Tips to Survive Freshman Year of High School
It is often said that high school is one of the most important milestones for just about any person. It is the point of your life where you aren’t an adult yet but won’t be categorized as a child either. It is often the first year that is the hardest for most people because you are moving from the top of the social ladder all the way to the bottom. This change can be one of the hardest in your life, but you are sure to succeed with these tips at your hand whenever you need them.
1. The Upperclassmen Are Not Scary
Many movies depict the upperclassmen as not just scary but also as bullies that can completely spoil your life. This isn’t necessarily true in most schools. Sure! There are some upperclassmen that can be a little intimidating and even rude, but those kind of people can be found in any age group. I have discovered that most upperclassmen are really sweet if you make an effort to talk to them, and they can make for great friends.
The first time I approached an upperclassman was in my sixth period class when I was in need of desperate help on my upcoming project (I might have tuned out when the teacher was talking). I had thought of her as a freshman due to her height and just the way she looked overall and was pretty confident when I approached her. I was delighted to find that she was not only ready to help me with the project but also made for a great conversationalist. I became close to her in a few weeks, but it took me nearly a month to figure out that she was a sophomore. We were both surprised, but we went on talking just the same. I was given a lot of valuable advice on the classes that I should avoid and the extracurriculars that would most interest me at the school. She even went out of her way to surprise me with a Christmas gift at the end of my first semester.
I still keep in touch with her and consider her to be one of my closest friends. It is good to remember that the upperclassmen are also humans—and they won’t bite you if you try becoming friends with them—but do acknowledge the fact that they have been in the school a few years more than you have.
2. Your Grades Matter
Yes. We have all heard the “your mental health is more important than anything in this world and thus shouldn’t be sacrificed for grades,” but on the other hand, grades do matter. I am not saying your mental health should be sacrificed for grades, but let us be honest here: You can perfectly manage to get decent grades while still holding on to your mental health.
I would absolutely love to blame my need to be healthy for my bad grades, but the truth is that most colleges and companies couldn’t care less. Grades are the first criteria that colleges check, and most companies are going to want to see how you performed in school before they hire you. This doesn’t mean that one terrible test grade in your physics class is the end of your life. I have had my share of failing test grades and barely passing quiz grades. It is all a part of the high school career, so don’t let it overtake you; but, make sure to perform better next time, even if it means practicing the same algebra problems twenty-five times or memorizing history dates over and over.
Make sure to remember that it is all right to slack off once in a while (everyone needs a break from school) as long as you don’t make a habit out of it. I promise that you will thank yourself later for your hard work and persistence.
3. Ask Your Teachers For Help When You Need It
I know it can be quite scary to accept the fact that you need help, but it is a skill that you need to master in life. It is perfectly fine to YouTube or Google a topic that you are confused about, but since your teacher is the one who will be making all of your assignments and assessments, you might find that the teacher is more likely to teach you what you need to know and can be a much better resource.
I found this out the hard way. I spent an entire week in algebra with no clue whatsoever and took to Google for most of the period, but I was taken aback when my quiz results came back and I had gotten a grade that was barely passing. I went up to my teacher as soon as possible and asked for help so that I might perform better on the test. I was glad to find that my test grade was much better than what I had gotten on the quiz.
It is perfectly fine to not understand a topic, and most teachers are actually happy to help their students. If you are ready to spend your time getting help on your weak spots in your classes, then most teachers will also be more lenient with your grades and might consider bumping it up if you are on the borderline. Nonetheless, it is wise to remember that this doesn’t mean that they will or should bump up your grade. Any bumping that a teacher does is extra and is not a right that you reserve, so your teacher might say “no” even if you worked really hard for that particular class. It is still worth asking just in case anything can be done, but if a teacher tells the class there is a “no bumping” policy, then don’t annoy the teacher by asking personally. If the teacher really thinks you deserve it, then they will bump it up.
4. Find Some Extracurriculars That You Enjoy
It is interesting to see how many students choose extracurriculars based on the ones their friends choose. It is great that you want to spend time with your friends, but if you know that you don’t like a particular club or sport, then don’t join it. It is as simple as that. Make sure that you are joining clubs and sports teams that you genuinely enjoy. You should consider asking the question, “If my friends weren’t in this particular club/sports team, then would I still enjoy being a part of it?” I think the answer should reveal if the club or sport is worth your time and energy.
It is also a great idea to stick with a few clubs throughout high school and then earn leadership positions in them rather than joining every club that comes your way; most colleges want quality over quantity. A friend of mine started out as a member of the school newspaper as a freshman and then ended up being the editor of the same newspaper in his senior year. It was obvious that he was passionate about writing, and it made a great difference for him since he wanted to major in Literature.
It is often the dream to have extracurriculars that relate to your major, but even if you are not sure what you want to do—it will be fine. Just make sure that you are choosing extracurriculars based on what you (and just you) enjoy. There is a club for just about anything; and, if there isn’t, then you can always start your own. There aren’t any rules when it comes to joining extracurriculars as long as you are passionate and enjoy what you are doing. These clubs and sports teams can give you some of your fondest memories and sometimes even your best friends.
5. Just Enjoy High School
It is said that you only get to be young once, so don’t waste it. You should try to go to as many school events as possible (even the stupid ones that no one goes to). You shouldn’t miss the football game just because it is not special and because it occurs every Friday night (it is special to the people playing in the game). All you need to do is grab a few of your friends, paint your faces, and show your spirit by rooting for your school’s team. Make sure to attend a game of a school sport that doesn’t receive much popularity, whether it be cross country or swim. Attend all the concerts that your friends are playing in, and make them feel significant.
If your parents ask you to go with them somewhere, then just go with them. You can always watch that Netflix show, but you might not always be able to bond with your parents. If your best friend needs (really needs) to do something stupid, then stand with them and take part in it (as long as it isn’t dangerous). If you want to dance in the middle of the night, then who is stopping you? It is always a great idea to make the most out of your four years in high school. After all, you only get them once, so make them count for something.
Vyshnavi Viju attends George Walton High School in Atlanta, Georgia. Her favorite thing to do in the whole world is cuddling up with a book on a rainy day. She is a huge fan of traveling to new and exotic places that are far away from where she lives, tasting all kinds of hard to pronounce foods, and experiencing new cultures from all over the world. She takes absolute delight in spending time with her best friends and her family, especially her cute and cuddly sister 🙂