Hello! My name is Ceilidh Christie and I have recently completed my degree program at IUHS. I completed all of my high school courses and degree requirements through IUHS, so with 42 IUHS courses under my belt, I have learned a lot and hope some of the advice and experiences I am about to share will help current and prospective IUHS students as well as others navigating online learning right now.
Growing up a competitive gymnast and a natural perfectionist, I was taught from a young age to pursue the “perfect” score and strive for perfection. While there are significant benefits to being a perfectionist, there are also downsides to the perfectionist mentality. When I started at IUHS, I had grown accustomed to a lifestyle that prioritized perfection over personal health. Soon, I found that IUHS strives for balance and growth over perfect grades or test scores for its students. I had been focused on getting good grades heading into high school, but IUHS focuses on the bigger picture. IUHS recognizes the importance of self-development, career and life preparation, and community for their students.
My freshman year at IUHS was challenging, which is perfectly understandable when I think about it since I needed to change many aspects of my lifestyle and mindset for the better.
The demands of managing my time and balancing my schedule overwhelmed me, but then, I realized I was struggling to manage my time because I was so concerned with making all of my assignments “perfect”. I was more concerned with getting 100% than managing my time and studies, submitting assignments consistently, and overall, balancing my life. During my freshman year, IUHS taught me the important lesson of striving for balance, and not perfection. At the end of the day, we all make mistakes, but as long as we are trying our best while taking care of ourselves then we are doing all that we can.
During my sophomore year, I experienced some health setbacks that made it challenging to keep up with my school work. For a few weeks during this year, I did not turn in any assignments for any of my classes because I needed to rest and take care of myself. During this time, Mrs. Hitchcock reached out to me and checked on me to make sure I was okay. I told her about my diagnosis and she instantly asked how she could help. She gave me strategies I could use to manage the coursework in her class with my new health circumstances. Mrs. Hitchcock showed me that online learning does not mean that students are isolated, but rather at IUHS, students are supported and encouraged to perform to the best of their ability in their coursework. This experience demonstrated to me that IUHS is dedicated to their students’ success, both in their academics and in their lives.
The Fall of my junior year was a particularly rough semester. While my physical health was improving, the setbacks of my physical health struggles were taking a toll on my mental health. Additionally, due to my physical health setbacks, I had fallen behind in my sophomore year coursework, so I was working to finish my sophomore year while starting my junior year. During this semester, I was overly stressed, which manifested in a lack of motivation. This time was difficult because I was painfully taught many important lessons. I learned that completing a lesson a week in each of my courses is much better than trying to complete 3-4 lessons for just one class. Consistency is a hard skill to master, but the impact of procrastination is even harder to manage. I recommend trying to block out 4-6 hours dedicated to coursework on school days, so that you are moving forward in your coursework more consistently. Another lesson I learned was the importance of taking breaks. I know, I just told you to sit down and work on your coursework every day for a certain amount of time, but breaks are directly linked to more productive and efficient work. Two techniques that have really helped me break up my work are the ultradian performance rhythm and the Pomodoro technique. The ultradian performance rhythm shows that we can be productive for 90 minutes and then we naturally need a resting period of 20 minutes in order to recover. The Pomodoro technique sets shorter working periods with shorter resting periods than the ultradian performance rhythm. Both techniques have helped me stay productive, motivated, and balanced in my studies.
Here are two resources that explain these techniques further:
The most important piece of advice I can give current and prospective IUHS students is that it is a blessing to be able to move at your own pace through your coursework. IU High School’s independent and flexible learning style is something to be grateful for because it teaches high school students that everyone learns at their own pace and in their own way. Therefore, try not to get stressed out if you are working on a “first semester” course in February or a “second semester” course in the summer. I remember feeling bad about myself and ashamed when my friends at public school were starting their second semester courses while I was still working on my first semester ones. Now, when I look back, I am grateful that I was allowed more time and flexibility to complete my coursework because I was able to prioritize my health and participate in certain activities. However, while flexibility is great, it is important to strive to complete your courses within their time-out date because it will encourage consistency and discipline as well as keep you on track to graduate at your desired date.
While the first three years of my high school journey were challenging, I discover many valuable lessons:
- The value of my health
- The realization that grades and numbers do not define me and are not solely responsible for my success post-high school. Work ethic, respect, creativity, and other factors have played and will continue to play a large part in my success post-high school.
- The ideal of finding a balance between managing my health, academics, extracurriculars, and social life, rather than devoting all my time and energy to one area of my life.
I headed into my senior year very stressed since college applications snuck up on me and I was still working to complete my junior year. I started my IUHS diploma program as an academic honors student, which if I had not faced health struggles, I may have been able to keep up with the demands of that diploma program. However, due to my need to submit my college applications and prove to colleges that I was on target to graduate, I switched to a college prep diploma program; this path was recommended to me by Mr. Ritter, the academic advisor at IUHS. This past year, Mr. Ritter has guided me as I have navigated the college admission process and prepared for life after high school. Mr. Ritter’s support and encouragement has been boundless and inspiring. He lifted many pounds of stress off my shoulders and I cannot thank him enough for advising me and helping me chart the best path to graduate on time.
After submitting all of my college applications and feeling the effects of my course load lighten, our world changed greatly. Although faced with uncertainty about how my future would look, I felt and continue to feel extremely grateful to have already been in a situation where I was able to complete my high school journey from home and practice social distancing. My senior year was by far my best year of high school; I had found my groove. However, with anything, once things start to feel comfortable, it’s time to move on to the next challenge; this, for me, will be attending IU in the fall, majoring in biology. With the uncertainty surrounding the next year or so due to COVID-19 precautions, I am thankful for the valuable skills I have learned at IUHS because I will most likely need to utilize those skills this fall with IU planning to implement a mix of in-person and online classes.
My experiences at IUHS have proven that online learning can provide quality education with individualized attention. IUHS provides individualized experiences for all of its students, allowing students to figure out how to manage their time and studies, encouraging students to find themselves through their studies, and supporting students as they navigate high school and beyond. Even though I have only briefly met a few of the staff and faculty members at IUHS in person, I have felt the immense amount of support from the staff and faculty at IUHS throughout my four years of high school.
IUHS has provided the high school experience that I needed and for that, I am extremely thankful. I have learned and grown so much these past four years, so thank you to my family and my IUHS family for your immense support and encouragement that kept me going all the way to the finish line.