Five Things I Wish I Knew As A Freshman

September 23, 2022

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High school: it’s supposed to be the time of your life. Where you meet your lifelong friends, where you decide what you want to be and (perhaps most importantly) who you will become. 

Going into freshman year, I didn’t know what to expect. My regular day consisted of getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, grabbing breakfast, and going back to bed. From there, I’d attend my classes on my computer, get my daily assignments, enjoy a quick snack break now and then and log off intermittently before finally logging off altogether and ending my school day. 

I wasn’t able to have a “normal” freshman year because of covid. I attended remote for the first year but joined in school learning the next. That year was the one I considered my first year of growth in high school. I learned many subjects that would help branch out my simplistic knowledge and I got to reconnect with so many people who I hadn’t seen in months. But, if I were to pick out five things to tell the freshman class, I would file them down to these…

 

  1. Remember that it’s your first year!

 

Freshman year is the year you get the ball going. It won’t be like Junior and Senior year where you will be under more pressure to excel in standardized tests, AP classes, and college resumes (if you choose to take them). So, when you look at it from a different point of view, your freshman year is not under immense scrutiny to be the year where you have a 5.0 GPA and all college credits and you take all accelerated courses and whatnot. It’s the year where you start to understand which classes you might enjoy taking in the upcoming years and where you get to experience those future courses as well. 

The upperclassmen were very helpful as well–many of my friends would lend me some insight on things such as how to spike a volleyball, which classes gave the most work, and which ones were the most rewarding.

I think that a lot of students are very stressed not only because it’s their first year and all the work but just being able to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The same goes for everyone around you: they are just trying to find their way through all the grades and tests and projects so know that when you feel confused, know that there is someone else who is probably feeling the same way and there will be someone there to help you. 

 

  1. …that being said, be prepared to do work

 

It would be incredibly easy to slack off all the work in the first year because you have three more years to go anyways, right? They should cover whatever happens! 

Wrong. 

My mistake was in thinking that junior year was the most important of all four years just because that’s when we would usually be taking the SATs and PSATs, and that’s all it took for colleges to look at and decide if they wanted to accept or decline you. Yes, that is partially true for colleges–who are incredibly competitive–that require your SAT scores. But they still look at the freshman, sophomore, and senior year, all of which account to your Career GPA. Your Year-to-Date GPA will impact your Career GPA, but the latter influences your resume because it totals all of your YTD GPAs. So you can still have an amazing YTD average for all three years, but all it takes is one lousy year to bring it all down. 

So be prepared to do your homework every single day for every class you will be taking–it might be helpful to get a small agenda and jot down whatever assignments you have due so that you can remind yourself of anything that you need.

Obviously while doing your work, don’t stress yourself over the smallest of things. Maybe you didn’t do so well on a test, quiz, or project—you might be asking yourself, so what now? In the words of the great Dory, just keep swimming. The best thing you can do for yourself is to either ask for a retake or corrections and if that’s not available, prepare yourself for the next upcoming assignment or test or quiz.

For most classes, assessments and projects count for a majority of your grade which sounds terrifying. But there have been many instances where someone could get a 30 on a test but still maintain a grade of 80+. How, you ask? By doing all the homework, classwork and getting all the extra help that is available to them. Yes, these are all very hard things to maintain when you have a seven class schedule that may include higher ranking classes (later on in the years), but it’s better to reach out to your teacher and let them know that you are struggling with time management then to have them think that you are not doing the work because you choose not to. 

I know what it feels like to do awful on an assessment and have that be the only thing racking around your brain. The worst thing it can do is bring your grade down by a few points; but if you let this score get to you, the other upcoming assignments will drag your grade down more. It’s easy to get caught up in all the stress and negativity that comes with a bad grade but just remind yourself to ask for help if you need it, ask for corrections or retakes and take the time to study for upcoming assessments. 

 

  1. Join clubs, sports, and other organizations in the school 

 

While WHS offers many courses to take during school, you should also check out their extracurriculars. Perhaps you’re looking to be a part of the debate team or football team or whatever! I can guarantee you, there are a bunch of clubs that offer a variety of things in this school! 

