From STI’s to cheating boyfriends, from guns at school to taking computer class on giant inflated balls, the kids at Degrassi have seen it all. We asked Melinda Shankar, who plays gifted social climber with a heart of gold, Alli Bhandari, to share the back to school tips she’s learned from her time in TV’s most well-loved classrooms.

In real life, what’s your favourite subject?
English was always my favourite subject – writing is a big passion of mine.

What, in your opinion, has been the biggest lesson Degrassi has taught high school students?
I would say to treat others like you like to be treated! As you can see in our episodes, karma is not afraid to come back to bite you!

Would you be friends with your character Alli?
Honestly, I think I would be friends with Alli. I feel like the irrational things she does is a direct result of having strict parents, so when she gets any freedom, she tests the limits. From playing Alli I’ve grown to learn that even though she’s still figuring out who she is, her true values and morals are similar to mine. She is actually a very sweet friend, who is always there for her friends when they need her!

What does being “a successful student” mean to you?
To me a “successful student” means achieving the goals you set for yourself. No one person is exactly alike. We’re all different and are better at or worse at certain things than others. It’s important to know what your individual strengths and weaknesses are, and then adjust your goals to that!

Are you heading to university in the fall? Or is your schedule too hectic?
I’m currently filming two TV shows at the same time (Degrassi and How to be Indie), and i just finished 2 films, (Disney’s Harriet the Spy and The Festival of Light). With that work load, I’ve had to take less credits this year in high school so I can focus more on them, as opposed to not doing as well on a full course load! I’ll have to do another year of high school, but University is certainly a priority of mine!

If you could take a course in anything – what would it be?
BACKSTREET BOYS 101! I would definitely be the best and have the highest grades in that class, without a doubt. They’re my absolute favourite band!

What’s the best way to make new friends at school?
The best way to make new friends at school is to be nice to people and to treat everyone fairly and with respect. In return, people will treat you the same way!

In your opinion, what’s the biggest mistake first year students can make?
I’d say the biggest mistake first year students can make is going crazy with all of the new found freedom. I can most definitely see how that could happen, but it’s important to realize why you’re at the school in the first place.

Your character faces a strict family – what’s some advice for students trying to balance the independence of university/discovering themselves with family or other restrictions/obligations?
It would vary with each case, but in general I would say not everyone has the same outlook on life – so as long as you can find time to both have a healthy social life while getting your school work done, and most importantly making yourself happy and self fulfilled, that’s what matters most.

Your character just held her own against a guy who wasn’t interested in anything other than fooling around. On the show, you end up together. What’s your advice to girls dealing with this situation in real life?
I can’t stress self respect enough. The rule is simple; if you have respect for yourself, people (guys especially) won’t think that you’re “that girl” that they can fool around on and disrespect! Make sure the guy likes you for you. If you find out that he’s not in it for the right reasons, look forward to finding an amazing guy that will be perfect for you! Never settle for anyone less than you’re worth!