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What are some steps I can take right now in middle school to better my college and highschool education

I’m and 8th grader at a small Charter School in Utah. Everyone is constantly telling me that I need to start preparing myself for the future so I can be ahead, and I want to I just don’t know how.

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Subject: Career question for you

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Tony’s Answer

There are many different paths that you can take with your education, there isn't one "right" way to prepare yourself for your future. Some general recommendations I would offer include: be willing to work hard; learn as much as you can learn, both facts and ideas; become a well-rounded individual. Here are some suggestions that expand on these themes:

1) Take school seriously. Get your assignments done completely and on time. Learn how to plan your time so that you don't have to rush to complete assignments at the last minute. Be willing to put in the work to produce an excellent result, not just an adequate result. Choose classes that will challenge you, don't just take easy classes (but don't overload yourself!). As you progress through high school, look for opportunities to take advanced placement (AP) classes that will not only challenge you but that will show colleges that you are ready for college-level study.

2) Read! In this digital age where many students focus on social media, people have forgotten the benefits of reading and how it can help you to learn. Reading helps you to gain knowledge, get exposed to new ideas and build your vocabulary. Choose a mix of fiction and non-fiction. It's natural to want to choose books about topics or themes that you like or that interest you, and that's OK, but try to "mix it up" by occasionally choosing one of the "classics" as well as books that expose you to diverse ideas, cultures, or religions. Your teachers or a librarian can offer some suggestions.

3) Participate in activities - sports, music, clubs, volunteering, scouts, church. Prestigious universities tend to choose students who demonstrate that they can manage their time to participate in such activities while still succeeding with their schoolwork. But more importantly, activities provide an opportunity for learning beyond the classroom as well as to socialize with people outside of your immediate circle of friends.

4) If you have a talent, nurture it. Work hard at it. Spend time practicing, take lessons or classes or coaching to improve, join a team or a performing group or a club, and look for opportunities to compete or perform or to display your talents.

5) Start thinking about what you might want to study in college or focus on for a career, and take steps to learn more about that potential field. Notice that I didn't say decide - you have some time before you need to choose a field of study, and even when you do choose that choice isn't necessarily final. The objective here is to consider possibilities, and to make those career possibilities more "real" by finding out more about them. Read books that focus on a particular field, google job listings or descriptions of college majors, talk to your teachers and counselors, and find people in those fields who can tell you what they do and what path they took to get there.
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Sergei’s Answer

Indeed, this is an excellent question and the perfect moment to begin such introspection. I highly recommend taking some quiet time to really ponder what it is you love doing. This decision holds significant weight, as it could potentially shape your entire life. So, it's crucial to make a choice that resonates with you. Picture your future, imagine doing this particular activity every single day - does it bring you joy? Consider your ambitions, your aspirations, and your desire to progress and not remain stagnant in life. Does the career you're contemplating align with these goals?
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice! C
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Maria’s Answer

Hey C!

I am going to give you specific advice. First and foremost, the most important way to succeed in high school and college is to establish habits, schedules, and certain study skills; I'll explain what I mean in a bit. First, I want you to know something: Getting straight As is mostly about using your time wisely. Sure, having high intelligence makes it easier, but if you treat your schooling like a job and stick to a schedule, you'll have an anxiety-free ride. A lot of kids have poor grades in 11th-12th grade and especially college because this is when the content gets way harder, and it is much more difficult to just wing it on a test. In college, you are not babied, like you are in middle school (where teachers remind you to the point of nagging, lol).

When you go to college, your professor will give you a syllabus that will list ALL of your assignments for the entire semester. Take a couple of hours after class or that weekend to add all of those assignments into your digital calendar. When you have a Google account, you can create a lot of different calendars with different colors. Create one for each class. Type in the due date for ALL assignments. Set some default reminders, two weeks before, 1 week before, 3 days before. Study the assignments. Do you have weekly discussions you have to type and post online. Schedule a time in your week to devote to EACH class. When you get older, you will become better acquainted with how you learn, and you'll be able to predict how much time you'll need.

