Your freshman year of high school is all about trial and error. This is not the year to be thinking excessively about SAT/ACT testing, or college applications, though it’s totally acceptable to begin thinking about these things. Rather, your first year of high school should be a year of exploration. This is the year where you can get the hang of your new classes, explore your new campus, try out some new interests and get to know yourself better!

 

If you’ve found that you’re halfway through your first year of high school and still wondering what it is that you’re supposed to be doing, read these survival tips for more information on how to make your high school experience the best it could be.

 

In the classroom

Bond with teachers

In terms of academics, you should be taking the opportunity in your first year to build up relationships with your new teachers. After all, since starting high school you’ve probably been introduced to a whole new set of teachers. In your very first semester, you’ve probably learned quite a bit about their teaching styles and coursework expectations. Now, in the second semester, you should be thinking about how to build relationships with teachers that you like.

 

Try staying after school for extra help and asking questions during class to show your interest in the subject matter. Your relationships with your teachers are important in the long run. It’s very valuable to have a mentor in your high school years; and so the earlier you can do this, the better!

 

Do your homework

It should go without saying, but the work that you put in is what you’ll get out of your high school experience— so get in the habit of putting in the most effort that you can. (For more tips on managing your homework, take a look at Handling Your Homework—Time Saving Tips)

 

Devote at least 20 minutes per day (or maybe even more) to each subject. Review the information that you learned in class that day — you’ve be surprised at how much it will help you retain information! (Also, take a look at 10 Real World Study Tips to Improve Processing and Retention).

 

Re-evaluate your academic organization. This might mean making weekly to-do lists instead of daily ones, or it might even mean mapping out all of your deadlines and making a study plan for each class. Be sure to avoid using the infamous “everything folder”—organize your homework by subject rather than simply tossing everything into one huge accordion folder. Consider checking out these Eight Tips to Use Your Time Efficiently and Stay Organized in High School.

 

Finally, be sure to participate in class—participating will help you pay better attention, and it will also help you bond with your teachers! And take a look at this: 5 Ways to Actively Learn During Class.

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Outside the classroom

Be active in extracurriculars

Aside from academics, in your first year of high school you should try to find an extracurricular activity (or two)! Consider trying out a new sport, joining the chess club, or even trying your hand at theater. You never know what you might be good at.

 

Since you are still at an early point in your high school years, you have the advantage of being able to try tons of new things in order to figure out what you like, what you’re good at, or even what you’d like to be good at. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, because you may end up surprising yourself.

 

Be social

Also, be sure to attend your school’s social events like homecoming, prom, football games, etc. — these events are a great way to meet new people and make new friends, and they’re also a ton of fun.

 

Be sure to try out different social groups. Try branching out from your friends in middle school and approaching some new people. After all, you’re not the only new student there—everyone is new and hoping to make new friends. You should make at least one new friend in each class that you have—you never know where the connection will lead you!

 

Start thinking about college

Research Colleges

This isn’t the time to be studying for your SATs or filling out applications, rather, it’s a time to begin thinking about what you want out of your college experience. What kind of school are you hoping to apply to? STEM-based? Liberal arts? Are you excited at the idea of a large research-based University or a smaller college where you will receive more individualized attention? Do you want to go to school in an urban environment? A college town? A rural area? What areas of study excite you?

 

Set goals

Take this time in your freshman year of high school to start making some long-term goals—and think about how you will achieve them! For more tips on planning for college as a freshman, take a look at these blog posts:

 

Getting Ready to Apply to College: Freshman Year

Is Freshman Year Too Early to Start College Planning?

A Convenient College Planning Checklist for Freshman Year

 

Have fun

Finally, don’t forget to have fun in your freshman year. After all, this is a low-stakes time that will allow to try new things, meet new people and establish good habits. Make the best of it! In terms of your future, don’t be afraid to dream big—just remember to be rational about how you will achieve these dreams! Of course, you should always be making time for your hobbies, for social engagements, for family obligations and all the other unique ways that you choose to spend your time.

 

Final Thoughts

Your freshman year is the time to get a hold of your school’s academics, to establish good homework and study habits, and to build important relationships with your teachers. Don’t shy away from trying out new things, even if they are way out of your comfort zone! And don’t be afraid to make new friends either.

 

Lastly, remember to enjoy your time in high school — it will fly by. Soon, your freshman year will be over, and before you know it you’ll be putting on your robes and getting ready to walk at graduation!

 

For more freshman year tips, take a look at these blog posts:

Getting Ready to Apply to College: Freshman Year

How Important Is Freshman Year of High School?

Is Freshman Year Too Early to Start College Planning?

A Convenient College Planning Checklist for Freshman Year

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Devin Barricklow

Devin Barricklow

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Devin Barricklow is a Political Science and Creative Writing double major at Columbia University. She’s really excited to be able to share her expertise about the college process with students who need advice. When she isn’t writing for CollegeVine, she enjoys reading the poems of Mary Oliver, going to concerts in the city, or cooking (preferably something with lots of bok choy and ginger).
Devin Barricklow