Reflections on freshman year: Just relax.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three years since my freshman orientation. Before freshman year, I worried about everything from late nights up doing homework to getting bullied by upperclassmen (I was pretty creative when I was 14).As I waited for the bus on my first day of high school, my teeth chattered even though it was still fairly warm—I felt sick to my stomach. I made sure to always follow someone else around for the rest of that day as I didn’t want to be caught alone in a new school.

Just relax.But, looking back on freshman year and high school in general, I realize that I was foolish to be so nervous ahead of my first day. Rather than treating my new school with nerves, I should have greeted it with excitement. Freshman year is a pretty rare situation because everyone is dealing with the same problems—not knowing much of his or her grade, finding his or her way around a new school, and adjusting to a new workload. As a result, the beginning of freshman year is a great time to meet new people, because everyone will want to introduce his or herself to the rest of the grade.

Finding my way around the school proved to be not too challenging either. The school is laid out like a grid, and there are signs on the walls that label how to get to each hallway and make it pretty easy to get around. But, if you can’t find a class, those upperclassmen I was so scared of will be happy to help you locate it. Also, for the first couple weeks, your teachers will probably understand that you don’t know your way around the school and will be understanding regarding tardiness.

Homework is also something you really shouldn’t be worrying about. Yes, you will probably get more than you did in middle school, but the amount of work I got my freshman year was very manageable, and unless you procrastinate a lot, you can still go to bed at a very reasonable time.

Really, freshman year is designed to help you transition from one school to the next. It provides a great opportunity to make new friends, find your way around the school, pursue new interests, and develop the good study habits that will be so important in the years to come.

My biggest pieces of advice for the year ahead are to join as many activities as possible, and not to worry too much about fitting in. During my freshman year, I was worried that I would be labeled as a “nerd” for joining clubs, so I stayed away and regret that very much. The reality at PHS is, unlike middle school, just about everyone takes part in at least one extracurricular activity, and many participate in multiple. Clubs will try to get you to join while you’re a freshman, so don’t let this opportunity go to waste. Joining activities becomes much harder the longer you wait, and I often wish I had joined more during freshman year, as they provide a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests as yours, and offer a rewarding way to spend your free time.

So don’t worry too much about freshman year. I managed to survive it, and you can too.

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