By: Kara S. 

Dear Freshman, 
Starting high school? Congratulations! I’m so proud of you!  
Yeah, middle school was rough, but you’re past it now, and that’s awesome.  
Welcome to high school! 
Sometimes it feels like a huge rollercoaster with all of its ups and downs. I promise, you’ll survive the lows, and you’ll be able to celebrate the highs. 
Here’s some advice I’ve learned that I hope will help you get through this exciting time. 

  • Get involved. And I mean in everything you think you could possibly enjoy. Clubs are a great way to give yourself something to do and to make friends who have a common interest with you. These clubs will also most likely have upperclassmen members who are usually more than willing to help you with your homework or to find your way around the school. For me, band was my family. You are going to spend so much time with them, and you will soon feel as if you’ve known these people all of your life. Plus, being involved looks great on college and scholarship applications. 
  • Speaking of college, do your research on them. Find out which ones suit your needs, like size, majors, community, and some others. It’s a really good idea to do this research early on, like in sophomore year, so that you can spend your junior and senior year studying for your schoolwork, having fun with your friends, and touring colleges. If you go somewhere on vacation, see if there are any colleges nearby that might interest you, and take a day trip there. 
  • Take every opportunity you can. AP or IB classes, dual enrollment, honor clubs and societies, clubs, sports teams: they all will help you so much down the road. They might teach you leadership skills, time management, teamwork, people skills, communication, and problem solving, all of which will help you in college and in the real world. Every little thing you do adds up tremendously, and it can help you stand out above the pool of applicants trying to get into your dream college or your dream job. 
  • Scholarships will help you so much in college. Apply for everything. Even if you think you won’t get it (maybe other people think they won’t get it either, and then you’ll be the only person). Even if it’s only like $100 (trust me, every little thing adds up in the long run). And answer everything honestly; don't try to write what you think the people giving out the scholarship want to hear, because what they really want to hear is what you have to say. 
  • Honestly, no one really cares that much about how you look everyday. Feel free to really dress down some days. On a related note, it does feel good to look really nice sometimes, so maybe don't scrub everyday. And makeup, literally no one cares if you wear it. I used to, but then I got really lazy and wanted to sleep more, so I just stopped. Now, I wear it every once in awhile, and it’s absolutely great. Also, that pimple on your face, literally nobody actually cares about it. They’re all too busy looking at their phone to notice it anyways. Just try to take care of yourself the best you can, and that’s all anyone can ask for. 
  • It can go without saying that your classes are probably one of the most important part of school because without them, you aren’t going to school, and that kind of defeats the whole purpose, right? Anyways, always challenging yourself enough, but never too much. Start with the common core classes you need to graduate, and make sure they aren't too easy for you. Then, when all of those challenging required classes are in place, pick some good electives. Your electives should be interesting for you (don’t just pick a class because all of your friends are picking that class) and should usually give you a bit of a break from your other tedious courses. For my sophomore year, after I picked my honors literature, AP World History, honors accelerated pre-calculus, honors chemistry, and honors Spanish 3, I chose band to be my last elective because of my love for it and how naturally it comes for me. 
  • Don't stress yourself out too much. If you are able to take 6 AP or IB classes, that’s great! Go for it! But if you think you might be too overwhelmed from it, don't be scared to drop one or two and just take the honors or regular level of that class. There is no shame in that, and you will most definitely thank yourself in the long run. You’ll have more time for other important stuff, like sleeping, socializing, participating in extracurricular activities, and possibly working, all of which are necessary in order for you to be a well-rounded and successful student. 
  • Make sure you pay attention in class. Don’t sit on your phone texting or playing games, and try your best to not doze off or daydream. Most everything the teacher says is important, and you’ll need to know it later.  
  • If there is one thing I’ve learned in the three years of high school that I’ve already experienced, is that relationships with other high schoolers can be hard. You might have to hear what they say, take it into consideration and decide how to react. You can then decide to try to talk to them calmly about it to understand why they are doing it, but if you think that might make things worse, you might have to just let whatever they’re saying just roll off your back. That being said, sometimes people can be really awful repeatedly towards others, which is never okay. If that happens, reach out to a trusted adult. Treat everyone as kindly as you can, no matter how they are treating you. One teacher I had years ago told me "Always be nice to everyone because you never know when you will meet them again down the road." 
