Your first day of high school is a milestone that is both exciting and nerve-wracking for nearly every student. You’re typically fourteen years old when you start high school and are forced to walk the halls with students that are much older than you. You hope to find all of your classes, and breathe a sigh of relief when you see your friends sitting in the back row. Even though high school has only just begun, you’re that much closer to starting college. Those four years fly by and setting yourself up for success early is important in the long run.
1.Getting good grades is cool!
Starting high school is an adjustment and many students find themselves struggling in their first few semesters. The workload can be overwhelming and classes are much more challenging. It’s important that you’re studying hard and completing all of your homework assignments on time.
If you find yourself having trouble adjusting in the beginning, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek out tutoring assistance, ask your teachers for help, and spend a little more time focusing on problem areas. You’re going to school to learn, so why not do the best you can? It’s much easier to maintain a good GPA than to try and climb up when it may be too late.
2. Join all the clubs
Okay maybe not all of them, but a lot. Try to join all the clubs that spark your interest and fit into your schedule. Of course, leave room for studying and socializing, but you should be taking advantage of the extracurricular opportunities your high school provides. If you’re interested in engineering, you should be the first to sign up for the engineering club!
Extracurricular activities are not only looked at positively by admissions officers but are also a great way to make new friends. According to the Princeton Review, admissions officers will look at your extracurricular involvement as a testament to your leadership skills and maturity. Explore different clubs, even ones you aren’t sure you’ll enjoy. There is no harm in going to a few meetings then deciding something isn’t right for you. But the worst thing you can do is not try.
3. Get to know your school’s faculty
It can seem intimidating to speak with your teachers and other faculty members. Knowing the staff at your high school can come in handy when you’re faced with new challenges and need advice. Getting the staff to know you can be an excellent way to build connections when it’s time to ask for letters of recommendation, according to U.S. News. Many teachers will also serve as club sponsors for extracurricular activities that you may be interested in. You already have a shared interest, why not find more?
4. Stay organized
Between classes, extracurricular activities, spending time with friends, and fulfilling any household responsibilities, you’re going to have a full plate. It’s so important to start (or maintain) habits of staying organized.
There are many ways to stay organized while in high school. One of the best methods of organization is keeping a planner of your day-to-day activities. You can do this directly on your phone’s calendar app or by buying a physical planner. You can also create “to-do” lists, checklists, vision boards, or anything else to stay on top of your tasks.
5. Set goals
You should always be setting goals for yourself through every step of your life. We recommend setting short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Short-term goals are goals that can be completed in two weeks to a month. An example would be getting an A on an English paper. Mid-term goals are goals that can be completed in a month to two months. An example would be joining two extracurriculars. Long-term goals are goals that can be completed in three months to a year. An example would be finishing 9th grade with a 4.0 GPA. According to Grade Power Learning, goal setting can help students stay motivated and give them the chance to measure their progress over time. By setting these goals you can determine if you’re moving at a pace you’re comfortable with and whether or not you’re getting out of your high school experience that you wish to.
6. Seek out new challenges
Even if you are taking a full load of challenging classes, you should always try to be improving yourself. Maybe there is a science fair coming up and you would like to enter it. Or perhaps your school’s culinary program is having a bake-off and you know a great brownie recipe. Whatever it is you should be seeking out ways to stand out and challenge yourself.
If you aren’t taking the most difficult classes, really consider pushing yourself next year. Even though you’re just a freshman you should always be thinking a few steps ahead. Take a look at what classes are offered for sophomores, juniors, and seniors at your school. Try to map out the coursework you want to take. Admissions officers will appreciate you pushing yourself both in the classroom and outside of it.
7. Get enough sleep
Typically high school starts anywhere between 7:00 am and 8:00 am which is much later than your usual middle school schedule. This can be a huge adjustment, especially if you are staying up late doing homework, finishing up chores, and talking to friends. You’re going to find yourself tired and it’s going to be hard to concentrate on your classes. According to the CDC, students that get enough sleep report less attention and behavioral problems. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night so you can perform to your highest potential every day. You don’t want to be nodding off during an important lesson in class.
In addition to that, you should try to eat a healthy breakfast before getting to class. Eating chips, drinking soda, or coffee will not only harm your attention span but it can make you feel sick and make you crash halfway through the day. You want to stay alert and pay attention in your classes.
8. Make new friends
You might still have the same friends from middle school but you should use high school as a chance to make some new friends. We know that “social status” is important to high schoolers and being ‘cool and popular’ is what most students desire. But it’s important to remember that the cool and popular kids don’t stay cool and popular forever. Try not to focus so much on social hierarchies and try to make friends with everyone. Be kind to everyone you see. Making these friendships can be the determining factor between an isolating high school experience full of drama or a positive one with meaningful connections.
Branching out your social groups can mean making new friends that have different interests, talents, backgrounds, and values as you. By doing this you’re preparing yourself to meet different kinds of people when you go off to college. It’s important to note that not everyone will dress like you, like the same music as you, or celebrate the same holidays as you. But by exposing yourself to that early you’ll be more tolerating and accepting of other people and the transition to college will be much easier.
9. Have school spirit!
You’ll have a more memorable high school experience if you’re actually engaged in school events. Dressing up during spirit week, attending pep rallies, cheering on your school’s sports teams during games, and representing your school proudly will be a huge factor in motivating you to perform well. This spirited energy is also highly desirable by colleges during the application process. You’re more likely to be nominated as president of certain clubs, to win a few awards, and to leave people with an overall positive experience after spending time with you. According to a study conducted by the National Federation of State High School Association, students that exhibit school spirit are typically top performers in their school.
You don’t want to look back at your high school years and wish you were more involved. You want to look back on your high school experience and know that you took advantage of all the social opportunities your school provided for you. It might seem cliche, but that’s what makes it fun!
10. Be true to yourself
There is going to be a lot of pressure to “fit in”. There is a lot of bullying in high school and students sometimes feel like they have to conform to what their peers are doing in order to stay above it. It’s important that you’re staying true to who you are and expressing yourself in a way that is authentic.
Starting high school is challenging but exciting. While college is four years away, these next four years are pivotal in setting yourself up for success. Make sure you are taking advantage of all the opportunities available to you and making the most of the experiences. Hang tight because these next four years will go by fast. Don’t let it slip by!
If you’re looking to make the most out of your freshman year, we can help. Learn more about about our comprehensive college admissions program by scheduling a consultation.