10 Things Every High School Freshman Should Know
Go to orientation
If your school has an orientation of any kind–whether it appears to be some frivolous team-building thing to make friends, or exploring the layout of your school–go! Also, when you go to pick up your schedule, walk to each of your classes so you become acclimated to your schedule before the first day. If you can, get your hands on a map of your school and study it hard. Knowing your way around the school and making a few friends before the year starts will make everything much, much easier. You will be so glad you did.
Try to avoid going to school and then heading straight home every day; join some clubs! Try out for some sports–even if you think you won’t make it! These suggestions will help you make new friends and you’ll be trying new things. Freshman year is about finding out what it is you’re passionate about. (Plus: colleges/employers like to see that you’ve done certain extracurriculars for all four years–so start now!)
Getting involved doesn’t just mean extracurriculars–it means being a part of the school community too. Make an effort to go to dances, events, and sports games–you can only go to high school once, might as well make it count. As a Freshman, you are likely taking on a lighter workload than most upperclassmen. As a result, you probably have a lot more time for attending school events than you will later. Take advantage of the time you have now because if you don’t, you’re going to regret it as soon as you hit Junior year.
Be aware that friend groups change
You might find a friend or a friend group who you think you will be close with for the rest of high school. Sometimes this is true, but a lot of times friend groups split up or people grow apart. Just be aware of this happening and know it’s completely normal. Just take it as an opportunity to find new friends and meet new people.
Manage your time
You may not think that staying up until 1 a.m. once is a big deal until it becomes a habit. Finishing your homework late and then watching Netflix until you can barely keep your eyes open can seem harmless, but it can take a toll on your health and will affect your day. Procrastination can be a dangerous habit, especially as high school becomes more and more demanding. Starting Freshman year, focus on doing your homework as soon as you get it so you’re not drastically behind Sophomore/Junior year. Trust me on this one.
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself
No matter what, you probably will not have insane amounts of homework Freshman year. You just won’t. However, if you take easy classes and get by with 15 minutes of homework every day, you might end up crashing and burning Sophomore year. Challenge yourself by opting for the some of the more difficult classes available to you. If an AP class is available and you think you might be interested, go for it! It’s great to have AP experience before going into Sophomore year. If not, try for honors/accelerated instead. But DON’T take classes you know you cannot handle or that you won’t enjoy just because of an AP/Honors/Accelerated label. You will most likely end up with a grade you won’t be content with. And don’t let your parents choose your classes! No one knows you more than you.
Stay focused on yourself and your goals
Freshman year is the learning period of high school, so it’s normal to get caught up in all of the fun. Although it’s difficult not to do what everyone else seems to be doing, don’t forget about doing the things you love and the commitments you make. I promise–your friends won’t hate you if you skip the party to go practice for a sport or audition for a play.
It’s okay to do things by yourself
Joining clubs and choosing classes can be pretty stressful, especially if you don’t know what to choose. Many kids enter high school with close friends, and so a lot of incoming freshmen rely on their friends when choosing clubs and classes just to make sure they know someone. It’s fine to do this, but make sure you don’t skip out on things that you want to do just because you’re afraid of being alone. While this is a totally valid fear, you might find that you’ll get more out of a class or club when you’re doing it by yourself. Plus, you’ll make new friends in that club or class anyway.
Make plans with new people
When you meet someone new that seems cool, whether it be someone assigned to sit next to you in a class or someone on your sports team, make sure to get their contact information. Even though you may not know this person all that well, invite them to go do something! Ask if they want to go for lunch, go to the mall, or see a movie–you might find you have a lot more in common than you think. Although you may have already found the friend group that you click with, those particular friends may not have all their classes with you or be on your sports team. That’s why it is important to have friends in different “places” in the school. You will never feel lonely and you will have a lot more fun.
Yes, colleges look at Freshman year
It seems obvious, but many Freshmen misunderstand the importance of their first year in high school. I know a lot of kids who slacked off Freshman year, promising to get better grades in later years, saying that “Colleges like to see improvement” or “Colleges only look at Sophomore and Junior year”. This just isn’t true–not to mention your GPA is already down the gutter and you’re going to have to work twice as hard to get it back up again. Start off your high school career strong and set the bar for years to come.
Both high school and Freshman year are not as scary as society makes it out to be–socially and academically. Don’t forget to treat yourself, and don’t obsess over what colleges will think of every choice you make. You’re still a kid, and you don’t need to save the world before the end of senior year. Make sure you schedule time for hanging out with yourself and doing what you love–whether that be drawing or writing or simply curling up in front of Netflix with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.