the sweetest and most innocent beings to walk the face of the earth. Now, if you find yourself in a position in which you think it would be beneficial to say or do something that would make your weirdo friends laugh, but otherwise would make your sweet little Grandma Rose cringe, do not do or say that thing. People usually base their opinions about you based on the things you talk and joke about.

Do not try to impress people with things that belittle others or are otherwise, shall we say, perverse. You should hang out with people with whom laughing and joking comes easily. You should never work to keep someone’s attention. So, in summary, rule number one is to never say or do anything that you would not say and do in the presence of your grandma. My second little tidbit of advice will probably come as a shocker to anyone who happens across this so elegantly constructed essay. My second rule is to only invest about eighty percent of your life to the upkeep of your GPA.

My little friend, I am going to tell you right now, your worth is not summed up by those little numbers that make up your GPA. Yes, you should try hard scholastically, but if you fail, it is more than okay. Sometimes, people are not cut out for geometric proofs, and that is okay. Give it a shot, and, even if you miss all the questions, be proud of yourself, because, hey, you just attempted a proof and those are hard. You will have to balance soccer games, and chemistry, and friends and family, and drama club in the upcoming years, so if you are attempting to do all those things and you do less that average at one thing, it is okay, because look at you balancing all those things on one plate. Colleges will still accept you and offer you scholarships even if you got a C+ in math that one time, so do not stay up at night fretting about your GPA.

Lastly, my lovable little twelve and/or thirteen-year-old, try everything. I cannot stress this enough. You get one shot at middle and high school, so try everything. Try basketball even if you hate it, just because all your awesome friends are doing it. Do not be afraid to try out for Royal Players.

If Mrs. Huff suggests you do Choir your freshman year, shrug your shoulders and say, “Why not?” Sign up for Art 1, even if you cannot draw stick figures. You should do these things because your friends are doing them, and, even if they are not, you might make some new friends, which is always good. Also, trying new things makes you a way cooler and eclectic person. Do it, and if you do not like it, do not do it again.

Trial and error is the key to middle and high school. You will find yourself in the midst of confusion and teenage angst. That is a joke, but middle and high school will be jam packed with happy times, and awkward times, and sad times, and “Mom, seriously you are so uncool” times. Those things are what make middle and high school great, though. Live through the happy, sad, and awkward moments, and be glad you have been given a shot at them. Sweet little Sixth Grader, know that there are those who have gone before you who have had to wear that ugly sweater that their grandmother got for them to school and they have survived.

By the time you get to high school, it will be totally hipster to wear that ugly sweater to school anyway, so keep it. If you ever find yourself struggling, remember my advice: never say or do anything that you would not do in the presence of your grandmother, do not spend your whole academic career worrying about your GPA, and try everything. Take twice daily with water, and I promise you will survive the bumpy ride that is academia.