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Student Perspective: Advice for Starting High School

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Each new school year is a milestone in a young person’s life. The thought of going back to school can spark many emotions for students of all ages. Each changing year brings new opportunities, new experiences, and new fears. For example, the excitement of your first day of school in Kindergarten, the anxiety of knowing your first State STAAR test will be administered; as you enter 3rd grade, the nervousness of being the oldest kids in school. In 5th grade, the competitive element that comes into play athletically in Middle School, or the thrill of finally starting High School. Every year in a student’s life is sprinkled with both the sands of time and with memories- one day you are playing on the monkey bars, in the safe cocoon of your Elementary School and the next you’re struggling to memorize your new locker combination. For many kids the biggest transition though, is the jump from 8th to 9th grade. This is the summer you go from being the “top dogs” of your Junior High to the Freshman “fish” of your new High School! As the saying goes: Now you are a “small fish in a big pond.” This new experience can bring loads of anxiety and frustration, but it doesn’t have to be that way. To help navigate the fears of the infamous Freshman year, here are some simple tips to alleviate your stress, prepare you for the year to come, and help you look forward to the changes on the horizon. In the words of Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.”

Enroll in a summer class or receive private tutoring lessons to get ahead for the next school year:

Each school year contains new skills to master. Taking a summer class, working with a tutor, or participating in a group study session; can help you regain and build confidence in the topics you learned the previous year.

In addition, familiarizing yourself with the upcoming school year’s learning topics, ahead of time; can significantly decrease anxiety about going back to school and improve your grades for the new school year.

Plan your schedule now:

Will you be taking the bus to school, walking, or will your parents be dropping you off in the mornings? Will you be walking home with a friend or carpooling? Will your schedule look different every day of the week or the same? Knowing what to expect each day, can be one of the most simple and effective, yet most commonly overlooked aspects of a new school year. The reassurance of knowing what your day will most likely look like can help you to avoid unexpected situations, as well as provide comfort and stability.

Load up on school supplies early:

There’s just something about having a backpack full of fresh notebooks and unsharpened pencils that makes you feel prepared. It may seem like a small detail, but you’d be surprised how much relief can come from being well prepared and organized for a school day. It may also be a good idea to plan out which supplies you will use for each class. For instance, labeling a binder for your Science class or designating a specific composition notebook for Math class, can help you feel more prepared and confident in your abilities. A student agenda or weekly organizer to track homework and test dates is a great way to stay prepared too.

Get together with friends:

Arrange a Starbucks day or a movie night with last year’s friends to reminisce about all the good times you shared and look ahead to the new year. Meet up with familiar Junior High friends in the days leading up to High School, to talk about the year to come. Hearing others opinions can remind us that everyone shares many of the same concerns. Knowing you’re not the only one who feels a certain way, is always a comforting feeling.

Get to know your way around the school:

If your school hands out schedules to incoming students in the summer, be sure to come to your campus early on that day to get your schedule. After you pick up a list of your courses, spend a good amount of time walking to each of your classes. Try to memorize your possible route from the main entrance of the school to your first period, as well as the cafeteria and the gyms. Similar to Middle School, you’ll be expected to walk yourself to each class, and although once you start meeting new people your daily route may change to walk with friends, it will likely be convenient to know your way around school so you won’t feel lost or out of place on the first day.

Plan to get involved:

High School is filled with so many opportunities and ways to excel. Think of your natural strengths and what you enjoy being a part of. Athletic Teams, Dance, Cheer, Band, Drama, and Choir are some of the more well-known affiliations for students. However, don’t forget the numerous amounts of clubs offered on your campus- Journalism, Foreign Language Organizations, Student Government, Debate, Chess, or Art club. If your school doesn’t offer a club for your interest, make a plan to create a club. Extracurricular activities are a great way to make new friends, grow your leadership skills, and build your future college resume!

Relax:

Finally, just breathe. Yes, the thought of entering the big “High School” can be breathtakingly overwhelming, but you’ll become accustomed to your daily routine in that huge building before you know it. Freshman year can be intimidating, but just try to remember you’re walking into the best 4 years of your life. You’ve heard it a thousand times, but since we teenagers never listen, you’re going to hear it again from me, you’re about to make the best memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. So, don’t stress, and enjoy each new day as it comes. You won’t always know all the answers and you will make mistakes, but that’s ok… it’s all a part of the journey. This is your story. Be excited. Be hopeful. Be joyful and write a beautiful one!

Lauren Alleena Williams, is an incoming Senior at Paetow High School in Katy ISD. She is a National Honor Society Student, and a member of the Spanish Club, Student Council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Student Leadership Council. She is the Founder of her school’s Spirit Club, and a Varsity Basketball Player, and Varsity Athletic Trainer. She plans to major in Pre-Medicine in College and works as an Academic Peer Tutor at Counter’s Tutoring Connection.

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