  • Find your friend group. This can be people from a club you’re in, the people who sit around you in math class, the kids next door who you walk home with from the bus stop, or even the people you walk from gym to science. Everyone needs a close-knit group whom they can always rely on. If you have a problem, these will be the first people you want to help you. If you have exciting news, these will be the first people you want to congratulate you. If you are upset, these will be the first people you want to comfort you. For me, the trumpet section is my go-to for everything; our group chat is always active, and we are more of a family that just so happens to play the same instrument. Just make sure you’re becoming friends with the right people. You should be able to trust your friends to not pressure you to do something bad. Your friends are the family you can pick out for yourself. 
  • Don’t exclude anyone. No one likes a clique. Talk to that kid sitting alone at the lunch table, and maybe invite him to sit with you and your friends. Be nice to everyone. 
  • This next one is really important, so listen up. If you are ever feeling more sad than usual, maybe for no apparent reason, please, please, please, please, please talk to someone. It could be a parent, a sibling, a teacher, a best friend, a counselor, a next-door neighbor, a sports coach, literally anyone you trust. These people might be able to try to cheer you up, and if they can’t, get you someone else who can help. Even though you might feel like it at times, you are never alone. There are plenty of people who have gone through this or are going through it now. There is someone who can help. 
  • I feel like I won’t have to explain this one much for you to agree with me. Sleep is so important. Make sure you get at least a little bit of sleep every night. 
  • DON’T DATE A JUNIOR OR A SENIOR. Nine times out of ten, it won’t turn out well. My freshman year band director told me this: why would they want to date you when there’s a grade full of people their own age? 
  • On a related note, it is NOT the end of the world if you don't have a significant other. If you do, that’s great! I hope you guys are happy. If you don't, that’s also great! Now you don’t have to worry about what anyone thinks. 
  • Get yourself organized. Get a planner or an agenda or something and write down everything!!!! You don’t want to forget that math homework or think the due date for that big English paper is tomorrow when it’s actually today. And make sure you actually use the planner. Also, I suggest having separate folders or binders for each class, or at least one for your before lunch classes and one for the afternoon. Find a system that works for you. 
  • If your high school is anything like mine, very few people use a locker. Everyone carries everything around in their backpack. This allows you to have everything you need for when you get ready to go home, and if you finish your work early in one class, you have something else to work on until the bell. 
  • Please, always wear deodorant. Even if you don't have gym today (but especially if you do have gym today). 
  • Don’t be embarrassed about being on your period and asking friends for a pad or tampon. Every girl goes through this. We all know how not-fun it is. Girls should always be so willing to help other girls. 
  • I highly highly highly recommend always eating breakfast, even if it’s just a yogurt or a granola bar. 
  • Bring food and water, if your school allows it. You don’t want to get halfway through second period and realize you didn’t eat enough breakfast, but you don’t have lunch until sixth. And water is so important, always. 
  • Appreciate your teachers. No, you don’t need to buy them a gift. But make sure you use your manners, and always treat them with respect. That way, they will probably be more willing to help you if you don’t understand something. There are enough kids they teach who are complete jerks; be the smiling ray of sunshine they need everyday. 
  • Participate in school events. Go to a football game or basketball game. Or two. Or all of them. The student section always has so much energy, and it really is contagious. 
  • If you get a yearbook, read it and keep it. High school yearbooks are really expensive, but they include so much information about what happened that year and who did what. Thirty years from now, you will be able to open it up and read about what you and your friends had to say when you were in high school. Plus, you might have some of your friends sign your yearbook, and that will be an even more personalized look back. 
  • When you become a senior (or even a junior or sophomore), help out the freshmen. Remember how nervous you are right now, when you are just about to start high school. Remember how much more confident you feel now after reading this letter than you did yesterday. And a year from now, you’ll be the sophomore who looks down on the dumb little freshman (trust me, you will think this), but remember that, even if you didn’t feel like it, you were that dumb too on your first day of freshman year. And help them. They will appreciate it so much. 
  • Be you. Don’t let anyone change who you are. You are important and you have a purpose, even if you don't think so.  
  • Have fun! High school is a time to find out what you like and who you are. Don't forget to take a break every now and then and have a little bit of fun. 
Good luck in high school!  
Love Always,  
A Senior 

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