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Advice for Students Beginning their Freshman Year in High School

Posted by Olivia Civiletti on September 8, 2017 at 11:30 AM
Olivia Civiletti

High SchoolWhile exciting and hopeful, beginnings can also be frightening and uncertain. A student’s freshman year of high school is one of those hopeful, yet undetermined beginnings. You can be anything and do anything which is as much daunting as it is exhilarating. The next four years will help prepare a student for whatever the future holds, so it is very important that it go as smoothly as possible. With awareness and foresight, all of the stress of beginning school can be replaced by the excitement and joy it deserves. To ease the transition from middle to upper school, incoming freshmen should try:


Participating in a fall sport such as volleyball, field hockey, soccer, or cross country means coming to school a few weeks early for fall preseason. This bonding through sports practices makes the transition from middle school smoother as it gives students a head start getting to know people before school gets too busy. Preseason offers a few stress-free, fun, and hard-working weeks in which to get to know some of the other high schoolers. Students also get an opportunity to form a bond with an upperclassman who can give them advice about school.

Joining a few clubs
Joining clubs is a great way for freshmen to quickly get involved in the school’s community and a great way to meet like-minded people. By participating in a club that reflects the student’s interests, he or she is more likely to meet people who have similar interests and values. Clubs are also an excellent opportunity to gain leadership experience. Students can spearhead a club’s project or become part of the leadership of the club itself. These leadership positions sometimes help a college application as it allows colleges see how students apply themselves outside of the classroom.

Going to teachers for extra help
Believe it or not, teachers actually want to help their students as much as they can and want them to achieve all that they are capable of. If the freshmen year classes quickly become harder than expected, students should absolutely approach their teachers for extra help. Whether it be explaining a concept in more depth, doing practice problems, going over a test, or discussing the possibility of dropping the class, teachers are always more willing than students think they are to help the students succeed.

Approaching academics without fear

Even though the stakes are higher in upper school than in middle school, incoming freshmen should feel comfortable taking risks especially when it comes to academics. High school is a good place to fail; students have a safe environment to fall down and time to get back up with their peers and teachers supporting them. Freshmen in high school should be encouraged to take the honors versions of courses they are interested in.

Being yourself
Though movies and TV shows have tried to convince us otherwise, high school is a place where students can be themselves and express who they are. It can be an easy piece of advice in its simplicity, but it is integral to having a successful freshman year. Everyone is nervous, so students should try to keep it simple and be themselves.

Whether dreaded or anticipated, freshman year is one that students will never forget. It is full of new experiences, new friends, and new challenges. When students are prepared for this life-changing step, it proves to be a worthwhile and memorable childhood chapter which shapes children's characters for life.

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Olivia Civiletti is a member of Sanford School's Class of 2017. She is currently attending Johns Hopkins University.

See also: Information about Sanford's Upper School

Topics: Health & Wellness, High School Experience