8 Things to Learn from Your High School Teachers While You Still Can

Believe us when we say your four years in high school fly by. But in those four years, you learn so much — how to pick classes, take standardized tests like the SATs and ACTs, get somewhat of an idea of what you’re passionate about, write college essays, decide where you’re going to spend the next four years of your life and more.

But there’s one resource you may not have fully used to your advantage — your teacher. Your high school teachers have a plethora of knowledge that you can acquire beyond what’s going to be on your next test. Here are eight things you should learn from your high school teachers while you still can.

1. Form relationships with your teachers

This goes a long way, both in high school and college. Forming relationships with teachers in high school can help you soon-to-be collegiettes find people to write your college recommendations, read over essays, etc. This transfers over to college because you will also need professors to write recommendations for scholarships, put down as references when applying for jobs, and more.

Juliette Sebock, a junior at Gettysburg College, encourages high school students to become close with their teachers. “I tell everyone I know at the high school age that the best thing you can do is become close to a teacher — better yet, multiple," she says. "There's nothing wrong with being a 'teacher's pet!' I was really close to a teacher in high school and I attribute a huge portion of my college acceptance to that teacher; not only did he write my rec for the actual application, but he wrote one for the program that led me to my dream school in the first place!"

Holly Rhue, a senior at George Mason University, agrees and adds, “Pre-collegiettes should definitely learn how to communicate and form relationships with their teachers. Once you get to college, it's so important to go to your professors' office hours and communicate with them regularly. If you let them learn your strengths, they can open so many doors for you!”

Start learning to form these relationships in high school, and you’ll be ahead of the game in college.

2. Ask your teachers for academic help

It might seem embarrassing to be that one student who needs extra help in class, but it’ll totally be worth it in the long run. Utilize after-school tutoring hours and review sessions. These opportunities provide reinforcement for what’s taught in the classroom and will only be beneficial. The same opportunities will appear in college, except your college professors most likely won’t hold you accountable for getting extra help. If you're able to seek help for schoolwork in high school, chances are that it’ll be just as easy to do it in college.

Courtney Mercado, a senior from the University of Southern California, shares her experience with getting academic help in high school and how that helped her transition into college. “In high school, I was able to build relationships with my teachers where I could ask them for academic help without feeling subconscious, and later on I was able to even ask them for college and career advice," she says. "I was able to build up these connections by sitting in the front of the classroom and staying after school for extra help. Accepting that I couldn't always figure things out on my own helped me transition into college. I was able to transfer this mentality over to college by sitting in the front of class, going to office hours, and scheduling appointments with my professors.”

Getting academic help when you need it is important to succeeding in college. Your professors have a lot of insight on their subject matter. Just like in high school, professors are there to help and are usually welcoming to the students that visit them in their office.

3. Learn to accept feedback from your teachers 

There’s a reason why you had to write multiple drafts of your senior year research essay. High school is a time to prepare you for intensive writing in college, except you may not have as many chances to fix your errors and mistakes.

Jessica Nolte, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, emphasizes that it’s important to learn how to take criticism from high school teachers. “Sometimes what's perceived as negative feedback hurts, and it can be really hard not to take it personally, but most teachers are trying to help," Jessica says. "I've also found college professors to be overall more critical. Learning to take criticism and improve your work in high school will help a lot in college because while your peers are blaming the professors for being too critical you'll be using their feedback to make yourself a better student and professional in your industry.”

Use the feedback that your teachers give you throughout your multiple drafts to devise a polished, well-written final draft. If you need further clarification on their feedback, then ask. Your teachers are there to help you become the best version of yourself.

4. Watch how your teachers present information to the class

You might be thinking Huh? How is this going to prepare me for college? Well, if you haven’t already done this in high school, you’re going to be giving a lot of presentations in college. Whether you’re presenting a project, case study or thesis, sooner or later you will be at the front of the classroom explaining your thoughts and ideas to your peers.

If you have stage fright or get nervous talking in front of crowds, examine how your teacher explains lessons to the class, and don’t be afraid to ask for help with your own presentation skills. Teachers are pretty much paid to be presenters of information, and you could probably learn a thing or two from them on how to captivate an audience.

5. Master how to take notes

Going hand in hand with watching how your teacher presents information to the class is learning how to take notes. College professors do not typically give handouts or study guides, so taking good notes is crucial.

Lauren Hughes, a junior at James Madison University, advises pre-collegiettes to get their high school teachers' feedback on their notes. "One thing I really wish I learned from my high school teachers was how to take thorough notes on class lectures and readings," she says. "I think it would be a good idea for pre-collegiettes to have their teachers review their notes to get their input on ways to improve them." Learning how to take good notes in high school will make it easier for you to retain information and study in college.

6. Observe how your teachers are setting examples

Teachers are expected to be good examples for students. For example, at the very least, your teachers must dress business casual — if not business professional. Pick up some style tips from your high school teachers, because it will help you in the near future.

Once you get to college, you’ll be more than likely to have to dress up for an interview, internship, job, or networking event. The difference in college is that no one is necessarily going to tell you if that dress is too casual or your pants suit is too long — you’re already expected to know these things.

Related: 4 Things Admissions Officers Are Looking for in Your Interview 

7. Notice how your teachers handle unexpected issues

Life doesn’t always go as planned, and teachers sure do know this — the whole class fails a test, one student especially acts up in class, and so much more. But, we can’t let unexpected events get in the way of reaching our goals.

Daenna Echipare, a junior at Towson University, shares some great advice from one of her high school teachers. “My anatomy teacher once said, ‘If you commit 100% to everything you do, and look past the possible failure, you'll be amazed at what you can do every day,’”  Daenna says. We could not agree more with her anatomy teacher.

Ladies, don’t sweat the small things. Use these bumps in the road as lessons learned and motivation to do better.

8. Grasp the idea of cooperative learning

High school teachers see it all the time — the student who gets a high grade gets made fun of for being a nerd, the student staying after school gets teased for needing extra help and the list goes on. But how does these actions help high school students once they get to college, or even graduate from college? News flash: It won’t.

Jess Gomez, a fourth year student at the University of Virginia, gave her input on this type of situation. “You learn that making fun of that ‘other girl/guy’ isn't really going to get you anywhere," she says. "It won't make you smarter than them, it won't make you more successful than them, and it definitely won't make you better than them.”

High school teachers typically have a classroom of diverse students and have to learn how to work with all of them, so learn to be part of the solution. Instead of trying to tear someone down or put your effort into being better than them, learn how to work with people as they are. Learn what their skills are and encourage them to use those skills to help others. Learn how to lift each other up. Let’s be women empowering other women (and men).

In the end, you’ll learn more than just how to use SOH CAH TOA or when Columbus sailed the ocean blue from your high school teachers. High school is a vital time that prepares you for the real world — college and beyond. Utilize the knowledge and resources given to you by your high school teacher. It’ll make the transition into college a whole lot easier.