advice for incoming high school freshmen
i’ve seen a lot of these posts but none of them really aligned with my experience. so here it is, how to survive freshman year from one of many sophomores in this community. please take everything here with a grain of salt.
before school starts:
- you will not need nearly as many notebooks as you think you do. please, save yourself the time and money and hold off on buying them until you know how many you need.
- try not to get stuck in the school’s mindset of what classes you need. for example, most freshmen in my school (on a trimester system) take Bio 1, Chem 1, then Chem 2. i took all of those classes, but i really didn’t need to take bio 1 because i’m planning to complete my bio credits with AP Bio (and also bio is one of my stronger subjects). chem 1 and 2 are the only prerequisites for AP Bio, so what i should have done was drop Bio 1 and take a fine arts class instead to fill up those requirements. tl;dr: play to your strengths and don’t listen to the school when they tell you something is “highly recommended”.
- if you’re doing a sport, please know when you have to turn in paperwork to play. don’t miss the deadline or put off your physical.
when school starts:
- try not to pack too much in your backpack on the first day. paper, writing utensils, a jacket, water (reusable bottles will save your life), your lunch/money, and your student id!!! (very important) should cut it.
- take a picture of your schedule on your phone. if you get a map mark where your classes are and take a pic of that too. chances are that flimsy piece of paper dictating your entire day will get torn, crumpled or lost. i’ve seen people say it looks horribly freshman-like if you carry around your schedule all day, if that’s a thing you worry about.
- if you get a class you don’t like (that’s not a required class), switch out of it asap. don’t try and suffer through it for the credits. it will suck.
- it’s not a big deal if you need to drop or raise a level. do what’s best for your gpa. don’t feel horribly inferior if there are freshmen taking 2 APs when you’re taking none (like me) because they probably took classes over the summer. they’re not geniuses, i promise.
- PLEASE, try not to carry too much stuff in your backpack. at my school we don’t have lockers and my shoulders suffered because i thought i could bring a 1L bottle, three reading books, my thick jacket, and two large pencil case along with all my school stuff.
- YOUR SCHOOL ID IS YOUR LIFELINE. try your best not to lose it, and if you do, replace it as soon as possible.
- if you have the extra money, buying two sets of pe clothes is incredibly helpful. trust me on this.
- don’t stress too much, it’s really not as bad as it seems.
once school is well underway:
- don’t freak out if you do badly on a test. one of my friends got a d on her midterm and ended up having an a in the class. you’ll have time to pull it up.
- at the same time, don’t slack either. people say freshman grades aren’t that important, especially if you show improvement in later years, but don’t let your grades go to the dogs. freshman year is the time to build good habits, and colleges really like to see unweighted 4.0s (or so i’ve heard)
- be nice to your teachers. even if they’re demon spawn. my friend had a much nicer time than i did with our hellish english teacher simply because she talked to her a lot while i barely spoke at all. if your teachers like you they might be more willing to round your grade up or give you extra credit work.
- do your best to always be prepared and have your stuff with you. it’s not fun having to ask around for stuff.
- join some clubs. it helps with meeting new people and finding things you love. if they have competitions, it doesn’t look bad on your resume if you win any.
- if your school offers the PSAT to freshmen, take it. it’s a good way to look at where you are versus where you want to be come junior year when you’re eligible for the NMSQT.
- volunteer! get those hours in when you still have time. weekends are great if you aren’t too busy then.
- try to have the phone number of at least one person in each of your classes. group chats are also great, because people aren’t online all the time and you can ask a bunch of people for help all at once. don’t let them distract you, though. a lot of my group chats like to wander off topic and talk about other things.
- homework is gonna take a lot longer than it did in middle school. utilize the time you have effectively and do what it takes to make sure you’re ready to get to work. for example, one of my friends would always nap right after school for a few hours, and then do her homework later. i usually grab a snack and go on my phone for a few minutes to revitalize.
- if you have time during school, try doing your homework then. you’ll still be in the school mindset and people will be around for you to ask for help.
- try not to stay up past midnight. you really won’t need to, and you’ll be glad for the extra sleep. if you have to choose between finishing a small math assignment or going to sleep early for a test tomorrow, take the hit for the assignment and get some sleep.
people and relationships:
- dating in freshman year tends to be quite ephemeral. if you don’t, good for you. no one will judge you. if you do, good for you. don’t prioritize it though, and be prepared for your friends to constantly tease you about it.
- don’t date people older than you, especially seniors. i know this has been said a thousand times, but for good reason. please. do not.
- making friends with people in higher grades is always a good thing, though! in my experience, juniors love freshmen and are probably the easiest to make friends with. they’re really good if you need some advice and you don’t have to worry about them leaving next year. seniors will honestly not care about you unless you see them often. sophomores have a reputation of bullying freshmen (at least in my school), but a lot of them are nice and will be in some of your classes.
- for me, high school actually had more drama than middle school. don’t be afraid to drop friends and don’t be worried if you lose any; you’ll make better ones later.
- a lot of the kids in my middle school went to a different high school, so i was basically starting from Ground Zero regarding friends. don’t be too concerned if you don’t click with people right away; i found most of my current friends during the second and third trimesters.
- bring a charger or a power bank to school if you know you’re gonna need it. you’ll be able to charge your phone during class (if your teacher is ok with it) and if you ask around for one chances are you won’t get it.
- bring snacks. most teachers are pretty chill about you snacking during class, and it’s better to have your own stuff than mooch off your friends.
- the rules are more flexible. you can use your phone in class depending on the teacher, they even let you listen to music while they’re teaching if you have earbuds.
- go to the dances if you want. i didn’t go to any because i’m lazy and also i like to spend my money on other things, but a lot of my friends consider it an important part of the high school experience. football games can be fun too, even if you don’t like football (like me). there’ll be band and cheer and dance if you’re into that, and you can also hang out with your friends (the ones from the school your school is playing too!) and eat really unhealthy snacks. same with pep rallies, except no food.
- if your school has a newsletter or weekly news videos, pay attention to them. they usually have important information on where new clubs are meeting, spirit weeks, deadlines, events, etc.
- everyone is really spirited the first month or so and then after that they don’t care. follow their lead.
- talk to your teachers if you need help. they’ll do their best to work something out for you.
- there’s gonna be that one person who thinks the world revolves around them and gets on your nerves. chances are everyone else hates them too. be nice to them, but don’t hang around them.
- you’re not alone. everyone else is just as worried as you. have fun, and don’t sweat it.