Freshman year of high school is a big change for many students, especially compared to middle school. New facilities, new friends, new classes, new clubs, new opportunities for sports and extracurricular activities. It’s a lot of “new”—but that doesn’t mean it needs to be scary or intimidating.
To start the year off right, let us begin by looking at it through a positive lens. View freshman year for what it truly is: An opportunity.
The Freshman Year Experience: What to Expect
Incoming freshmen will be exposed to many new ideas. Some of those ideas may make them uncomfortable and push them a little bit out of their comfort zone. They will be challenged, meet many new people, and make new friends.
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One of the best parts about these new experiences is the fact that you have control over what some of them will be. From athletics to clubs, there is no shortage of options. You are virtually guaranteed to find something that fits with your personality and current passions.
Incoming freshmen should not let the person that they were in middle school define who they are becoming in their upper school years.
This is your chance to reinvent yourself if you wish because odds are, there will be plenty of new faces, which means more opportunities for first impressions. Starting and maintaining healthy relationships with peers, mentors, and teachers sets you up with a solid support system, which will be vital if and when obstacles arise over the next four years.
Also, understand that who they are entering as in high school is not who they will be exiting as after four years. During that time, expect to be transformed and discover a sense of belonging and identity.
Easing the Transition to High School
One way to smoothly adjust to high-school life is by building relationships with other members of your school community, whether that be with teachers or other students.
At Friends’ Central, for example, each ninth-grader is assigned a homeroom and an 11th-grade peer mentor. This setup helps bridge the gap for younger students as they adjust to the new faces and spaces in the community. The upperclassman is a source of comfort, guidance, and stability—someone that the new student can turn to when they have a problem or a challenge. It’s a built-in support system consisting of someone close to their age that can say, “Hey, this is how I worked through that.”
Freshmen can also work to be active participants in building relationships. Embrace the connection to their 11th-grade mentor. Make meetings with teachers. Some of these things may be mandatory, but others may be optional. Students that take advantage of those kinds of extended opportunities are the ones that usually end up being the most comfortable and the most successful throughout their high school career.
The Road Ahead
Freshman year of high school is the first step in what may be a four-year journey to college; you should still take your academics seriously. High school courses will be more rigorous than those you experienced in middle school, so plan accordingly. Balance your commitments wisely so that you have the appropriate amount of energy devoted to your coursework, extracurriculars, and social life.
To manage what may seem like an overwhelming schedule at first, consider keeping a detailed calendar or planner to help keep track of all commitments. There are many apps available that will help you stay organized so that you never forget that important homework assignment or club meeting.
Finally, remember what lies at the end of the high school road. Colleges and universities look at all four years of high school, and one way you set yourself up for success is by starting your freshman year on the right foot. You are your greatest advocate, so if you do not understand something in class, ask your teachers for help. That is what they are there for. Not only will this improve your grade, but it may also lead to strong, long-lasting relationships with your teachers, which may come in handy when the time comes to ask for recommendations for a job or college application.
It is perfectly normal to feel nervous at the beginning of freshman year. Even though there are many changes, remember there are resources available to help ease your nerves. By establishing a stable support network that encourages risk-taking, you may find that you are capable of more than you imagined.