Freshman year. There are two types of people going into it: the first has been dreaming about stepping through its gates since they knew what high school was, whereas the second is a bit more bleak. They’ve been dreading it. This particular period of life is a different experience for everyone, and whether you are excited about it or not, to ensure you have the best experience possible, you need to be prepared.
High school is much more complex than middle school, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be a catastrophe.
Understand that High School is Hard
Just because middle school may have been a breeze for you does not mean high school will be the same. The level of academic intensity in middle school is far from the intensity displayed in high school academics. As school prepares you for the next steps of your life, whether it be higher education or pursuing a career, the rigor is undeniably going to increase. Underestimating such stress and difficulty will leave you struggling to stay afloat once you do get hit by a big wave.
Entering the year with confidence is great (in fact, not having any will only make you suffer), but don’t start the year overly confident. Instead, look at what's in front of you and try to plan out how to navigate new challenges. Whether it be dropping an extracurricular or watching less television, set yourself up for success.
The Importance of Extracurriculars
Extracurriculars can be anything, from sports and clubs to student government, public service, and more. Almost every activity that you do outside of the classroom can be considered one. While often associated with the dreadful process of applying to colleges, extracurriculars are, for the most part, super fun. They can help you find your passion and voice, as well as make new friends. Because of the loose definition of an ‘extracurricular’, there is surely one for everyone. Use your interests and passions to join a club, team, or other organization that you think you will like.
If you’re new to a school and don’t know many people, starting an extracurricular is a perfect opportunity to make some new friends. Together, you can bond over your common love for an activity, while also enjoying yourself. If you cannot find a certain one that stands out to you, you can challenge yourself to try something new.
Even if you don’t think you will be the greatest at playing soccer or writing for your school’s newspaper, give it a shot. High school is all about experimentation and finding out who you are. If you decide after a couple months of playing soccer that it’s not the right fit, you can drop it and try something else. Do not let your current opinions or fears guide you away from trying something new. You never know, joining a club might help you find your future career.
Stay on Top of Things
In high school, work can accumulate rapidly. At one moment, you might feel that you are skiing down the slope slowly, but at the next, there is an avalanche chasing after you. In order to not succumb to the avalanche that is homework and other expectations, it’s crucial to stay on top of your workload. Constantly feeling overwhelmed will only result in falling apart. It’s hard to sustain yourself for long. If you are someone that struggles with staying on top of tasks, try making to-do lists.
At points, even staying on top of things isn’t enough; everything can get really overwhelming. To help you stay afloat, reach out to your teachers. For the most part, they would love to support their students. If you help them understand your struggles, they'll be more likely to give you an extension and assist you in any other way. Staying on top of your assignments and other responsibilities, then, will keep high school as stress-free as possible.
Reach Out to Teachers
While teachers are primarily at school to teach you, they are also there to support you. Having close, friendly relationships with them will make classes more fun and learning easier. What educators love to see is a student who displays a love for learning and genuine curiosity. By talking to them and meeting them outside of class, you show them that you’re putting in effort, and that, in turn, makes them more inclined to support you the best they can.
There is no reason to be afraid to reach out. Most teachers are eager to talk to their students, so shoot them an email, schedule an appointment, and talk to them about whatever you want to discuss. Teachers and their knowledge are amazing resources, so make sure you take advantage of them.
Having Fun is Important
The feeling of being burnt out is something you never want to experience. While, for the most part, burning out eventually is unavoidable, having fun is a good way to keep it in moderation. You can treat high school seriously while simultaneously having a good time; high school, after all, is a time to meet new people, socialize, and, above all, just be free. Homework is temporary, but memories of fun last forever. Be outgoing and ask to hang out with your friends, crack a weird, unfunny dad joke in class, and go all out on your school’s spirit days. Don’t let the challenges of high school deter you from enjoying it.
No high school experience is the same. For each person, there is a different story to be told. While everyone should approach high school in their own unique way, these are some things every incoming freshman should keep in mind. Most importantly, though, don’t take high school too seriously, because there’s so much more that comes after. High school is just the beginning of the rest of your life.