10 Tips for High School Freshmen

Monday, September 7, 2015

I have a secret about high school but you have to promise not to tell anyone. Just kidding, it's high school. Everyone finds out everything. High school is what you make it.

Read it. Live it. Love it. Embrace it. 

The kids who hate high school tend to be the kids who put zero effort into making their high school experience a good one. Do not spend your freshmen year talking about how you already have senioritis (been there, done that). I wasted my ninth grade year ranting about how badly I wanted to leave high school, but I did not make any attempt to change how things were going. Finally, I turned around my high school experience during my sophomore year and it made quite a difference. Now I... dare I say... like high school. 

1. You do not have to bring everything on the first day of school

The three things you will need are a folder, notebook, and pencil. If you are an over-achiever, bring a pen and a pack of gum too. Most teachers will hand out a syllabus of some sort and ask you to get it signed. If you do not bring a folder, keeping track of all of these loose papers will be rough. Bring a notebook because sometimes teachers have you write down things about you on the first day. While most teachers just give freshmen loose leaf paper to do this, there always tends to be a teacher who expects you to bring your own. Having a pencil is a given. Teachers will ask you to fill out "about me" slips occasionally, so be prepared with a writing utensil.

2. Join something

High school has countless opportunities to get involved. Between student council, clubs, sports, theatre, and publications, you are bound to find a place where you belong. You do not have to be a cheerleader or president of your class to feel apart of your school. Don't be "too cool" for yearbook or football games. High school really isn't such a bad place once you create your place in it.

3. Do your homework (it adds up)

Each homework assignment is probably not worth more than five or ten points, so why should you do it? The thing is, that tests are typically worth 50 to 100 points. If you bomb a test, but have earned full credit on all of your homework assignments, your grade will not move much. Homework fluffs up your grade, so spend the extra ten minutes a night getting it done.

4. Choose your classes based on your own interests

I know Sally and Billy took AP Psychology. If you prefer to paint, why in the world are you forcing yourself to endure an hour of psychology each day? 

5. Do not give up on your dreams

People will tell you to be realistic in your goals. Instead of telling you to aim high, they will suggest you reach in front of you. But they are wrong. I had a teacher tell me that I could be president of the United States if I really wanted to, and he was right. You can do anything you set your mind to. 

6. Be a leader

Whether you are running a club or standing up to a bully, do not be afraid to make waves. Everyone is searching for themselves in high school, and they often find themselves following the crowd. It is easier to go along with things, but that does not mean it is always right. Run a club and change the rules. Tell the bully that he needs to stop picking on that kid. Make a difference where you can, because every bit helps. Also, I recommend that aim to lead something during your high school experience. Whether you want to be team captain, club president, or the editor-in-chief, leading a group of students will give you valuable leadership skills. You will learn how to encourage others to be their best, and you will also learn how to handle people who slack off (a.k.a. being the bad, but needed, guy). 

7. Lose friends and make friends

The people you walk into high school with probably will not be the ones you walk out of high school with. You will grow a considerable amount in high school (both figuratively and literally). You will figure out who you are supposed to be. Throughout this process, you will probably grow apart from some of your friends. Sometimes people are not meant to be apart of your life forever, they were simply there to guide you to the next chapter. Stay open to the possibility of new friendships. 

8. Find a mentor in your school

There will be numerous teachers you will meet during your high school experience, so pick one and connect with them. Having an adult to turn to during school hours is really important. You spend 7-8 hours a day in school. Being close with a teacher gives you a sense of home and comfort in the chaotic place of high school. 

9. Don't believe everything you hear about people

She probably isn't pregnant. He probably didn't say that. They probably have no idea what they are talking about. But when day-to-day life starts to feel too mundane, people like to add some flair that typically comes in the form of gossip. Don't believe every rumor you hear. In high school, someone's reputation is not the equivalent of their character. Give people the benefit of the doubt and you will be amazed at just how incredible some people are.

10. Do not ruin your GPA

Quite a few freshmen are under the impression that since colleges do not pay as much attention to the grades they receive in ninth grade, they do not have to put effort into their freshmen year. They are wrong. A student's GPA is easy to ruin and hard to build back up. 

What are you most excited about for high school? Let me know in the comments below.

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