I was never really nervous about starting high school. Maybe it’s because I had just moved across the world only two years prior, but it didn’t feel like a big deal to me. I was more excited than anything else.
I loved high school. My experience certainly wasn’t easy, or even close to perfect, but it was a flipping good time. And I know I will miss it.
Looking back, I don’t have any real regrets. Sure, there are a few things I wish did or didn’t happen, but I’ve learned so much in the disappointment and the pain. I’ve learned things I don’t know if I ever would’ve learned otherwise.
In saying that, there are some things I wish I knew before my freshman year. And I knew my friends would feel the same. So together we came up with a list of all the things we think you should know before your first day.
- Get involved. High School is what you make of it, so join a team or club you’re interested in, go to the dances and games, and become a part of the school community.
- Become friends with your teachers. Not only will it make class way more fun, but it will also benefit you immensely. Having good mentors is a must, and it is so important to have people who can help you both in the classroom and beyond. You’ll be surprised by what opportunities arise thanks to a teacher who knows the direction you want to head in. Oh, and it’s also really helpful for when you need a letter of recommendation!
- Talk to everyone. Something I loved so much about my school was that everyone spoke to everyone. I met so many of my friends by sitting with them in a free period or talking to the person next to me before a class. Don’t close yourself off or let your ego get in the way of making friends– even if you think you don’t have anything in common!
- Walk on the right side of the hallway. Please.
- Challenge yourself with your classes. Everyone told me I was crazy for how many AP’s I took my senior year (granted, I did spend the second semester abroad), but I knew I could handle it. And I did. Colleges want to see you challenge yourself. Worst comes to worst– just drop the class or don’t take the AP exam.
- I recommend you take the SAT/ACT either Sophomore Spring or Junior Fall. That might seem early to some of you, but trust me, come Junior Spring or Senior Fall, you’ll have so much else going on that you’ll be thankful you got your SAT/ACT out of the way.
- Don’t take an SAT/ACT unless you feel ready. A good amount of the schools I applied to wanted to see all my test scores, so I recommend you take a bunch of practice tests and make sure you’re happy with the scores you’re getting on those.
- Make a plan the DAY you get a big assignment. I never really struggled with this since I love to organize and plan out this sort of thing, but so many people get trapped in the cycle of procrastination. Not only will you be less stressed, but you will also most likely do a much better job.
- Learn from your mistakes. Both in the classroom and in relationships. That’s the only way you will ever improve.
- You become like those you surround yourself with. Pay attention to who you’re allowing to invest in you.
- When applying to colleges, treat every school like it’s your top choice. Sure, it’s more work, but the more effort you put in, the greater the reward.
- You don’t have to stay in the same friend group for all four years. People change and grow, and it is totally ok to drift apart.
- Get out of your comfort zone! Sure, it can be scary, but it is so rewarding.
- Use speech recognition to write your college essay/supplements. This is a school’s chance to get to know you, so using speech recognition will make your writing more personal, and less like a school essay. Start by speaking it and edit from there. (P.S. It’s a lot faster this way too)
- Have grace. Everyone is still figuring who they are– so have grace with those who wrong you. But also don’t feel like you have to go out of your way to fix someone or do what they ask. It’s important to forgive someone and treat them well, but make sure you still stand up for yourself.
- A respectful discussion is always better than a fight. You can have an opinion and still respect someone else’s.
- Start filling your credit requirements as early as you can. You need your free periods more junior/senior year than you do freshman/sophomore year– so get classes like health out of the way early.
- Talk to your guidance counselors. They are there to help you, so use them!
- You’re allowed to ask for change! Your principal and faculty want you to enjoy school, so if you see something you would like to change, go to your principal with a proposal and a plan– and be ready to make it happen!
- Make the most of every moment. These next four years are going to fly by, so work hard, be smart, and go have the time of your life.
All my love.