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Advice for High School Freshmen from Departing Seniors

A high school senior gives advice to freshmen

Let your students hear from the seniors who've been there and done that.

After hearing "I wish I'd known this when I was a freshman!" countless times by the end of the school year, my senior class decided they wanted to leave behind some real advice for high school freshmen. Here are some of the great insights they shared.

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Get a Planner

If I didn't have a planner, I would have never made it through high school. I had a hard copy planner, and physically writing down my events and assignments helped me to stay organized. I could see everything I needed to do. I think it also makes a good impression when you're talking to people and you pull out a planner. —Samantha, headed to Centre College
Further reading: Teachers and Sleep 

Understand Procrastination

Don't deny that you are going to procrastinate. Procrastination is a part of the high school experience. However, with good friends, a good support network, and a good head on your shoulders, you can turn procrastination into action. The pressure you put on yourself will mirror the pressure you'll experience in college and at work, and that will help you deal with high-stress situations in the future. —Scott, headed to Boston College

Keep It Real

Be realistic about your future decisions. If you want to head to a top college, you need to start thinking and working for that immediately. And while that includes getting good grades, it's not just about grades. You also have to be involved and take leadership positions because at the end of the day, that's what makes you stand out. —Alondra, headed to University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Stay Focused

My advice for high school freshmen would be to keep your focus on the future—especially if you feel like your high school might not be the best experience, the way I did. I had a hard time making friends, and I now realize you aren't in high school to make friends; you're there to begin making a name for yourself. Drama and problems with other students are so common, and although it's way easier said than done, you have to ignore it. If you have one or two friends, well, that's way better than a whole group you can't relate to. To this day, I look at lowerclassmen oddly because so many of them care about "getting lit" and going to parties. I want to tell them, "Hey! That's not important." Lastly, understand the social hierarchy of high school is absolutely wrong. Right now, it's "Who's cool?" and things like that, but, in the end, the hierarchy that matters is your class rank. It's so crucial that you stay high up in that ranking if you plan on going to college. —Tahj, taking a gap year to work

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Try classes and programs that you might not normally be interested in. I took AP Calculus for two years, and math is not my thing, but I learned so much from the experience. I learned that I might not be good at math, but I am a hard worker, and I passed the class and actually got a 4 on the exam. —Gianni, headed to Hamilton College

Make Yourself at Home

When getting to understand the importance of high school or trying to get comfortable with yourself and classes, don't be afraid to open yourself up to new classes or establish relationships with your teachers. Getting familiarized with how high school works or why it matters to you can be overwhelming. Take a step back and see the environment of high school in a different perspective, and then think of ways it can fit with your interests and future goals. Surround yourself with supportive people who can help guide you with comfort and advice. —Domenic, headed to community college

Get Involved

Join clubs in which you have a common interest and shared values with other students. Don't be afraid. Don't think people are better than you. Don't be afraid to talk to people and develop friendships. —Ralph, headed to Bucknell University

Make Useful Connections

Reach out to people for mentoring and for internships. I learned that people want to help teenagers by providing opportunities for them. You just have to ask. —Vincenzo, headed to Babson College

Work Hard

When I was in 8th grade, a friend from the high school told me I would absolutely need to work hard from the minute I entered high school. I listened. So many of my friends fell behind freshmen year because it was so different from middle school. But I was ready because I got that advice, and I worked hard from day one. So listen to me, and you'll be all set. —Edi, headed to Holy Cross College

Be Present

My advice for high school freshmen is to be present and live in the moment. Before you know it, high school's over, and you can't go back. There are no do-overs. Live during your high school years so you have no regrets. —Riad, undecided
Further reading: Make Going Back to High School Fun and Engaging

These are great tips for incoming high schoolers. Do your experienced students have anything else to add? Let us know in the comments!