💖tips for people starting high school (or even middle school) this year!💖
🍀 if you’re worried about getting lost get a map of the school. i guarantee you every school has a map (they need them in order to plot emergency exit plans) and you can get these either by popping in to your school office and asking the people at the front desk if they have one or by just looking online. mark the location of your classes on the map, jot down your class schedule, and keep it out with you until you can figure out how to get to your classes by memory.
🍀 if you actually do get lost don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. my first day of high school i was walking all over the damn place for a good 20 minutes looking for a classroom before i finally went to the front office and asked for directions (i had somehow entirely missed a wing of the school in my wanderings and that was where the class was, yikes). teachers and other adult staff are the best to ask but if none are around find a kid that looks older than you and ask them. someone will know where you need to go and will be able to point you in the right direction, you just have to be willing to ask them as soon as you’ve realized you have no clue where the hell you’re going instead of walking around like a lost duck for so long like i did.
🍀 write your locker combination down somewhere that’s easily accessible. even if you’re like “ha! it’s only three numbers, i can remember that!” write it down. and if you’re not comfortable or familiar with using combination locks, look up how to use them online - watch a video or two - and maybe write the instructions for which way to turn them down too. it’s not hard but it can be tricky, especially if you’ve never used a combo lock before and you’re already dealing with new school jitters that can throw you off.
🍀 familarize yourself with the rules of your school. your teachers will probably give you a rule booklet on your first day but if not then the rules are likely available to view online. this tip isn’t here to be a buzzkill but to caution practicality: different schools have different rules. some of those rules may be weird, some may be unfair, but in any case it’s always a good idea to know what is/isn’t allowed in your school so you can avoid doing anything that might get you punished (or at least so you’ll know that you should hide what you’re doing so you don’t get caught). specifically be sure you know rules that are about your school’s dress code, their policy on snacks and drinks in the classroom (this may be something you need to ask individual teachers about as well, as different teachers may have different views on this), whether phones or other devices are allowed in school, and if you take any kind of medications (down to an over the counter tylenol or benadryl) whether you’re allowed to bring those or if you need to fill out some kind of form to get permission first.
🍀 buy your own mini pencil sharpener. these were never on any of my school supply lists but they’re one of those things that you’re better off having and not needing than needing and not having (trust me you don’t want to get up and walk all the way across the room during a test or something to use the teacher’s sharpener, they’re big and loud and they annoy everyone).
🍀 make it a habit to write things down! write down all of your homework assignments and any projects, their due dates, and any quizzes/tests your teacher tells you about. also go through your planner and mark out any days that your school will be closed or closing early. some schools give out planners at the beginning of every year (mine did) but if yours doesn’t then buy one for yourself. it doesn’t have to be fancy or anything, they sell decent ones for cheap at stores like dollar tree. just make sure that you use it! it will make your life 100x easier.
🍀 if you’re someone who has a period make sure you have a small bag of necessary supplies with you in your bookbag. include a few pads, tampons, or whatever you use. different schools have different policies on bringing medication (such as ibuprofen, tylenol, or other pain killers you might use for cramps + other period symptoms) so please be aware of what your school’s policy is before you bring a bottle of pills or even a few loose pills to school with you; even if it’s an over the counter drug you can still get in trouble for bringing it to school without permission. if you’re not sure of your school’s policy your best bet is to drop by the school nurse’s office and ask them about it. don’t be too embarrassed to talk about period stuff with them, school nurses have seen/heard everything and they are not going to judge you.
🍀 don’t freak out about where to sit at lunch. seriously. movies and tv shows make a big deal about this (mean girls, anyone?) but in reality it’s just not that big of a deal. if you’re lucky you’ll share a lunch period with people you know and like and will be able to sit with them but if you don’t then don’t worry too much about it, either. try finding a table that seems mostly empty and sit down there. people you don’t know will probably sit with you and this is okay—you’re not obligated to introduce yourself but you’re also not obligated to not introduce yourself either, be polite and maybe smile and say hey if you want or just nom your food and mind your business. these kids are no different from you, they just want to eat, and chances are they’ll be perfectly fine. if you can’t find a mostly empty table, then look for an empty seat next to someone who looks more focused on eating. ask them if you can sit there. 9 times out of 10 they will say yes. sit, eat, wait for the bell, go. repeat the next day. eventually, it’ll just be another part of the routine.
🍀 don’t bring anything expensive to school unless it can fit in your locker (and you’re willing to keep it there) or you know you can keep it with you at all times. i’m not saying your stuff is going to get stolen but i’ve seen it happen before—kid comes to school, shows off their phone or ipod or something, goes to the bathroom leaving the thing unattended, and whoops! it’s gone when they come back. be responsible with your things, especially if they’re things you wouldn’t want to lose. and if you don’t absolutely NEED to bring a thing to school, consider leaving it at home.
