Scared about starting your freshman year of high school? This former high school student will show you the way! Before freshman year, most young people receive an abundance of advice from siblings, parents, grandparents, friends of parents, teachers, and just about every person who has been through high school. Most of that advice isn’t inherently bad, but it isn’t always as applicable as those who give it may believe. Here are four pieces of advice that you will most likely hear (or have heard already) going into your freshman year of high school, along with the parts that you shouldn’t follow devotedly.
“Get involved in lots of activities”
Okay, yes, you should get involved. If you don’t high school will be extremely boring, not to mention you’ll be missing out on important opportunities to do stuff you love, learn about yourself, and gain experiences to put on your college résumé. What you shouldn’t do is participate in a bunch of activities you don’t even like just to fill up your résumé and/or doing so many things that you never have free time. Don’t like sports? Then don’t do sports. (But do keep in mind less common options like cross-country, swimming, bowling, etc. You might find a sport you really do enjoy.) It is a good idea to do some athletic activity as it is a great way to relieve stress and stay fit, but it doesn’t have to involve a team or 10 hours of practice every week. If you love an activity, give it your all, but make sure you can still manage your time effectively. You still need time for friends, family, and homework (there really will be a lot more homework in high school, though it may not be a huge amount freshman year). Make sure you know what activities your school offers and participate in ones that really interest you. And if none of them interest you, do your own thing!
Related: How to Navigate High School Clubs and Activities
“Try new things”
You will encounter a lot of new situations and activities in high school. A. Lot. These can be good things like new friends, after-school activities, and fun events, but it can also be academic cheating, sex, drugs, and alcohol. At some point or another, you will face these new things, and you will have to make a decision—and live with the effects. Do not be afraid to try new things, but don’t be afraid to say no either. It might be hard sometimes, but trust your gut and do what you know is best for you in the long run. And don’t care what people think about it.
“Start preparing for your future now”
Of course you should keep your grades up, take challenging classes, and find some activity that you enjoy (like I mentioned above), but, chances are you don’t know what your future will hold. And even if you did, it could change a lot between freshman year and when you apply to college. When I was little, I wanted to be a rock star guitarist, freshman year I wanted to be a pianist, and now, senior year, I’m not certain exactly what I want to do, but I know that it will be in the field of science. I know there’s a lot of pressure to get ready for college, but the best way to prepare for your future is not to immediately take as many classes as possible in the area you think you will study in college. Instead, take a wide range of classes (and after-school activities) so you have a chance to explore areas that you have not yet been exposed to.
“Avoid dating like the plague!”
Sure, relationships can be a little distracting and a source of drama, but dating is a normal part of being a teenager. If the chance to date someone you like presents itself, go for it! (That being said, don’t date seniors—that’s always bad news for freshmen!) Don’t think about it as a long-term thing at first, but do have fun hanging out with that person. Have realistic expectations about free time and spending money, as well as the physical parameters of your relationship (that’s very, very important). And remember: your relationship should be enjoyable and shouldn’t inhibit family time or friendships. If something goes wrong or just doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to end things. There are plenty of other fish in the sea when the time comes.
Related: How to Save Money for College as a High School Student
You may have heard that everything changes in high school. Well, it’s really the same as how “everything changes” when you go from elementary to middle school. Things change, of course, but the changes usually take place pretty gradually. You probably won’t find your new best friend on day one of freshman year, and the teachers will not give you a full load of work. So don’t stress and take things one day at a time. Just make sure you work to the best of your ability and do some things that you enjoy. High school is much less intimidating than people make it out to be.
There’s more great advice on getting through high school in our Student Life section. Stay a while and read a couple of blogs!