Updated: Jul 31, 2019
Congratulations on making it past the circus that is middle school! You have graduated past the axe-smelling hoard of boys leaving gym class, the middle school dating gossip, and you are on the way to more freedom (but with that, more responsibility).
For me, the transition from middle school to high school wasn't unbearable. Being in band during middle school allowed me to make several long-lasting friends that carried into my high school career. Band also gave the ability to meet upperclassmen and tour the high school with them before school started, making the transition easier. Of course there are things I would do differently, but for the most part, I can say "MOMMA I MADE IT".
I realize that everyone might not have this ideal situation based off your hobbies and interests and what your school district does for incoming freshman. This is why I have made a list of 5 key things to do in order to make it out alive from your freshman year of high school.
1. Do not join every club possible.
I understand it is very tempting to want to participate in all the new opportunities and clubs that will become available to you during your freshman year, especially seeing all of the upperclassmen being presidents of clubs and hosting club meetings. However, one of the biggest mistakes you could make would be joining every single new club. First of all, you have classwork, extracurriculars, and life at home you have to balance with being in a club.
Clubs are commitments just like all of these other activities, and if you join every possible club known to man at the high school, something is going to give - whether it be your grades or time for sleeping. Secondly, you will not enjoy every single club that is offered. Find clubs that offer volunteer hours and also clubs that align with your hobbies/future career. Not only do these look good on resumes, but you also get to enjoy (hopefully) what you do in the club.
2. Do not skip Freshman Orientation for your school.
Do not try and be freshman that skips orientation at the school because they deem themselves "all-knowing" about the school layout and rules, and shows up to the first day completely clueless. All of the other people at the orientation will be freshman as well. You will see your friends, get to compare schedules, and tour the school and meet your teachers. Use this time to find your locker if need be, plan out the quickest ways to get to each class, and start to get to know your teachers. They will be your lifeline the next 4 years. Use this time to ask about dress code rules (yes, we all hate them but they are there), attendance policies, homework policies, and of course make new friends with students who did not go to the same middle school as you. You are stuck with them for the next 4 years, so might as well get to know them- they could be your lifelong friends in the future!
3. Be reasonable with yourself when selecting your courses.
Do you have baseball practice everyday after school for 3 hours? Do you have to babysit your younger sibling a few times out of the week? Do you have a job? Are you in different extracurriculars that are time demanding? If yes to some of these questions, then you especially want to be cautious about what type of classes you take. If your school offers AP or Pre-AP Courses, definetly take them, but do not take more than what your schedule allows. All nighters are no fun, and some AP Courses can take up to 1-3 hours of homework per night. Mutliply this across 8 classes PLUS outside commitments = no sleep for Glen Coco.
Do challenge yourself with your course load. Colleges enjoy seeing students who can maintain and SUCCESSFULLY balance a hard school workload and outside commitments, but do not overrun yourself. Perhaps choose only AP classes that pertain to your future career, and do On-Level and Pre-AP other courses. Be sure to communicate with your teachers and counselors about commitments required for each class, and make adjustments accordingly.
4. Respect your teachers!
This is so important. They will be your lifeline the next 4 years. Although you may not have the same teacher again after freshman year, staying in contact with them and being a good student during orientation and class means letters of recommendation and a better classroom experience for you in the future. Teachers do talk across grade levels, so if you are disrespectful in science freshman year, you can bet your sophomore teacher next year will already know about you (and not in a good way).
Do your assignments on time, take quality notes, and do not be afraid to ask questions or come before or after school to get help. If people make fun of you for seeming to be a "goody two-shoes" or the "teacher's pet", let them-they are probably not your friends anyway (or friends you want to keep). The grades you make in high school ultimately help determine what college you go to and your future career. Teachers are there to help you, not hurt you. They will appreciate you more if you actually put in effort than not trying and talking during class all the time (this choice could potentially get you bumped from a 89.4 to that key 89.5 at semester).
5. You will gain and lose friends, and that Is completely okay!
People will change, including yourself. You will come to realize that your hobbies and interests with some of your former middle school pals change, and you will drift apart. That's totally fine!
High school is a time for people to discover what they want to do, and to also define themselves (again). Some middle school friends will change personalities, maybe follow bad practices, and you have no choice but to distance yourself with them for your personal safety. High school is full of new people, go and talk to the one kid in math, sit with someone new at lunch, join a club with people of the same interest as you. You will be surprised as to what lasting friendships will arise after a simple "hello :)".
I hope this post will help give you a head start on tackling your freshman year of high school. Work hard, but have fun also (within reason). You only get to enjoy each year of high school once (as long as you do not fail, but with balance and hard work, you should make it just fine).