🍀 don’t bring drugs, alcohol, weapons, or anything else illegal to school. this is common sense y'all. if you don’t want a police dog to start barking at your locker and to get in some serious trouble then leave the weed at home where the cops actually need a warrant or some kind of probable cause to come in and find it. the school building is not yours and your locker is not yours, it’s the schools. don’t bring anything into the school that you’re not okay with school staff and school cops finding.
🍀 turn your phone off before you go into the school in the morning. there are very few ways to piss a teacher off quite as quickly as having your phone ring while they’re in the middle of speaking or the class is in the middle of a test. not only will they be angry but it’s also just super embarrassing and will probably end up with you getting your phone confiscated. also, don’t text during class. i know it’s tempting but it’s not worth getting in trouble for. keep it off and if you can’t trust yourself to keep it off then keep it at home.
🍀 manage your time between classes wisely. know how much time there is between class letting out and the bell for the next class ringing and know how long it will take you to get to your next class from where you’re at. socializing is good and healthy but don’t burn up all of the time you have between classes hanging out talking to people in the hallway because it can wind up making you late. make sure you pee if you’ve gotta pee and that you have everything you need for your next class.
and for a lot of you beginning middle or high school is usually the first time you’ll have a gym class where you have to change your clothes in a locker room or shower around other students. this can obviously cause a lot of anxiety, especially for those of you who might deal with body image issues so here are a few tips for how to potentially deal with that as well as other locker room tips:
🍀 a lot of gym locker rooms have bathroom stalls attached and you can potentially get changed in those rather than out in the open with everyone else. note that some gym teachers may not be okay with students doing this. if that’s the case then they’ll likely tell you about it on day one of gym class. if they don’t mention it then consider it okay but if they don’t allow people to get changed in the bathroom then you can always slip into a regular school bathroom prior to gym class and change your clothes there and then change into your regular clothes after gym. as long as you manage your time wisely and don’t take too long and wind up late for gym or your next class, you shouldn’t get in trouble for this.
🍀 if you have body image issues about how your upper body looks you can consider wearing a long tank-top underneath your regular clothes and, after you change out of your regular clothes, just put your gym shirt on on top of the tank top. you’re still changing but no one is actually seeing your chest/skin which reduces some of the anxiety.
🍀 if you have body image issues about your lower body or people seeing you in your underwear you can consider wearing boxers or some kind of shorts-like underwear instead of briefs. these cover more skin than briefs do which can, again, reduce anxiety. no matter what your gender identity is there should be some kind of underwear like this in a pattern/color/material that is comfy for you. alternatively, you could also wear thin leggings under your regular pants (though this may not be feasible for you during summer when it’s really hot out).
🍀 if you don’t want to shower after gym, no one can force you. just make sure to have a clean set of clothes to change into, make sure you wear deodorant, and carry a packet of nicely scented wipes in your gym bag to wipe down with after gym is over. maybe also spritz a bit of perfume or scented water in your hair.
🍀 keep a pair of fresh socks in your gym bag. everyone knows to bring their gym clothes but a lot of people forget to bring a pair of clean socks and you really need to. your feet will get sweaty and hot and even if they don’t start to stink it’s still going to be really uncomfortable to wear them until you get home.
🍀 actually wash your gym clothes. YMMV, i don’t know how much y'all sweat or stink, but be sure you wash your gym clothes at least once a week because no matter what your body odor level is they will start to stink after awhile. if your clothes get particularly funky then wash them in a mix of antibacterial soap and baking soda—the soap will kill the germs and the baking soda will make them smell good again.
🍀 and speaking of stink, if your gym shoes start to smell funky buy some baking soda spray and spray the hell out of them too.
🍀 be respectful of other people in the locker room. don’t make comments about other people’s bodies that could make them feel uncomfortable or upset. if you make any kind of mess, clean it up. if the locker room has bathroom stalls attached, don’t hog them - always be aware of how much time you’re spending in there or in front of the mirror and whether there’s anyone standing around who needs to get into a stall or use a sink. and if you use perfume or body spray or any other kind of aerosol, for the love of god and asthmatics everywhere, don’t use too much of it—not to call anyone out but you young dudes out there who are just beginning your manly love affair with AXE body spray need to be especially on notice over this. when i was in middle school boys used so much AXE that you could see the waves of it drifting out of their locker room and making its way across the gym. i know y'all want to smell good but that shit can choke people out, i promise you that you don’t need to use quite THAT much in order to smell nice.
🍀 stand up to bullying and body shaming when you see it happen. if you see something, say something. if another student is being bullied in the locker room, stand up for them. sometimes the only thing it takes for a bully to stop is for other people to tell them to shut the fuck up and make it clear that their behavior isn’t acceptable. reach out to classmates of yours who you see being bullied and body shamed even when you don’t know them. you don’t have to be friends with someone in order to understand that they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. defend people who are being attacked and taken advantage of and make sure they know that they deserve better.
💖 💖 if i missed anything please feel free to add on to this list!!! 💖 💖