SURVEY SAYS: If You Knew Then What You Know Now…

June 11, 2008 ( - Last week, I asked readers to look back on their high school experiences.

I asked you about your high school cliques (if any), the influence that experience may have had on their current career, and if their friends from those days would still recognize them (see  SURVEY SAYS – Did You “Clique” in High School? ).

I also asked “if you knew in high school what you know now, what – if anything – would you do differently?”  

More – and Less

Most of the comments revolved around having more fun, taking more risks, and not letting the “little stuff” that seems like such big stuff when you are in high school be accorded such importance.   Of course, some would have been more diligent in their studies, others less so, and no small number say they would have made a few well-placed investments.   And some, mind you, say they would have changed not a thing.

There’s a lot of wisdom there -not a few lessons hard-learned – and some humorous observations as well – but I’ll leave the reading and assessment to you.

However, this survey’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who says they “…would have advocated for a “Future Plan Sponsor” club, which would have greatly improved my popularity :)”

Thanks to everyone who participated in this special survey!

I think I would care less about what other people thought and just do my own thing. I probably would have worked harder and really tried to accomplish something significant instead of just letting my highschool experience "happen" to me.
I would take more risks, pay more attention and not worry so much about what people might think of me. What should I be doing now? The same thing!!
I would change everything....except the girl i asked to the prom. Sometimes those "predicted results" are exactly what a 17 year old boy needs!
Relax. Have a lot more confidence in my abilities, and stop worrying about what other people thought of me. Also stop making dating my #1 priority.
I was a good Catholic kid and had fun in a Catholic High School. My thoughts on what is "good" have evolved. It'd be more fun the second time around.
Focused more on what I wanted to do when I grew up.
probably shouldn't put that in writing....
Nothing - all the challenges and bumps have brought me to where I am and where I am is a pretty good place.
Focus more energy on writing and technology skills.
Be more confident about my looks - I was young and pretty but way too self-critical.
I would take more risks.
I never used drugs but also never excelled to the level I could/should have. I spent a lot of time in later years trying to catch up. I would have been much more involved with school clubs and would have paid much more attention to grades. I would have made a better attempt at reading outside of class. I think the only books I read in High School outside of class were, Helter Shelter, Bury My heart at Wounded Knee, The Exocist and First On The Moon. All good books but the average here is one per year.
Try to become more computer savvy.
I would have chosen to hang around with different group of people instead of with the rebellious crowd.
Absolutely nothing!!
Gone into college as "undeclared" rather than for major in my strongest subject, math. Since it was a decision made during my senior year and based on the ease of high school classes, I thought math major would be a breeze. Dropped that major after first quarter as disagreed with Associate Dean on how to solve complex equations.
Start a Roth IRA as soon as I could.
I would not be so focused on my (loser) boyfriend I started dating when I was 15...I lost touch with so many close friends and missed out on a lot of fun times that one should be experiencing during their teenage years. (I finally dumped him seven years later and got a college education (including a JD), married the man of my dreams, and now have a beautiful little boy.)
I would have advocated for a "Future Plan Sponsor" club, which would have greatly improved my popularity 🙂
I wouldn't have taken Biology II with Mr. Drescher, that's for sure.
Concentrated more on increasing the GPA.
Dated more chearleaders.
Not much!
I would have, hopefully, done several things differently. Most importantly, I would have treated college as a job rather than party years.
be less serious about life
I would do EVERYTHING differently! I started high school as a "burnout," switched over to Dockers and Izod polo shirts in 10th grade, and finally just because myself as a senior - I wouldn't have wasted all those years trying to be someone I wasn't! I also would've taken more math/science classes instead of dropping them after 9th grade, when they were no longer required.
I would have paid attention to the details a little more and I also would have went to college right after graduation. I took 5 years off and was behind in math skills. I had to learn to study all over again. Being able to consume booze helped as well. Old enough to go to college, old enough to get cocktails and dream.
Not care what people thought, I'm never going to see most of them again anyway!
Nothing. Although it wasn't perfect it was everything that high school should be.
Oh yea!!! I would actually have "applied" myself.
I would have been much more serious about studying, and I would have participated in more sports, and extra curicular activities.
I would have partied a little less and studied a little more.
I would have ignored what I thought everyone else thought I should do, and find something that I truly liked to to. I don't mind being an attorney, but I'm betting there is something else out there that would feel less like work. And I KNOW there is something out there that is less stressful to do.
Not to sweat the small stuff...and in high school, most of it is small stuff.
I would have gone to college, right out of high school, instead of trying to work and go to college. I also would not have gotten married at the tender age of 19.
I would not take calculus, trig or chemistry - I HAVE NOT used them. I would try to have more fun, spend more time with people. I would NOT have given another five minutes to that loutish boyfriend, though. And I would buy some tech stocks ...and sell them at the right time! 🙂
I would have had higher aspirations for my secondary education and would have gone to law school. And I would have dropped my high school sweetheart/first husband like a hot potato (although the marriage lasted over 20 years)!
Be less worried about failing.
I wouldn't be so envious of the "beautiful people clique." Most of them are now divorced (one, two, or more times), very unhappy, or deceased. I was a late-bloomer and didn't really get started in the dating scene until I was 20. I didn't grow up with brothers and I was afraid of the opposite sex (thanks to my Grandmother's warnings, which were pretty vague).
Stay single longer and travel (preferably, not to Vietnam) rather than go to college immediately after high school. Enjoy the moment rather than spending time constantly preparing for the future.
Worked harder and applied myself. Been more of a leader, not a follower. Would not have been as afraid to try, even if I failed. Had fewer beers and more goals.
Study harder; achieve more; take more risks
