Being a freshman in high school can be one of the most challenging journeys you will ever face, but knowing what to expect before you begin can make the transition a lot easier and more enjoyable. Even though freshman year is not the hardest academically, it can be quite taxing emotionally. You’re thrown not only into a new environment that is so vastly different than middle school because of all the new responsibilities and freedoms you have. Teachers will no longer tolerate excuses, they do give pop quizzes, and most of them don’t care if you do your homework.
You may have classes with upperclassmen, but don’t worry most of them are actually really nice and willing to help you if you need it. Here are some more tips you guys should check out to help you with your freshman jitters, as well as things I wish I knew before entering high school.
1. Don’t let your friends define you.
This tip may seem cliché, but looking back on these past four years, it’s one of the best pieces of advice I was given. High school is a time to discover who you want and don’t want to be, what you want to study, and what is most important to you. You can’t do any of those things if you’re friends are pressuring you to do things you don’t want to do. While it is very important to have a strong support system remember to take some time to ask yourself who you want to be, not who your friends tell you you should be.
2. One that same note, don’t stay with your middle school friends just because you’ve been friends with them for a long time.
High school is a time where most people will change. It’s hard, if not impossible, to emerge exactly the same as you entered. For most people the changes are positive, beneficial ones, however they may mean losing a few friends along the way. I’m here to tell you that THAT IS OKAY. People grow apart, people change, and trust me that you will end up with the right people and when you do it’s the best feeling in the world.
3. Do your homework.
This tip is so important that I don’t even think I can quantify it. Not only do teachers appreciate this and are more willing to help students who regularly do their homework, but it will also help you as a student a tremendous amount. Homework is your way of studying a little bit each night, and while it may seem tedious or a waste of your time to do an absurd amount of math problems, it will pay off.
4. You are going to get a bad grade, and that’s okay.
I don’t care if you never so much as got a B in middle school (I was one of those people), high school is a whole new ballgame. Teachers will throw unfair and grueling assignment at you. I’ve had a teacher give an assignment to over two hundred students where no one passed. Every year I’ve been in high school the first grade most students received in honors English ranged from a twenty to a fifty percent. Bad grades happen, but it’s how you deal with those grades and what you do after that really makes a difference. Ask for help from teachers and peers, study A LOT, get a tutor, don’t get discouraged if the class is harder than you thought it was going to be, and most importantly work your butt off!
5. Respect your teachers, even if you hate them, even if they’re awful.
Even the teachers that seem the most despicable are responsible for giving you grades, so make sure that you are always courteous and respectful. This doesn’t mean that you need to spend time getting to know them, but it does mean doing things like writing “I hope you are doing well” and “Thank you so much” at the beginning and end of emails as well as paying attention in class and participating.
6. First impressions are important.
Whether you are meeting a new teacher or trying to make friends with kids in your classes, first impressions MATTER. Remember to be polite, say good morning to all your teachers (they really do appreciate this), and don’t interrupt your peers when they are speaking. First impressions, while sometimes can be very wrong, are hard to change and can set the tone for the rest of the year, so make sure you set a good one.
7. Join multiple clubs.
Join clubs where you have to fill out an application and be accepted. Join clubs where they meet once a month. Join clubs that have five people in them or join a club that has fifty people in it. When it comes to extracurriculars you can never try too many. Find out what you like and by the end of freshman year you should pick your favorites and devote yourself to them. Clubs are also an amazing way to make friends with upperclassmen.
8. Don’t take a class just because your friends are taking it.
The classes that you pick are the ones you are going to be taking for either a semester or a full year, so when you get the chance to choose your own electives or get more creative with your schedule be sure to pick something you are going to enjoy and not something that your best friend enjoys and you hate. Remember, most high school lunches are forty to fifty minutes long so you will have plenty of time to talk to and see your friends daily.
9. Don’t be afraid to drop a class.
While it is important to make sure your high school schedule is rigorous, it is more important to do well in your classes and keep your GPA up, especially freshman year. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received about classes is “it’s better to get an A in a CP class than to get a C in an honors or advanced placement class.” That piece of advice was something that as a freshman I didn’t understand, and so I ended up taking an honors class that was way too difficult for me and I did very poorly. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses early on, so this way you know which honors classes to take.
A lot of people like to say that your grades freshman year aren’t as important as sophomore and junior year but that is simply not true. Having a good GPA freshman year will set the tone for the next few years, and it also acts as a safety net in case sophomore or junior year don’t go as well as you planned. Freshman year is often seen as the easiest year academics wise, and while this wasn’t true for me (sophomore year was the easiest for me), it is crucial that you put in a lot of work freshman year.
The last and most important tip I can give you guys is to find classes, activities, and people that make you want to come to school every day because while it may seem like the end of the world when you get a C in freshman biology, the things you are going to remember the most are your favorite classes and the people you spent these four years with. Good luck!