Surviving Freshman Year of High School

It was bound to happen eventually. The year that begins that period in every teenager’s life. Yes, the one in those dreaded tales told by every middle school teacher. High School.

Even if you aren’t a freshman, or even in high school anymore, I hope that you can at least reminisce with me about that fateful year. For the rest of you that are, hopefully I can provide some insight on doing well in your classes in freshman year.

I’m not claiming to be the expert in all things academic. I’m just a high school senior reminiscing about freshman year. I’m pretty much relaying advice that I wish I had gotten when I entered high school.

High School Classes Are Hard

It doesn’t matter if you got all A’s in middle school. It doesn’t even matter that you didn’t study to get those perfect grades. Regardless of who you are, high school is going to be a challenge. All A students sometimes turn into C grade students within the first quarter of high school.

Yeah, it’s that bad. Earning good scores in high school requires dedication, straight out of the gate. Within the first week, you will be challenged and bombarded with droves of homework and assessments.

For my school, these classes come in the form of Pre-AP classes, which are pre-college classes. Your school may have other forms of advanced classes, but essentially, the classes are on a whole other level. They are hard.

They’re not insurmountable, however. You can get through these classes with the grades you want. It just requires some dedication, and a little cliche advice.

Ask Questions in Class

This might seem a little cliche, but remember to ask questions in class. Your teachers have years of experience in the subject they are teaching. Most likely, they have insights to those key “light bulb” moments (special thanks to my freshman year history teacher for that phrase) that just might help you with subjects that you struggle with.

Asking questions in class also ensure that you are actively learning the material, instead of passively listening during class. Engaging with the content by asking questions helps to remember the content better.

Do the Optional Homework

Homework is an amazing way to reinforce your understanding of a subject. It’s one thing to listen during class, but it’s another thing to understand and practice the content all together.

For example, take math. Actually doing the problem is completely different than watching someone else do it.

Don’t Cram

You’re going to be tested in high school in more ways than one in high school. Most likely you’ll have one or two quizzes per week depending on the level of classes that you take. Likely, many of them may be on the same day. In my opinion, cramming for these tests are strenuous. Plan to study two or three days in advance for quizzes and five days for tests.

The human brain isn’t meant to cram in large amounts of information all at once. Instead, studying in spaced intervals increases your chances of remembering the information you studied.

Stay Organized

As convenient as shoving your homework into the depths of your backpack is, it’s not organized. What happens when you just can’t find that homework you know you did but yet can’t find? Your teacher won’t care. It’ll still be a late grade in the grade book.

Keeping yourself organized not only keeps your countless papers in order, but it also keeps your brain in order. Being unorganized is like a bad itch you just can’t scratch. Staying organized prevents that from ever happening. You can reduce the amount of time you spend looking for your stuff and spend time on other things, and keep your mental state clear all in one fell swoop. I might do a blog post on staying organized later. Be sure to follow me for updates.

At this point, you probably see why I though that this advice was cliche, and it is. However, this cliche advice creates good habits. Remember that this is freshman year, and it only gets harder from here. Creating those good habits now ensures that you won’t struggle to create them later.

Follow Your Passion

This is probably the most important advice that I can give.

I want you to think about the subject that you like the most. It doesn’t have to be an intense so called passion yet, but it should be something that you definitely enjoy doing. Think about pursuing that interest for the next couple of years. If that thought is exciting, then you are one step closer to finding your passion.

So why’s passion important?

You’ll Enjoy Your Classes More

Knowing your passion should play a key role in how you choose your classes in the next four years. For starters, focus not on boosting your GPA, but pursuing the classes which interest you. You’ll enjoy them more, and if you like a subject, you’ll most likely do well in those classes. You won’t mind studying for hours because you’ll like the material you are studying.

For example, let’s say you are interested in computer science. Your school offers an introductory class in computer science. Unfortunately, taking that class would mean that you wouldn’t be able to take that easy full weighted class that is offered by your school.

That’s completely OK. You’ll likely get more out of that computer science class than you would that full weighted class anyway.

Clubs and Activities

By far, clubs and outside of school activities are the best way to develop your passion. Unlike classes, they aren’t standardized, so you can pursue your interests without being scored on performance.

Knowing what you are passionate about is extremely important in choosing which activities you want to pursue. Your time is valuable, so choosing only a few select clubs that you are dedicated to is key. You’ll enjoy the activities that you participate in. It won’t feel like a filler activity. Instead you’ll feel productive, and in turn, feel even more strongly about your passion.

Conversely, don’t waste your time on activities that people say look good for colleges. I tried doing that, and I wasn’t a fan. Instead, I dropped most of them and decided to create my own club based around my interests. I have no regrets about doing so. I’ll write a post about this too.


Thank you guys so much for reading! I know this was short, and there are probably a lot more unanswered questions. If you have any, list them down in the comments. I’ll try to answer your comment ASAP! I also plan on covering some of the topics that I feel are worth expanding on. Make sure to follow me here on Medium for updates!

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