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How to Survive Freshman Year

Emily Boyle, Contributor

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Congratulations! You’ve conquered middle school, graduated 8th grade, attended an exciting semi-formal, and had a whole summer to celebrate it. Now, you’re a freshman in an unfamiliar school… and if you’re a little lost, confused, or overwhelmed, don’t worry, you are not alone. If you don’t feel any of those things, good for you! You might feel like you are on top of it, making lots of new friends, and all of your school work is trivial. Either way, as a senior, I have some advice that I believe all freshmen should take to heart in order to have their best high school experience possible. There is no worse feeling than entering your senior year and college application season with regret and disappointment in yourself, knowing that you could have done better. Students who feel this struggle do not lack intelligence, but have simply formed bad habits and made silly mistakes. The best way to stop bad habits is to prevent them altogether, so listen to me carefully…

With middle school close at your heels, you may feel a sense of senioritis of sorts. teachers assign so much homework, but it’s not that important, right? Wrong. Not only does homework help you understand and review what you learned in class that day, but it also carries a percentage of your grade. This daily, seemingly insignificant grade is going to have much more impact on your final grade in that class than you may think.

Homework is crucial to true success in a class, no matter how terribly boring and tedious it may be.
For a lot of students, just getting to the point of actually doing their homework is the issue. Procrastination is a terrible, highly contagious disease that affects close to all high schoolers. Your poison ranges from Xbox to Netflix to chronic naps to hanging out with friends to doing absolutely anything besides that one sheet, front and back, of Spanish homework that your teacher assigned. It’s never too late to stop procrastinating. You actually just have to stop.

Get into the habit of doing your homework first, and then rewarding yourself after with whatever you actually would like to be doing. All you are doing is hurting yourself when you push deadlines, or turn in that homework a day late, everyday. Missing and late homework, especially in math classes, lead to gaps in your knowledge or understanding of a subject. When gone untreated, this almost certainly leads to less than satisfactory test grades. Knowing when to ask for help is an essential step in high school, and life in general. Your teacher is there to help you fully understand the material; it’s their job, they will always be happy to help you if you ask them.
Oftentimes just remembering to do the homework is the issue for students, so as a solution, make sure to write down your homework for every period in your agenda book.

If you don’t have homework for a certain period, mark it with an X, so you know you just didn’t forget to write something. Make note of project due dates, tests, and quizzes. Organization is key, so make your agenda your best friend, even if that means buying the new Lilly Pulitzer agenda every year (or super cute cheaper options at T.J. Maxx). Staying on top of organization is sure to keep your head clear and stress levels low. Some teachers have certain combinations of notebooks and binders that they prefer their students to use, but honestly you have to find the system that is going to work best for you. Maybe it’s seven bulky binders, or carefully assembled INB-style notebooks, or even the simple notebook and a folder for each class; whatever is going to keep your handouts, homework, and notes available and organized, is the system you need to utilize.

What works best for me is one of those seven pocket accordion folders for the handouts in each class, paired with corresponding notebooks for the classes that require them. Proficient organization is fundamental to remembering to do the homework, actually finishing it, and knowing where it is when it’s time to turn it in.
High school may seem daunting and difficult, but when approached the right way, it’s actually pretty easy. Walk through the halls with a little more confidence (and awareness of the upperclassmen trying to get around you) and it’ll feel less scary, and more like home each day. It’ll pass you by faster than you think, so enjoy every second and do what you can to give yourself the most opportunities in the future. Friends come and go, drama will happen, but in the end your transcript won’t change, and college is where the real fun happens anyways. Good luck little freshies, and welcome to Nashoba!

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How to Survive Freshman Year