Advice from those who know: High school graduates share their best tips


Ellie Bartlett is taking her senior year photo. She now attends The University of Texas at Austin. (Photo provided by Ellie Bartlett)

As high school graduation approaches, seniors reflect on their time in school and what they could have done differently. Some wish they had focused more on academics, while others wish they had taken more time for extracurricular activities or socializing. After connecting with three previous Bellaire students who have since gone to college, the goal was to gain a glimpse into their lives and to hear about what they did and what they wished they would have done differently during their high school journey.

“I feel like, sometimes, my extracurriculars overlapped, but overall I always made time for my homework and made time for friend hangouts and clubs,” Curstin Brown, a freshman at Ottawa University, said. Balance is key to a successful high school experience.

In her time here at Bellaire, Brown juggled classes with Future Farmers of America, theater, the lacrosse team and track team. Today, she still plays lacrosse and uses the time management skills that she learned from theater.

Brown said she found her extracurricular activities valuable not only for time management but also for building friendships and discovering her hobbies.

“I was into sewing and cooking in high school, and I still make clothes now. I don’t cook as often as I want to anymore, but that’s because my dorm doesn’t have a kitchen,” Brown said. She is looking forward to getting back into cooking once she moves into a location with a completed kitchen.

Similarly, college freshman Ellie Bartlett carried a lot on her plate during her high school years. Bartlett worked at a pediatrician’s office and at Houston Methodist during her junior and senior year summers as an assistant.

“Of course, it was a nice resume builder and everything, but it really cemented my desire to pursue medicine,” Bartlett said.

Curstin Brown were at a Alicia Keys concert. She was at the concert with her roommate. (Photo provided by Curstin Brown)

Bartlett now works at Ascension Seton, a hospital in Austin, where the calm of the sixth-floor orthopedics post-op made her realize that she craves a fast-paced medical environment, and would like to return to the Texas Medical Center, where things seem to move at a breakneck pace.

Bartlett, who is now a Biology and Plan II major at The University of Austin at Texas on the premed track, wishes she enrolled in AP Chemistry in high school. She reflects on the STEM classes she could’ve taken and how those would have helped her in college STEM courses.

“I wish I had taken AP Chemistry in high school because I find myself pretty confused in General Chemistry at UT because I’ve never been exposed to titrations, buffers and acid/base chemistry. Biology at UT has been a breeze thanks to Ms. Loonam’s AP Biology class, so I’m thankful I took that, as it’s really eased my transition in college STEM classes.” Bartlett said.

Similar to Bartlett, freshman Nushana Huq stayed in Texas for college, attending Texas A&M University.

“I definitely didn’t really have that much of a balance between school and social life, which is something I wish I focused more on,” Huq said.

However, she said she still feels like her closest friends are from high school.

All three of these college freshmen shed light on what advice they wish they would have received in high school.

In particular, Bartlett wishes she would have joined more extracurriculars.

“I would say that a healthy focus on extracurriculars both made my transition to college a lot easier because I knew what I liked to do, and it helped me easily make friends who had had similar experiences to myself in high school,” Bartlett said.

Nushana Huq is relaxing in her apartment. She lives on campus at College Station. (Photo provided by Nushana Huq)

She found that finding people who shared common interests with her made her high school experience much more pleasurable and allowed her to find close-knit friendships.

Huq agrees that enjoying high school is important but she struggled with staying on top of work.

“Use a planner to develop good time management skills,” Huq said.

Organization helped her stay on top of all of her classwork and manage her homework more efficiently. She had good organization skills going into college due to using a planner.

“I wouldn’t be successful without using my planner. It’s necessary for my success in college” Huq said.

Similarly to Bartlett and Huq, Brown said that social events were important as well.

“I would say to have fun and go to school events because you get to experience things that you might never get to see outside of BHS,” Brown said.