From a Teen’s Perspective: The end-of-year eval

by Dylan Lanier on May 30, 2023

Many schools, like mine, are officially in the final sprint of the academic year, and others are already finished (which their students are more than happy to let us know as we cram for finals).

This year, like every other, has been full of excitement, triumph, and hard work. However, it’s easy to overlook all the good stuff and focus on the disappointments. Maybe you got a bad grade in an important class. Maybe you didn’t make the sports team you had practiced so hard for.

Don’t let regrets overshadow all of your accomplishments. Remembering your year positively will not only make you a happier person, but can be a nice confidence booster heading into the summer and the next school year. Here are a few ways to help you do so!

1. Make a List: This might be hard to start, but once you get going, you’ll definitely hit a groove. Jot down a list of all the things you’re proud of this past year, no matter how small. Did you make a friend feel better when they were upset? Did you win a Kahoot game in class? Put everything down on the page for as long as you want (I recommend at least 10 minutes) and then look it over. Reflect on each accomplishment and figuratively (or literally) give yourself a pat on the back for all the amazing things you’ve done.

2. Slides Scrapbooking: In the spirit of creating, put together a slideshow presentation chronicling your year. Include pic collages, nostalgic songs, or anything that helps convey all of last year’s memorable moments. You can pull items off of the list you made in #1, as well. I recommend making the slideshow a collaborative process. Reach out to friends for photos or videos from exciting excursions, and if everyone makes a presentation, you can even make a fun night out of watching each other’s slideshows!

3. Set Goals: What’s one more list to make! While repetitive, I recommend writing down goals for the future that focus on what you’re already doing well. While a typical goal sheet might include an item like “finally learn piano,” I think it’s important to recognize the places where you’re already thriving in order to appreciate your positive qualities and continue to exhibit them. If you have a green thumb and love to garden, maybe you would write “plant five colorful new flowers.” If you’re very studious, you could “help others create study plans.” In this way, your goals aren’t laced with the perception of a “failure” (such as never picking up piano, in the first example). Instead, they aim to reinforce how you can use your positive qualities to help yourself and others.

Of course, it’s important to learn from your mistakes and recognize places in your life that need some improvement. As such, I certainly don’t recommend ignoring the parts of your past year where you felt like you failed or underperformed. However, I believe it’s equally important to celebrate all of your achievements as well. Too often we only focus on the “bad;” why not celebrate the good, as well? The sooner you start to see not just the things you regret but the things you feel proud of, the sooner you form a fuller — and more accurate —image of yourself. Best of luck!

Got any topics you want me to cover? Email with your request!

Dylan Lanier is finishing up is junior year at Menlo Atherton High School

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