Another skill is breaking down assignments, and writing yourself a to-do list. Projects are huge. They require a lot of steps. A lot of people do not take the time to stop and think what a project requires, and they then freak out the night before. I'll show you with an example.

If you have to do a research project. Researching and finding your topic takes time, several hours. Searching for information takes hours, especially when you have to judge whether the source is good or not. I recommend always beginning at Wikipedia. You cannot use it as a source, but it often provides great overviews, and sources are listed in the bottom. ChatGPT helps with brainstorming, too. It writes TERRIBLY, so don't use it to plagiarize, etc.

Let me move on. You'll need to learn how to take good notes and how to skim articles well. You don't want to read long articles when you're just trying to find information.

Maria recommends the following next steps:

I recommend you look up Thomas Frank and Ali Abdaal. They make GREAT videos, teaching skills needed to be successful in college.
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Suresh’s Answer

Hello C, a wealth of wisdom has already been shared by your peers.
Kudos to you! The exciting world of high school is just around the corner. My key piece of advice for you is to explore and identify what truly sparks your interest. This will help you concentrate more on the subjects that align with your passions.

For instance, if the medical field fascinates you, life sciences might captivate your interest more than mathematics. However, remember that to successfully graduate from high school and secure a spot in a reputable college, you need to excel in all subjects, not just your favorites.

As you navigate through middle school, my suggestion is to pinpoint your interests and devote more focused attention to the corresponding subjects. At the same time, strive to maintain high grades in all other subjects. You're on the path to success, keep going!
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Sharin’s Answer

Hi C! To start with you can have active conversation with your parents, teachers if you have already some thoughts in mind on what you want to pursue. If you have not decided, its abslolutely fine as well. Don't pressure yourself. You still have time. You can of course look for peers and older students to have a discussion on the topic as well. You will get some new thoughts when you interact with people
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Dennis’s Answer

Hello C!
There is not an straight answer in terms of how to prepare for your future. But there are some things that you can do that will ease this difficult process and help you to set a path for success. I would suggest the following:

1. Try to identify what you like to do, what you enjoy, what you have talent for. This is very important because you will be on a career for a very long time, so the more you enjoy what you are doing, the happier you will be. If you have an specific talent (art, good at math, sports etc) explore options in which your talents can give you advantages and open opportunities for you.
2. Once you have identified 3-5 areas that you understand you will enjoy, explore the work offer out there. Some professions have very high demand (STEM careers, health careers for example), other don't. I recommend you to focus on careers that have or are expected to have high demand because this will increase your chances of getting a good job.
3. If you like sales, trade or things related to business, go for it! Creating a business is the best way to reach financial freedom. Is not for everybody, but if you have a desire of becoming your own boss work towards that.
4. Talk to professionals in the areas of your interest to get a real life perspective from practitioners.
5. Take your time, you have time to do your analysis carefully, don't get overwhelmed. Make sure you do your research as good as you can.
6. This last point applies to everything in life, Don't be afraid of asking questions! Be curious, don't hesitate to ask questions to get clarity.

Hopefully this helps. You are on 8th grade, still have a couple of years to explore, focus on your classes, explore, visit universities or workplaces if you have the chance. Keep asking questions and you will get the answers. Good luck!!!!!
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Stephanie’s Answer

Embrace the activities and subjects that spark your enthusiasm! Are there moments when time seems to vanish as you're writing or delving into a book about astronomy or business? Make sure to follow these sparks of curiosity. They can lead you to a wealth of opportunities, whether through the courses you select in high school or the mentors you choose to connect with. Get to know your passions, your innate abilities, and the subjects that feel effortless to you. It's all too common to follow a path laid out by others without truly recognizing what matters most to you. So, make sure to listen to your own voice and follow your own path.
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Ashley’s Answer

Hi C! It looks like a lot of folks have given really comprehensive answers here, but mine is very simple.

