Insider's Guide to High School Perspective Top

What to do – and not do – in your first year of high school

Author Meghan Lanzi has some advice for incoming freshmen and transfer students. (YJI photo)

Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S.A – Many people shiver in fear at the thought of traversing the halls of their new high school, whether it be as a freshman or a transfer student.

While apprehensiveness is completely normal and to be expected, here are a couple of tips to quell your worries –as well as some important things to avoid.

Do: Be open-minded and friendly with classmates.

Many people enter high school with a negative mentality, which typically results in an overall negative perception from peers. The vastness of your campus may feel overwhelming, but you can find community and support from classmates if you look for it.

Many students grapple with difficult course work, and find camaraderie in that shared struggle. You can find friendship in helping classmates out with assignments, sharing materials, or collaborating on projects.

Don’t: Let others – or yourself – hold you back.

High school is a privilege in that it permits you to explore a vast array of interests, giving you the opportunity to discover a lot about yourself. There are intriguing classes, plenty of clubs, and chances for you to even start your own club, though many students don’t seize these opportunities. This can be because a student is afraid of how others may perceive them for joining a certain club or activity, as stigma can be frightening.

Students also refrain from joining extracurriculars or classes due to a lack of experience or fear of failure, which can be difficult to overcome.

Much of this anxiety will lead you to forgo a chance to expand your abilities and enjoy yourself. Don’t let it! 

There is plenty of support to be had from the administration, your teachers, and your friends. You can always transfer out of a course if it is too rigorous, drop a club if it doesn’t interest you like you thought it would, or ask for help from mentors if you don’t understand something.

Sydney Holmes, a student from Wilmington, NC, decided to triumph over her own apprehensions and the external opinions of others and transfer to a different high school as a sophomore. 

Holmes was originally afraid of being thrown into an entirely new social environment, though after deliberation, decided to “just do it.” She said fellow students shouldn’t let others or themselves deter them from doing things to satisfy their own happiness.

“Don’t be hesitant if you want to do it, just do it,” she said.  

Do: Use the resources available to you.

An inordinate number of students are absolutely ignorant about the amount of resources their school has that could really help them. Whether it’s a scholarship list or tutoring, many students fail to seek out these tools.

Many of these opportunities or resources can be found on your school’s website, mentioned on your morning or afternoon announcements, listed on a bulletin board, or communicated to you by your teacher.

With the immense innovations in online social platforms, applications like Google Classroom and Gmail are also often used to inform students of opportunities and resources to help them prevail during the school year.

To make use of all the tools available to you, make sure to be proactive. Pay attention to your teachers, school announcements and news. Watch your email or social notifications, and navigate your school’s website. 

Don’t: Succumb to peer pressure.

High school is a crucial first step towards preparing you for future success beyond freshman year, though many new students are overwhelmed by peer pressure and ignore their academic responsibilities.

If a student is being rude to your teacher, do not do the same. Just because your classmate garnered some laughs does not make it worth it. A teacher recommendation is much more valuable than temporary validation. Be confident enough to put yourself first when it comes to making important decisions.

Meghan Lanzi/YJI
Do: Schedule, schedule, schedule! 

There are so many things to do in high school, so make sure you portion your time for each part of your life. Cultivating and keeping a good GPA is imperative, but so is making time for yourself. Creating a schedule or employing a device like a daily planner is very helpful when trying to organize your commitments. Note-taking software like Notion are also great ways to track deadlines, objectives, and projects inside and outside of school.

Don’t: Forget to take care of yourself.

Balancing your academic obligations, social life, and personal passions can be utterly exhausting. Don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself.

Your mental, physical, and emotional health are all integral to your wellbeing. If you are suffering from anxiety due to deadlines or emotional distress from an expectation to perform well, communicate that to an adult you trust.

Many students are so busy with trying to keep themselves from drowning in school work, maintaining friendships, and keeping up with after school activities that they forget to take time to nurture themselves. Make sure you do!

Meghan Lanzi is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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