Top 10 Tips for Freshmen: Looking toward a successful high school career

Megan R.

Staff Writer

Starting high school is a huge transition and can be frightening at first. To make it easier, a list has been compiled of the top 10 things upperclassmen wish they had known freshman year.

10. Use your locker.

Do not be the turtle kids who carry their lockers in their book bags. Finding time for locker breaks may be difficult in the beginning. Start with using it before or after lunch, and go from there. Pay attention to how much time is left before the bell rings in each class, and figure out if there is enough time to grab a book. Experiment between classes that are on the same hall as the locker; just do not use locker breaks as an excuse to be late!

9. Be balanced.

In high school time management is crucial. It is important to stay on top of school work, but make sure to have fun with friends too! Do not be the kid who stays home all weekend doing homework; every once in a while, that may be necessary, but make an effort to get out there and have fun. After all, that is part of what high school is about, so do not miss it!

8. Know how to get around school.

Here is the breakdown (with a few exceptions): 100 hall is math, 200 hall is English, 300 hall is electives, the lower 700’s are social studies, the middle 700’s are foreign language, and the upper 700’s are science. The 500 hall is band and chorus, 600 hall is lunch and art, and the trailers are a mix of classes. When walking down the hall, please stay on the correct side; do not walk in the middle or against the flow of people. Also, never stop in the middle of the hallway to chat with friends; instead, move over to the lockers or into a breezeway.

7. Go in for help.

“Go in early for extra help. It helps you get to know your teacher better, and you get one on one time with the teacher. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone,” says Kendra Harris, junior. Do not be afraid to ask teachers for help; it is their job to help students, and teachers want to see students succeed! Plan on going in before or after school rather than trying to squeeze in a tutoring session three minutes before class. Many teachers post set tutoring schedules on their doors or websites; otherwise, they will make themselves available at a student’s request.

6. Use the Learning Commons

One of the biggest mysteries freshman year is what and where is the learning commons? Some teachers use it throughout the year, but others never touch it. The learning commons is right next to the front office. The learning commons, obviously, is a reference center flowing with books. However, it is equally full of computers and study tables open for the use of students. It is open almost all day, before and after school. Lunch is a perfect time to go and get ahead on homework or to work on group projects. There is usually a teacher standing outside of the lunch room handing out learning commons passes, but get there early, as the passes run out quickly. Sometimes teachers will write students passes to the learning commons as well.

5. Be prepared.

The easiest way to get on a teacher’s bad side is to show up to class unprepared. Always bring these three items to class no matter what: something to write with, something to write on, and somewhere to keep papers. For anything else that may be needed, check the teacher’s syllabus.  Do not be afraid to ask questions if unsure about what is needed in class that day. For the most part, teachers do not mind this; it shows that a student is involved in the class.

4. Get involved.

This is probably the best advice anyone can give in high school. Why? Getting involved is for making countless new friends, but it also is very important for college applications and for the high school experience in general. “Go to all of the home football games,” advises Mrs. Deborah Hipp, chemistry teacher. Closer to junior and senior year the dreaded phrase “the well rounded student” will arise. Do not worry; instead, join clubs, try sports, go to football games, and get a job!

3. Be original.

Though it is quite cliché, if not irritating to repeat, “Be yourself!” High school is the midpoint between adulthood and childhood, the golden opportunity for teenagers to create and discover themselves. Despite common belief, having a charismatic personality is much more eye-catching than wearing the newest trends. Many people spend their entire high school career following the crowd and copying others; when they look back on these four years, there is nothing that makes them stand out, nothing to be remembered by.

2. Work hard now.

In other words, do not be a slacker. Do homework, study, ask questions! Every grade for the next four years that can be seen on a report card can be seen by the colleges a student applies to. Make them count! “Do your homework; do not fail something just because you would rather hang with friends,” advises junior Leigha Woodard. The decisions made today affect tomorrow. Do not be the kid who slacks off until senior year and then decides to try to pull up the GPA; it will not work.

1. Do not procrastinate.

Stay on top of homework and plan ahead for projects. A student who has poor planning is more likely to fail a class than a student with wonderful time management skills. “Do not get behind. Stay on top of your work, and as soon as you realize you do not understand something, go in for help,” recommends Mrs. Adrienne Taylor, math teacher. One of the most popular tasks for freshmen to procrastinate on is reading. Try to avoid Spark Notes unless a book is ridiculously hard to understand, and then only use the site for summaries. Never replace a book with Spark Notes! Is it possible to pass a test without reading the book? Of course, but reading books in high school is very useful when taking the SAT. Every book assigned in high school has SAT words, so read the books now, know the words later.

If nothing else, remember this as the journey through high school begins: think ahead. When making a decision, think about how it will hurt and help in the long run. Enjoy high school; these are the last four years of freedom! Just make sure when it is time to leave, to embrace adulthood, or to go to college, the decisions made freshmen year make it possible to move on.


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