Ten Things Highly Successful Women Would Have Done Differently In High School

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

About a year ago, I read an article written by someone who was giving advice to her younger self. I found it interesting, as I am always interested in learning from my mistakes and the mistakes of others. I am very focused on success for young women in high school and I thought it might be interesting to find out what some of the most successful women would have done differently in high school. High school really is the springboard to future success and I am forever and always a proponent of hard work and high achievement.

I devised a questionnaire and asked 60 highly successful women what advice they would give to current high school girls yearning for great successes in their lives, as well. My list of successful women included those that had reached the pinnacle of success in their respective fields, such as a Supreme Court Justice, several Chief Executive Officers and Chief Financial Officers, Law and Medical Professors at the most elite colleges in the country, a University President, a Governor, several Senators, a championship winning athlete, an Academy Award winning actress and a Pulitzer Prize winning author. Although it took me about a year to contact and compile my responses from these women, I was pleasantly surprised at their willingness to communicate their experiences and advice with me. It was also interesting that many of these women shared similar responses. In my prior research studies, high school girls who successfully embraced this advice ended up at the most elite colleges in the country. There may not be a scientific correlation at this time, but it is an interesting outcome, nonetheless. I have published this in my other articles, which I encourage you to read.

The following are the top ten things these highly successful women would have done differently in high school and some advice they shared, ranked in order of the most responses:

1. Never Let Go Of Your Dreams And Dream Big– Your dreams become your inspiration to work harder and set goals for high achievement. These women related they purposely picked goals that were difficult to achieve, such as making partner in a prestigious law firm or becoming a tenured professor by the age of 35, becoming a Supreme Court Justice and running for the office of Governor and winning. Just because a state has never elected a female Governor before doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If you believe in yourself, you can make it happen. If you focus, work hard enough and stay away from the distractions in high school, anything is possible. Many of the women interviewed told me that high school, retrospectively, is a little part of a bigger picture and they focused on the long term, not the short term. They advised to stay away from the drama and negative peer pressure in high school and just follow your own unique path.

2. Learn To Say “No”– Don’t pretend to be something you are not; be yourself. You are not out to please the world and you shouldn’t do anything you are not comfortable doing. “No” is a very powerful word and the respondents alluded it will serve you well in the future if you learn this now. They also commented is it better to excel in a few areas than to spread yourself so thin you can’t excel at anything. They also reiterated that parents are usually right, so listen to them and don’t discount their advice and opinions because experience does matter.

3. Success And Money Really Are A Result Of Hard Work, Grit & Determination– Sorry to burst your bubble, but there really is no free ride or luck that takes you to the top. It is all about hard work, determination and dedication. These women kept themselves focused on the end result and worked longer hours and networked more than their peers. They were willing to take risks, work harder and pursue higher levels of education. An interesting point was all these women sacrificed something today for a greater return tomorrow. The respondents related their exceptionalism and their drive to keep achieving as drivers of their success.

4. Stay Away From People Who Tell You That You Can’t– The overwhelming advice on this point was not to let others judge you. It doesn’t matter what others think about you, it’s what you think of yourself that makes all the difference. It is this strong sense of self that will point you in the direction and the choices you will eventually have to make to determine your future endeavors. Keeping toxic people out of your life allows you to succeed and focus on accomplishing your goals. They also advised not to give up on something you are passionate about. Many told me they regretted quitting playing the piano or another musical instrument and cannot afford the time to learn it today. Time is precious and they advised sticking to a hobby or passion, as it will enrich your life at a later time.

5. Grudges Will Never Take You Anywhere, Let Them Go– It is important to understand that everyone has an opinion or belief that may differ from yours and should be the basis for discussion and learning, not resentment and avoidance. The capacity to forgive has produced great leaders, such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, who recognized that by forgiving people that hold you back, that have managed to hurt you, and forgiving yourself for the people whom you have hurt, you alleviate the toxicity that steals your energy, ambition and self-confidence. Essentially, it diminishes your leadership ability. Learn from the past and embrace the future.

6. Take Care Of Yourself Now– Studies keep coming out that show what we do when are younger may have dire consequences on us when we age. Now is the time to develop healthy lifestyle changes. Exercising and eating healthy, along with the determination not to smoke, take drugs or abuse alcohol, are all imperative for leading a longer, happier and more successful life. Get at least seven hours of sleep a night and try to avoid the drive through. The respondents said these bad habits will show up in your 30’s and 40’s and prevention is the key.

7. Be Curious And Take Risks– “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water”, is a famous quote by Rabindranath Tagore. Every reaction requires an action. You’ll never achieve your goals if you don’t take a chance. With every decision comes risk, but you only need to win more than not. The fact is you are not even in the game without taking the risk of stepping in. Take the road less traveled- these respondents said it made all the difference in their lives.

8. Failure Is Inevitable, But It Can Make You Stronger– One thing these women had in common is they were rejected from something they intensely wanted at least one time. Each one took it as a sign to work even harder and that’s what they attribute to their great success. Every one of your failures is laying out a path for your eventual success. Michael Jordan, who is regarded as the greatest basketball player in history, was cut from his varsity team numerous times and said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” How do you really know what a success is if you have not experienced a failure? These women advised embracing the failure and working harder to get an even better outcome.

