By Chloe Kilano
The summer before high school is filled with an enormous amount of emotions. You may be feeling ecstatic to be done with middle school, and beyond ready to begin this next chapter of your life. You may already be missing middle school, terrified of the challenges that come with high school. If you’re in the same mindset that I was in just two years ago, there’s a healthy mix of both. I’m going to give you some advice that will make your freshman year, and the rest of high school, easier, less stressful, and fun.
You don’t have to fit in with the crowd
When it comes to staying true to your character, high school students can have a pretty difficult time avoiding the social expectations of being the average teenager. Remember this: people are going to judge you no matter what; you may as well do whatever it is that makes you happy. As cliché as it is, just be yourself, and you will make friends. You will find your place in high school.
Your grades matter
Having good grades in high school is extremely important. Your grades in high school will determine which colleges you will be accepted to, how much scholarship money you will earn, which classes you will be allowed to take, etc. Develop good study habits, don’t slack, and earn good grades throughout your freshman year, because it will act as the foundation for the rest of high school. I know that sleep is much more appealing than staying up until two in the morning to study for a test (which, at this point, you probably don’t care about), but it’ll be immensely rewarding when all of your hard work pays off in the form of college acceptances and scholarships.
But your grades don’t define you
They are important, but they aren’t everything. Just because you didn’t do as well on a test as you wish you had, does not mean you’re complete failure and you won’t get into college. As a perfectionist and someone with huge goals, I know how terrible a low grade can feel. Keep moving forward. Remember that everyone has different strengths, dreams, and talents. Yours may not be in the classroom, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Know how to manage your stress
High school is stressful, but many of the things students worry about are not as big of a deal as they may seem. Manage your time well, stay organized, make time for yourself, and learn to say no. Remember that you can’t control everything, and high school is only four years of your life. It can also be helpful to try some stress-relieving activities, such as exercising, baking, writing, etc. Everyone is different; manage your time and handle your stress in the way that best fits you.
High school is about the time when people start asking where you want to go to college, or what you want to pursue after college. Signing up for clubs, sports, activities and going to as many of the school-wide events as possible not only allows you to figure out what you do and do not like, but to meet new people, which leads me to my next point.
Talk to everyone
Introduce yourself to people you have never heard of or seen before, because you’ll be spending the next four years with them. You’ll go through finals week and Segment 1 classes with them, they’ll become your brothers and sisters. My closest friends are not people who I went to middle school with, but people that I talked to during my first semester of freshman year. And remember, they’re just as nervous as you are, if not, more.
Ask for help when you need it
You have dozens of resources at your disposal if you are struggling throughout the year. Your teachers and counselors are there to make your life easier and to help you with the transition into high school (because it can be a pretty tough one). Do not ever hesitate to go to a teacher if you’re not understanding the material, or to a counselor if you need help with anything. Upperclassmen are there to help you too; they aren’t mean and scary like the movies make them out to be. As a junior, I know that I would be happy to help out a freshman who is still learning the ropes. Asking for help isn’t weird and doesn’t mean you’re stupid, we’ve all been in your shoes, and remember how much we appreciated help during our freshman year. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Soak up every second of it
High school goes by indescribably fast. There will be days when you cannot wait to leave high school behind and move on with the next chapter of your life; still, try to enjoy it. Take in every moment with your friends, soak up every pep rally, and savor every single moment—even the bad ones. Before you know it, you’ll be walking across that stage in a cap and gown, looking at your brothers and sisters, and wondering how 4 years went by so quickly.
I hope this advice helps you as you start this next chapter of your life. High school is a fun, stressful, amazing, overwhelming, and exciting experience, all wrapped up into four extremely short years.