I had a unique high school experience. After freshman year, I was fortunate enough to attend The Taft School, a boarding school in Watertown CT, for my remaining three years of high school. When I reflect on my three years there, truly positive experiences come to mind.

Some would say I was given significantly more freedom than most teens in high school living at home with their parents. Although I definitely gained independence, there was strict adult supervision at all times, and a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol. If you dabbled with substance use on or off campus, you faced the threat of expulsion. My classmates and I cherished our opportunities at Taft, so expulsion was definitely something to be avoided. With the exception of a few students, who faced severe consequences as a result, drugs and alcohol were absent on campus. Reflecting on my high school experience, I consider myself lucky for having not had those temptations or distractions.

We were too busy with academics, a variety of extracurriculars and our somewhat odd academic schedule. Saturday classes kept us focused, for the most part, on Friday nights, and even more excited to finally unwind on Saturday nights.

Some of my friends from home assumed weekend nights on Taft’s campus couldn’t possibly be fun; they were very wrong. There were always multiple school-sponsored events – carnivals, concerts, dances, and sometimes even a circus. It sounds childish or cheesy, but everyone thoroughly enjoyed the acrobatics, animals, and rope courses frequently set up in the gym. And while some high school dances may not be widely attended, everyone went to the dances at Taft. Some of my best memories are of time spent hanging out with my friends in the student center, playing pool, watching TV, and just simply relaxing.

For me, the temptation to drink and do drugs simply did not exist in high school. As a result, I found myself well prepared to reject the all-too-common notion that college is all about drinking and partying. I already knew how to have a great time socializing without drinking. My experiences in high school taught me that whatever you choose to do, know that you don’t have to drink or get high to have a great time. Just as with my boarding school, there is far more to college life than partying, despite the common misconception. However you choose to relax and enjoy yourself, know that there are plenty of great experiences in store for you!