Sofia’s Declassified School Survival Guide: for Freshmen!

Welcome, freshmen, to high school. Middle school to high school is a big change. High school is new and weird, and honestly kind of scary. Freshman year can be difficult to navigate, especially in this COVID era. However, that’s where I, a proud survivor of freshman year can help you.

Let’s start with the basics: Pay attention in class. Take those notes, open up those eyes, and force yourself to retain that information. It may not be easy to do so from behind a screen, but your life will be a hundred times easier if you take steps to retain that information before you are slammed with end-of-quarter tests. 

We all struggle with something when it comes to academics. Whether it be the entirety of math, or just the concept of whatever mitosis is, the struggle is indeed, very real. However, that’s where your teachers come in. They can lessen your struggle and build your understanding…if you ask questions! Sometimes the instruction you receive in class is not enough. You may have to go the extra mile and ask a few questions via emails (I suggest using Canvas’ email feature) or during Wednesday’s virtual check-in periods, which is perfectly fine. Do not be afraid to ask questions! That’s what your teachers are there for, and it will only help you. If you find yourself still needing help, YouTube videos and Khan Academy are always saviors in a cinch. 

Speaking of help, don’t forget to help yourself by not doing your work the night before it’s due. I know this may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to fall victim to lack of motivation, especially since you work from home now. However, you certainly do not want to start your high school academic career already falling behind. Slacking off freshman year is not worth it. Once you get used to not doing your work, it’ll be way too hard for you to break out of the habit of not doing it. Your future self will thank you for making the effort to be a good student, scout’s honor.

To stay on top of your work, create a schedule and stick to it. Block off certain times to do your schoolwork, and make sure to take some mental health and physical activity breaks in between. If you work for 45 minutes straight, take 15 minutes to go for a walk or eat a healthy snack. By setting up a routine, you become more productive and aren’t as likely to fall into a quarantine slump or forget important dates/deadlines. Keeping a schedule or planner will also help you keep track of the days when all of them seem to be blurring together. Eventually, doing your schoolwork will become a habit, and you won’t have to resort to countless hours of all-nighters just to catch up on your work. Your grades and your sleep schedule will thank you for that one.

Studying: The bane of high school students’ existence. It is not fun by any means- unless you make it fun. Fun and studying don’t seem like words that should be mentioned in the same sentence at first glance. However, it can be if you really try! Use fun colors to write and highlight, give your notes some life and also, making it easier to find information, too. Use fun structures and doodles to help enhance your experience. Pinterest is a really good place for inspiration! If you’re someone who needs background noise, listen to some calming music in the background (spa or classical music playlists on YouTube and Spotify are solid options).  In general, try adopting study habits like making flash cards, using Quizlets, FaceTiming friends not taking that class and teaching them the material you’ve learned, and rereading your fun, color-coded notes.

Your academic life is important, but so is your social life. I know it’s hard with the current situation, but when the time comes for us to go back to school, you’re going to want to make new friends. First things first: make the first move. No one bites, and you’ll never know what potential friends you could make with just a simple, “Hi,” or a smile. Put yourself out there, join that club, say hi to that girl in your English class, you can do it! Take it from me, and  make friends your freshman year.  You may find yourself drifting apart from your middle school friends as you discover new interests in high school/ Both losing and making friends are natural parts of growing up. 

These are all helpful pieces of advice, but the most important one in my eyes would be this one: It will all turn out fine, one way or another. One bad grade will not be the end of the world. High school drama will not matter. Everything is temporary, and that includes the bad things. Although negative experiences are inevitable in your high school, so many good things are coming your way. Also, don’t forget: No matter what the upperclassmen tells you, there is no pool on the third floor.