Maybe it’s because the beginning of senior year has started, but I can’t help but feel nostalgic over my freshman, sophomore, and junior (okay, maybe not so much junior year) years. I remember being so excited to sign up for my classes, attend freshmen orientation, and meet all my new classmates. Then the experience of being the fresh meat at school went away once we became sophomores. We were more experienced, and less naïve.
Overall, I had some of my best memories during my freshmen and sophomore year. However, there were many moments when I wished that I could ride in Doc’s time machine and go back to change the past like Marty did. Thus to help those who will be starting high school or starting sophomore year, here are some tips.
1. Explore Everything. It’s not middle school anymore! This means that as high schoolers, you have a lot more freedom with regards with what you want to learn. Thus, as underclassmen, you guys have a chance to explore your interests.
Learn what you want to learn instead of taking all the classes that you hate in hopes you can do the even harder version of it when you take the more advanced class as upperclassmen just to impress colleges. For example, my sister wanted to drop chemistry in the tenth grade because she wasn’t a very big science person. However, she just decided to take it, and fell in love with the class. She continued onto AP Chemistry in the eleventh grade. So don’t be afraid to try new things because you may end up loving it.
2. Get Involved. When asked what he would do differently as an underclassmen, Michael Salib, a TP Admit/Deny blogger, said, “If I could do [freshman and sophomore year] over, I would definitely get more involved. I was told of the importance of finding clubs and groups that would connect to my interests, but I didn’t realize how incredibly right people were. Colleges love to see involvement, and without it, high school becomes the dreary 9 month experience that it so easily can be.”
He could not be any more true. Join a variety of clubs so that you know what you like and what you don’t like. Not only does it show your consistency and enthusiasm when you decide to be part of the club for all four or three of your high school life, but your can dedication to the club when it comes to applying for leadership positions in the club. You do not know how much I regret not joining some clubs and taking some classes I wanted to when I was a freshmen or sophomore. So take your freshmen and sophomore year to find your passion because by the time you’re an upperclassmen, you may have missed a lot of good experiences you could have had!
3. Cultivate Good Work Habits. On the first day of freshmen year, I told myself that I would start working harder and better. Three years later, nothing much has changed. Don’t be like me. Definitely start having a good studying habits during freshmen or sophomore year at the latest because it’ll be very hard to change later on. Doctor Who and Tumblr will always be there waiting for you, but this is your only chance to get a good grade. High school isn’t as lenient as middle school.
But what are good work habits? This will include starting schoolwork early and not procrastinating to the last minute to do it. Trust me, when I say you don’t want to stay up all night to do an assignment. Another plus to starting early is that you will know whether or not you need any help. Teachers won’t really appreciate it if you ask them at 10 PM at night the day before the assignment is due.
Also, a good point that Gabrielle Scullard, a fellow TP senior intern, made was to back up your work (maybe even in more than one place)! This is because sometimes computers and hard drives are stupid and decide to crash and delete everything you have worked so hard for.
4. Be Confident. This sounds cliché, but don’t be afraid to be who you are! It’s also easier said then done, but don’t doubt yourself. I have had days where I doubted myself, questioned everything I did, and kept worrying about what others thought of me. Don’t ever do that because it just made me so miserable.
Being confident will not only help you feel happier about yourself, but it will also help your relationships with other people. Fellow intern Ellie Lueders said, “I would encourage my younger self to have more self-confidence in personal interactions. I was one of six people from my middle school to go to this huge high school and tried fitting myself into a social box that made me really miserable. Once I started embracing my inner extrovert and became a bit more vulnerable (it’s hard to put yourself out there!), I reaped the rewards of much closer, much more meaningful friendships.”
5. Be Friends With the Upperclassmen. When asked what she would do differently as an underclassmen, TP writer and internship supervisor Lili Borland said, “I wish someone had told me that I didn’t have to hang out with the kids that I hung out with in middle school, and that making friends in other grades is something you should so.”
Get out of your comfort zone and make new friends! The idea of being the new targets for the upperclassmen is not true because juniors and seniors aren’t actually that mean. Don’t be afraid to make friends that aren’t in your grade, because having some buddies in higher grades can benefit you a lot. You can find out which teachers to stay away from and which class to sign up for. They can make great mentors and can help you guys with certain situations. Let them impart their wisdom onto you!
Your underclassmen years will be some of your best years in high school. Try to have as much fun as you can because by the time you are a junior and senior, you will have to deal with so much more stressful things. Good luck!