For most people, high school is a stressful period. It’s a time when your hormones are raging, you are getting to know yourself, fit in, and still worry about making it to university. This gets worse if you attend an international school where you have to learn a new culture, make new friends and probably even learn a new language.
Fortunately, it’s still possible to achieve success in high school despite all these factors. As students who attended Kokusai high school, Tokyo will tell you that success is not all about perfect grades and university admission.
That said, what can a student do to ensure they achieve success in high school in Tokyo and beyond?
1. Find your passion
Today’s university selection criteria have students thinking that you need a plethora of extra-curricular activities on your transcript. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The secret to success is finding one or maybe two things you are really passionate about and excel in them. Does playing football make you feel great, work towards being the best footballer in that team. If it’s singing, art, or any other interest, excel in them.
2. Be organized
Between all the classes you have to attend, assignments, extracurricular activities, friends, and social media, it’s easy to see how something can fall through the cracks. The second tip successful students use is organization. They have a notebook or a planner where they have written down their daily or weekly activities. You can even use your phone to organize your days and weeks, so you know exactly what to do at what time.
3. Take care of yourself
High school seems like an ever-ending roller coaster where you are always trying to reach some goal. What nobody tells you at this age is that you need to take care of yourself to succeed. This entails sleeping well, eating well, and doing activities that recharge you instead of drain you. To some people, this is spending time with their friends. To others, it could be swimming, drawing, taking day naps, volunteering, or even having their hair done.
4. Expand your horizons
The fantastic thing about high school in Tokyo is that you will meet people from other areas and even nationalities if you go to an international school. Make sure you get to know these people, their cultures, language, and interests. Making friends from different places not only opens up your mind but also your connections, which might come in handy later on. If you are in a foreign land, take some time each week to tour the place. Know your surroundings, see new places, and make a lot of memories.
5. Have a balanced course load
Unless you are one of the people who already know what they want to be when they grow up, it’s hard to find a balance in your course load. Some students go with uber-challenging options that end up overwhelming them, while others take the easy way out with easy subjects.
The secret is to balance challenging core subjects with easy electives so you won’t be overwhelmed or bored. You can experiment with as many subjects as you like during freshman year to know which ones float your boat. The subjects you are drawn to may also be an indicator of what your future holds. For example, engineers are always drawn to calculus and physics from a young age.
6. Set goals and break them down
Another well-kept secret among successful students is setting attainable goals. For example, you can say that you will get at least a B in every subject next semester. You can then start working towards this goal backwards.
One trick people use is to divide a big goal into small, digestible tasks that will eventually lead to achieving the big goal. In this case, the small tasks can be revising a chapter on one subject or two every day. This will ensure you don’t fall into the trap of memorizing a whole book the week before exams.
7. Ask for help
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A high school in Tokyo is hard enough without you trying to do everything by yourself. If you have a problem understanding a particular subject, see a teacher or a fellow student who can help you through it. If you are getting homesick or depressed for some reason, seek help from the school counselor so you can be healthy enough to focus on your education. This also goes for selecting your course load if you are confused. A teacher will help you figure out where your interests are and which subjects will work best for you.
Finally, it’s important to know that success looks different for everyone. Some people are blessed in the education department while others excel more in sports or arts. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you put more effort where necessary to create a balance between your grades and your talents.