Such include:

  • Stem Club
  • Robotics Club
  • Math Club
  • Newspaper Club (Shoutout!)
  • MUN
  • Debate
  • Art Club

 

But perhaps clubs are just not enough for you? That’s fine as well–there are a bunch of sports that you can join if you already have an eye on a few:

  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Basketball
  • Hockey
  • Indoor Track
  • Tennis
  • Lacrosse
  • Track
  • Baseball
  • Softball 

 

Yes, it can feel very intimidating to join a sport when you haven’t played on a team or at all before. But I believe it’s better to have tried and regret playing the sport than to have never tried and regret not pushing yourself to try something new. 

When I first joined volleyball, I didn’t know what to expect. I was so nervous and I didn’t understand a single thing about rotations or serving–I didn’t even know that you had to have an “approach” to hit the ball, I would always just hit it! But my teammates guided me through every practice and they wouldn’t hold back on any advice that I needed. True teams like these help you feel better about the steps you will be taking as you go forward and don’t make you regret the mistakes you might have made. 

I loved being a member of the team; late night riding back home, practices where we’d crack jokes. Just like school, a team sport does require your full dedication so you do have to ask yourself, “can I fit all of the practices and games into my schedule and still enjoy this sport?” You can always try a sport out for a few days before the user fee is due so it’s best to wait until 

the last few days before the payment is due to pay the fee. This way you have the time to figure out whether or not this season will be a good fit for you. 

Alongside this, sports build an amazing atmosphere for you and your team and it allows you to bond with and meet so many new people. If you’re more interested in your resume looking good, don’t worry, almost every college loves a team player so whether you’re in the STEM club or you play golf, a college will always look at the extracurriculars you have taken into account the sports you’ve played over your career. 

 

  1. Learning is more than just memorizing

 

Some aspects of academics become muscle memory to many; for example if I were to ask you, what is 2 times 4? You’d immediately think 8. It’s been ingrained in your brain ever since the second or third grade when your teacher told you to complete a times table as much as you could. 

But sometimes, you might come across a subject that requires you to memorize but also understand and apply to other instances. One of the many examples of this is a formula in chemistry you use to convert grams to moles to liters. There is a specific set of rules you need to follow to find the answer but you need to understand how to apply them to get your answer. It’s more than just memorizing that will allow you to get a good grade. It’s being able to explain to yourself how to take the next steps and then taking those steps with absolute confidence in yourself. Ok, maybe you won’t have the confidence of LeBron James going to dunk for every single problem but “having the confidence” just means being able to look at a problem and understand immediately what you have to do and begin setting up your answer after reading the question. 

Many of you might have asked the question, “when will I ever need to know this?”The honest answer?

Probably never. 

But that probability you need to take into account because your grades in these standardized academics are your ticket to a good job or college. Employers and College admission officers rely on your grades and scores because many want the best of the best. Your grades aren’t going to be all they look at but it’s good to have a strong foundation that they can look to. 

 

  1. Ask for help (even if you’re the slightest bit confused!)

 

I remember having this mindset of not asking for help because I thought that I wasn’t reading the question right or I just needed to try harder rather than immediately ask for help. That changed quickly after I realized how wrong I was.  

If you are continuously reading the question over and over, asking yourself ‘what could I have done wrong and not understanding what it is that the question is asking or how to set it up, then you need to ask for help–it doesn’t matter if it’s one or all of these. 

Your teachers are there to help you and support you–it’s their job! Just like it is yours to work to the best of your ability; but how can you do that if you don’t understand what’s going on? Ask your friends for help or ask your teachers but just make sure that you understand the steps you need to take or what it is that the question is asking. Your teachers are there to support you in every way they can so when you are struggling, they will always be there to help you. 

Your first year is, as I said, really when everything starts to pan out. Dedication and hard work are key to a successful academic year, but responsibility and personal morals also play a huge role in your school life and life outside of school. 

 

Hopefully, you’ve gotten down a few things that might help you with your freshman year of high school. Just remember that you should try hard but don’t overburden yourself with the work, don’t be afraid to ask for help, but most importantly relax; it’s your first of a four-year-long journey and you want to look back and see time well spent. 

Good luck! 

 

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