9. Study, Study and Study– Get off the video games and reality television and put the time into improving your grades. With all the social media out there, it is hard to not let it invade your life, but you must. The difference between a valedictorian and a salutatorian can typically come down to one grade in high school. Colleges love to boast about the number of valedictorians and often provide greater scholarships and admissions. Students who work hard and achieve in high school learn to develop high expectations and demand stellar outcomes from themselves, which, in turn, become life-long traits. As Socrates said so eloquently, “Wisdom begins in Wonder”, so start contemplating and studying.

10. Get Into The College You Really Want To Attend– According to Vanderbilt economics and law professor Joni Hersch, who has researched and published on this subject, students who attend low-tier undergraduate institutions seldom transition to top-tier graduate schools. Even more daunting is those who do, rarely achieve the earnings power of peers who attended elite colleges. Women have it much tougher- A lower tier college graduate who attended a higher tier law school, as an example, earns only about 60 percent of the salary of a lawyer with a bachelor’s degree from an elite level college. Christopher Avery, a professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, has published and researched college as a mode of social mobility. Students who earn a degree from an elite college, even those with unremarkable grades and test scores, are handily too far ahead of those who don’t, which is why they will never catch up. The networks, resources and teaching at the elite schools typically cannot be rivaled by other colleges and set the path for success into motion. The most elite recruiters go to the most elite colleges. Recruiters often like to select candidates from the elite colleges they attended. The take away here is work hard and get into the best college you can. It will make a difference, according to the respondents and the research.

This was an interesting and thought provoking project for me personally. As a high school sophomore with two high achieving sisters currently attending elite colleges, I have seen firsthand how the right choices in high school can impact options for future success. I hope this list helps guide you to a life filled with opportunity.

How to Get an Accredited High School Diploma Online

When you earn an accredited high school diploma online, you could earn 30% more than someone who hasn’t finished high school. That’s more than $8,600 per year! Also, you are 70% more likely to be employed and have a better job. Your career opportunities can be unlimited.

But before you start, don’t believe a school is accredited just because they say so. There’s a little homework on accreditation that you need to do. Your online high school diploma will only be respected by employers and accepted by colleges if it comes from an accredited school.

One school advertises online – take a test and summarize your experiences. With a small payment you are guaranteed a diploma in 15 days. It’s hard to see how anyone could fall for that scam, but not all “fakes” are that obvious.

Some schools claim to be accredited by an agency that’s just a worthless set of initials.

What is accreditation? It’s the process of reviewing a school to see if it meets standards set by an outside agency. When a school meets minimum criteria, it’s granted accreditation. And that agency has to be approved by either the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Both organizations keep a website with a list of legitimate accreditors.

Accreditation is done to protect students, employers and schools.

Many online schools are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). This agency is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

But if you are going on to a university, talk to every university you are thinking of attending first. Make sure they accept the credits from the school you are considering. They also have to approve your choice of courses.

When selecting an online high school, your best idea is to choose an online school that is accredited by one of the six regional accreditors. These regional agencies are recognized by both the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Most brick-and-mortar public and private universities are accredited by these regional accreditors. They are listed as:

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA)
Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA)
Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS)
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU)

A degree from an online school that is accredited by one of these six associations is good anywhere. Employers and universities will accept your diploma.

If there is a local charter high school, you may be able the take your online classes free and paid for by the government. Some states also have online public high schools that are free to residents. Your computer and internet fees may even be paid for.

Online high schools that are University-affiliated are becoming more popular in online education. The university programs are high quality and offer good value for your money. Gifted students can also take more advanced placement classes for college credit than a regular high school may allow. You do have to verify accreditation with any school you intend to attend.

You don’t have to be isolated from the social life and athletics of your class. Most high schools will allow students that home school to participate in extra-curricular activities and sports.

Attending class in your pajamas while listening to music at home may appeal to you too.

Now if you have the discipline and motivation, you can earn an accredited High School diploma online.

Choosing Great High Schools

If you have lived in the same place for a very long time, you already know where your child is going to go to school until graduation. Unless you are willing to move, you don’t have much choice in the way of what high schools you want them to attend. Your choices are usually the public and private options in your community. However, if you are planning to move, but you are not sure where you are going to end up yet, you can look into all of the schools in the general area to decide which you think is the best. There are many things to look for in a school and many questions to ask.

High schools are not all the same. Some are large, some are small, and some are going to disappear. If you had a bad experience in school, you may be looking for a high school that is the opposite of what you experienced, but you can never judge any school by the size. Smaller schools have more close knit classes, but that can be a problem. However, some children get lost in larger high schools and their educations suffers because of it. A middle sized school may be the best all around bet.

High schools can only work with what they have. There are many districts that have had to cut back on many programs that were standard when you went to school. Big changes have happened in some high schools in the last five years. If you have been out of high school for quite a while, the changes are even bigger. When you are choosing among various communities, request information about the the school budget and changes that have been made. This information alone can help you cross some bad high schools off the list right off the bat.

Take a good look at the sports programs at each of the schools you are considering. A good program has plenty of options, but you also want a school that is not all about the sports. It is great for kids to play end enjoy sports for many reasons, but some focus on sports too much, leaving education in second place. Even worse, those students that are not into sports may suffer in such a school. Look for an active and funded sports program that is a part of education, not the entire story.

Lastly, the most important thing in any schools is the track record of graduates and what classes they offer their students. Go into the school and talk with the principal and anyone else that can help you. Walk through the school to look for cleanliness and see how the school feels. Some schools just have a better feel than other high schools. You can tell a lot about a school just by walking through with someone from the school during school hours. No one is perfect, but make sure the one you choose has what you want and where you feel your child will be safe and valued.