How to Survive High School: Tips From Students at CMA

How to Survive High School: Tips From Squamish Students

According to the movies, surviving high school would be so much easier if we were to:

  1. Develop super powers, or
  2. Throw huge, unsupervised parties every weekend

Considering both of these are unlikely, here are some wise tips from students at Coast Mountain Academy on how to survive high school in the Sea to Sky corridor.

coast mountain academy high school
Coast Mountain Academy students. Photo: submitted.


While studying hard is important, so too is having fun. And it’s hard to do that without friends. But finding true friends isn’t always easy.

What makes it easier though, explains Madeline Blaser, is being yourself: “there is no way that you can be happy if you aren’t.” If you see someone new, be brave and just talk to them, “odds are they are a nice person who is open to being friends” she adds.

And although you may not form long-lasting friendships with everyone you meet, you’re more likely to find like-minded people by following your own interests. “If you can surround yourself with like-minded people, chances are at least a few of them will become lasting friends,” says Sam Bonnell.

Making friends can be scary “but it’s a skill that will be very valuable in University, so start practicing now,” says Ocea Grant.


The students agree that developing good relationships with your teachers is about honesty, mutual respect, and trust.

Being engaged and interested in your class is a great way to start, explains Blaser. So is meeting deadlines and not being afraid to ask for help.

“If you can turn in your work on-time, be attentive in class, and always put your best foot forward while interacting with them, you will have a strong base on which to form a positive relationship,” says Bonnell. With this solid base in place, you’ll likely feel more comfortable talking to them about more personal matters. “ Your teacher is there to help you through school…and are often more than willing to form a strong relationship with their students,” he adds.


As important as it is to have fun in high school, it’s also important to try your best.

“To stay focused in class, the best thing to do is surround yourself with people who will be a good influence,” says Blaser. “You may not find that everyone in your class shares the same values or work ethic that you do, so finding like-minded study buddies can make a huge difference,” she adds.

“One of the simplest ways to be ‘studious’ is to simply do the work,” says Bonnell. “Focus for those seven hours, then once school is over you have the time after to do what you wish.”

Paying attention in class also helps reduce the amount of study time at home, explains Grant. He also stresses the importance of planning classes carefully to avoid taking on too much.


Many of the students agree that preparation for school starts the night before.

“For me, the best way to ensure I didn’t forget anything…is by putting out everything I need for the morning the night before,” says Brooklyn Higgs.

Blaser agrees, and adds that she preps lunch the night before too. Keeping to-do lists also helps her keep track of everything, she explains: “I keep one on my phone so that I can update it throughout the day.”

Phones, apps and planners are all useful tools for setting reminders and deadlines, says Grant.

And while note taking is a good habit to get into, explains Bonnell, they need to be organized in a way that allows you to go back and re-review content from before. A separate binder for each class, perhaps, clearly marked so you know which to bring.


“It’s never too early to start looking at universities,” says Bonnell. “Starting early will actually give you a leg-up on the competition, as you will already know the standards they hold their applicants to.”

Grant agrees: “look into university programs you are interested in, check the pre-requisites and get them done!”

Though getting good grades is key, don’t overlook the importance of community and extracurricular activities. “Work hard at being well rounded and keep all your options open,” explains Blaser.

Rather than head to university immediately, some students might prefer a gap year. “If you are confident in what you want to do, then of course, go to school immediately, but…just remember that there is no rush at all,” explains Higgs.


To keep both your mind and body healthy, “getting involved outside of classes and in sports is so important,” says Blaser.

Grant agreed and says: “concentrating is so much easier if you are exercising regularly.” Set a goal in an activity you love to help stay motivated.

School sports and committees also enable you to connect with people outside of the stressful academic environment. “This can open up many different possibilities and friendships with people in, and outside of your grade,” says Higgs.

It’s about finding a balance, explains Bonnell: “to do well academically at school you can’t just focus on academics, you need to have balance, be it sports or music. The real sweet spot is when you can combine both of those together.”


CMA student Elfin Lakes hike. Photo: Coast Mountain Academy


Keeping an even keel is essential to surviving high school.

“Finding a good balance in your day-to-day life can be very difficult, especially when your workload is very heavy,” says Blaser. “Individual people have different things that work for them, so discover what works for you.”

While daily schedules will help keep you on track, be sure to take breaks she said. “Working hard is important, but take it easy on yourself sometimes.”

Higgs agrees: “give yourself a break every now and then after school to revive what truly matters to you.”

“Play hard, study more than you play, and sleep more than you study,” says Grant. “Grades are important to get into school…but they aren’t worth sacrificing your physical and mental health for.”

It’s All About You

While high school is full of questions, doubts, and awkward self-consciousness, these precious few years will potentially shape who you are and who we become.

“You are at school for yourself and no one else,” says Bonnell. “It is YOUR education that is in YOUR hands and you have the ability to take it wherever you want.”

coast mountain academy high school
Coast Mountain Academy Students. Photo: submitted


Olivia Bevan

The author Olivia Bevan

Olivia Bevan hails from the North West of England and now calls BC home. She loves writing and kickboxing, and would secretly like to love running more than she actually does–especially as she’s just committed to a 50km race. Ouch.
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