Halfway through the school year marks the time when every student starts thinking about summer and what the following year will bring. For current freshmen, this means imagining the glory of sophomore year and how good it will feel to no longer be the most inexperienced high schoolers. However, for eighth graders, this means carefully observing the mannerisms and behaviors of every high school student you see to try to glean a few tips about how to survive your first year in high school.
Freshman year is a well-known rite of passage; everyone can survived it, but nobody can quite explain how. To a freshman, the many unwritten rules of high school seem like a foreign culture and that’s without the added pressure of being about a foot shorter than the towering seniors you pass in the halls.
Luckily, a student-body of three hundred, who has already conquered freshman year, is ready to support current students. If you can get past the fear of being noticed by an upperclassman long enough to ask their advice, you’ll walk away with a variety of helpful tidbits covering everything from how to manage free periods to dealing with relationship drama.
“A common mistake freshman make is becoming unorganized and getting behind on their homework,” warned Will Florence, Class of ’18.
High schoolers have two unscheduled blocks built into their schedule, but they are left to decide how to use them. The free periods tempt all students toward procrastination and time wasting, but freshmen in particular seem to gravitate toward those temptations.
“See these free periods as an opportunity,” said Emma Coleman, Class of ‘16.
At various times throughout freshman year, you may feel like crawling under your mountain of unfinished work and giving up. However, that feeling can be abated (or even avoided!) through responsible use of free periods for homework and collaboration on group projects.
Bottom line: use it or lose it.
“If you want to avoid drama, just ignore what other people say… don’t try to be someone you’re not,” advised Aanika Gupta, Class of ’18.
It’s no secret that high school contains drama, lots and lots of drama. The trick to surviving freshman year lies in the ability to handle petty comments.
“There are a ton of changes that happen during freshman year. You’re not going to be able to make everybody happy,” said Hanna Rademacher, Class of ’17.
Pretending to be someone you’re not will only inflame the situation. If you embrace your flaws and stay secure in whom you are other students will accept you more readily.
Bottom line: Self-confidence is key! Love yourself and everyone else will too.
“Upperclassmen understand the learning curve that comes with being a freshman,” said Florence.
For the most part, upperclassmen are willing to help freshman adjust because, although they like to pretend that they were always at the top of the food chain, they remember how intimidating their own freshman year was.
“A lot of the upperclassmen will just be chill with you if you don’t try to be something you’re not,” pointed out Coleman.
The most important thing to remember when interacting with the upperclassmen is not to clam up. Your natural instinct is to assume that the older high schoolers see you as just another insignificant freshman, but that’s not true.
“Don’t be shy around them, they want to help you out,” added Florence.
Whether it’s on an athletic team, in a theatre production or during a club meeting, the upperclassmen want your opinion. However, they also don’t want to put you on the spot by forcing you to talk about yourself, so it’s important to speak your mind.
Bottom line: Upper Schoolers don’t bite.
Handling the Pressure
Freshman year is full of stress, but the two most severe forms of pressure stem from your parents and yourself.
First, it’s important to remember that your parents hassle you because they care about you. However, if you feel that the intensity of your parents’ expectations is putting too much strain on your relationship with them, you should speak up.
“If you present yourself in a really mature, almost adult way, parents will tend to be way more accepting,” advised Coleman.
In high school, there are days when everything feels like the end of the world, but it’s important to keep things in perspective. One failed test won’t keep you from getting into college; one detention, although not recommended, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
“Learn from your mistakes and look at what you’ve done wrong and just try to do better,” said Gupta.
Bottom line: Mistakes happen! The best thing you can do is learn from them.
Overall, freshman year is a time to figure out who you are. Once you ARE confident and comfortable in your own skin, everything else will fall into place (even if it feels like it’s falling apart). The most important thing you can learn from your first year of high school is how to be proud of who are and the choices you have made. Everything else you could ever need to know flows out of that main principle.
Oh and one last piece of advice: NEVER clog the stairwell to finish a conversation!
Parents, don’t worry, Michelle Lyon, Provost & Head of Upper School, has more advice in store for you during the “Whole New Ball Game” 9th grade spring registration meeting (attended by both parents and students): April 5, 5:30 – 9:00 p.m., LGMR.
By student reporter Avery Lackner, Class of '18