1) I think reading, in the form of physical books, e-reader, or audiobooks, are a great way to set you up for success. Any genre of text! It's a great tool for getting ready for the tons of reading you'll be assigned in high school and college.
2) Try new things! Join clubs or teams that interest you, go to different events purely for fun or curiosity if you can just to see what you might be inspired by.

I was not thinking about this when I was in 8th grade whatsoever, so good on you for being proactive! I didn't get serious about my education or future until mid-sophomore year of highschool. Prior to that, I was mainly uninterested in classes and got Bs/Cs. I now have two degrees, work at one of the top technology companies in the world, own my own home, have a beautiful family, and consider myself to be very successful career-wise. No matter what advice you decide to take/remember from this thread, I hope you know that you can take some time to be an 8th grader and just focus on 8th grade and things will work out in the end.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Boost your brainpower with smart nutrition choices! Here's how you can fuel your mind and body for better academic performance:

1. Hydrate yourself with water: Aim for 33 milliliters per kilogram of your body weight daily. Water is essential for all bodily functions, including brain activity.

2. Go green with low-carb vegetables: Enjoy a salad with sprouts, lettuce, and kale. Blend carrots and pumpkins into smoothies. Don't forget to spice things up with red hot chili peppers! Kelp seaweed, rich in iodine, can help produce important hormones like T3 and T4.

3. Choose low glycemic index carbs: Opt for starchy legumes, sweet potatoes, peas, hummus, and low-sugar fruits like unripe bananas, strawberries, and blueberries. Pick dark, unrefined versions of pasta and grains. Go for high-fiber breakfast cereals without added sugar or salt, and choose brown rice over white.

4. Get your protein: Amino acids from protein foods are essential for brain function and memory. Aim for 75 grams of protein a day, half of which should come from vegetarian sources like almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, legumes, grains, dairy, and soy products. Oily fish like cod is also a good choice. Limit your intake of chicken and meat.

5. Don't forget your lipids: Healthy fats from sources like Nuttelex, fresh palm oil, tahini, wheat germ oil, fish oil, and nut milk are important for brain health. Enjoy nuts and seeds but avoid dried fruit.

6. Load up on vitamins: Vitamins B, C, H, M, D, E, K, and A1 and D3 found in cod liver oil are essential for overall health. You can find these in various food sources.

7. Get your minerals: Enjoy some cheese on your pizza for calcium. Magnesium can be found in rice bran, and oysters are a rich source of zinc.

8. Cut out the bad stuff: Avoid sugar, honey, jams, treacle, and table salt. Instead, use potassium chloride for a more intense flavor. Stay away from alcohol, stimulants, drugs, and soft drinks.

As you navigate your 8th-grade year, it's fantastic that you're already thinking about your future education. Here are some steps you can take now to prepare for high school and college:

1. Build solid study habits: Create a consistent study schedule, find a quiet place to work, and learn effective note-taking techniques.

2. Discover your interests: Use this time to explore different subjects and activities. This will help guide your future academic choices.

3. Set academic goals: Reflect on what you want to achieve in high school and beyond. Break your goals down into manageable steps.

4. Challenge yourself: Seek out advanced courses and join academic competitions or clubs.

5. Build relationships with teachers: Engage in class discussions and seek help when needed. This can lead to mentorship opportunities and strong recommendations for college.

6. Use available resources: Visit your school's guidance counselor and use online educational resources.

7. Improve your communication and writing skills: Practice writing essays and participate in class discussions or debate clubs.

8. Stay organized: Use tools like planners or digital calendars to keep track of assignments and deadlines.

9. Seek leadership opportunities: Look for roles within your school or community that allow you to lead.

10. Maintain a balanced lifestyle: Engage in physical activities, pursue hobbies, and prioritize self-care.

Remember, everyone's journey is unique. Stay motivated, be open to new experiences, and adjust your approach as needed.

Top 3 Reference Publications:
1. College Board (www.collegeboard.org)
2. U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov)
3. National Association for College Admission Counseling (www.nacacnet.org)
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice! C
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