College wasn't an option when I was in High School. In an all girls school, it was only mentioned in the honor society circle, of which I was not a part. Sporatic 2nd honors did not count. Excelling in English Lit and Math accounting courses helped me to get where I am today. In my current field, college would have been a boost to the more technical side of HR Benefits Administration.
Might not have run away from the girl who would eventually become my wife. Other than that, I never want to be in high school ever again. I have a hard enough time sitting in classes today.
If I knew then what I know now, I would not have blended into the scenery as much. My main goal in high school was to get through it, get out, and get into the "real" world. If I had to go back (it wouldn't be voluntary, that is for sure), I would try to get more out of school, use the opportunity to broaden my horizons and learn more about the world, develop more of a personality and a higher level of confidence, work on my social skills, and not be a pushover.
I would have learned how to network--as the poor kid at the rich girl's prep school, I had access to many people with connections. But, in the mid-70's, the concepts of "getting a job" or "having a career" were theoretical and rarely mentioned. All I knew was how to study and take tests. So all I was ever prepared for was to go to college. My career started much later in life and had nothing to with the drama and chorus classes I loved to take.
Not much in high school except for trying to improve writing and verbal skills. Oh, and completely changed the content of my terrible commencement speech. I would have studied more in college, particularly working on the aforementioned writing skills and attempted more speech classes.
Not date the same guy for three years, try out for a sport or two
Be more deliberate at study habits. Better at managing money. Marry a different person.
Spend more time studying and being with people. I was kind of a loner.
Almost everything! I would have gotten better grades, but I would have also ignored most of what the teachers told us.
Appreciated some people more, questioned others more, and turned to Jesus sooner.
I would have studied harder.
I am not sure I would do anything differently except maybe try harder to keep in touch with some of my friends from high school. I often wonder what they are doing now but with 3 kids, work and home I don't find the time to reconnect.
I could write a book, but essentially, I am happy with the "way I turned out" and know the bumps and scrapes have made me a stronger person.
I wouldn't of gotten married right away.
No to be so shy, have more fun, and be friends with more people.
I always liked financial concepts and working with people so it's no surprise that I ended up in HR managing compensation, benefits, payroll, HR systems. It's been a great fit.
I would have bought IBM instead of GE in 1981.
I would change nothing.
I would have been more self-confident.
I would've studied harder.
I would find out more about colleges and scholarships and take advantage of that. I would have participated in more "fun" activities.
Go to college, move away from home without feeling the only way was to get married, insist that my guidance counselor process my college applications despite his pronouncement that there was no point, I would only get married anyway. Interestingly his very action backed me into a corner that became a self-fulfilling prophecy not to mention devastating to my dreams. By the way I graduated in the upper 1/3 of my class, missing the upper quarter by only 2 people. There were options if only there had been people in my life to help me find those options. I am so glad that these things happen less today. This person's actions irrevocably changed my life and made it harder than it had to be to be successful. It's really hard for young people today to even begin to understand the discrimination that existed in schools and in the workforce in the '60s and '70s and I only dealt with gender discrimination. I am grateful we have come so far and continue to work toward even greater opportunities for all people.
I would have concentrated more on math/science, instead of liberal arts. In fact I'm back in school now to do just that, to change careers. Also, I would have been more outgoing and not so shy around boys!
I would have had more fun.
Stop pretending I didn't understand math, read more, and find more ways to study foreign languages.
I probably wouldn't change anything in particular. I actually had a good time in high school most of the time. Plus, if I knew then what I know now, I'd have been a real jerk.
To enjoy the years because they go by fast.
Tried to be a bit more outgoing. I was so shy and quiet, teachers occassionally marked me absent and had to change it when they discovered I had actually been there.
I would spend my part-time job money on AOL and Microsoft stock instead of clothes!
Nothing - if I changed something I may not have the life I have today - and I am rather happy.
Absolutely! I wasn't supposed to be the main source of income for our family and we were not supposed to be a two income family - ha what a joke that turned out to be. I would have also gone to college, would have taken more chances and I probably would not be married to the person I'm married to now. But then again, I have a great life and I wouldn't give it up for anything.
Not sweat the 'beauty queen' competition.
I would care less about what other people thought of me.
I would apply myself more and learned to speak Spanish.
Rather than being involved in many, many activities and not being 100% successful at any, I would focus on fewer things but try with all my might to be the very best at something (be it grades or athletics, etc).
Graduated early and work a little to save for College. Also, I would probably live at home and go to college close to home to save money.
I wouldn't care what people thought. I would have danced more at prom, went to more parties, and enjoyed school events a lot more. I see the high schoolers now (just a brief 7 years since I was in their shoes) and I realize how much changes from age 18 to 25...I'm sure this will continue to be the trend as I get older though. 🙂
I wouldn't have worked my senior year. You can't do two things well. I would have just gone to school and enjoyed my last year and sports more. Instead I tried to work, go to school and participate in sports. I did good, but not great at it all and was stressed. I wanted to get out in the real world and get started on life. Instead, I would kick pack and enjoy that last year before plunging into life.
Be more decisive about career paths. Take more risks.
Be a cheerleader, of course!
I wouldn't have been afraid to show my personality and speak up more often. I wouldn't have tried to blend into the walls so much.
Would have tried a lot harder in the computer programming class. 14 of us were bused to the Board of Eduction Building for a two hour class. The computer was huge and filled a termperature-controlled room. All the action was back at the high school.
I would have gone to college right after hs graduation, instead of taking 8 years to do it.
I would have started therapy seven years sooner.