The best advice for starting freshman year off strong

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Natalia Nervi

Every year, 350 Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School seniors go on to bigger and better things, while 350 fresh faces embark on the new adventure of high school. The transition from middle to high school is daunting. Unfortunately, some juniors and seniors end up kicking themselves, regretting things they did or did not do during their freshman year. In order to avoid this, here are some helpful tips, tricks as well as things to do and avoid in order to start high school off on the right foot and make the most of your four years. 
 
Join clubs and extracurriculars:
Freshman year is a great time to start joining clubs and extracurriculars. It is a great idea to find something that interests you or sounds like it might be something you enjoy. It is also a great way to meet people who have similar interests. One thing to consider when joining clubs is: do I have time to truly be committed to this activity? It isn’t a good idea to find yourself not giving everything the proper attention it requires. 
“Sometimes it is best to commit to one [club] and do well rather than run around so many activities,” freshman and AP English teacher Janette Birkett said. “Participation is key for clubs. Signing up and not showing up is just disappointing.” 
Only you can figure this part out yourself. It’s all about what you can handle, so make sure you are giving your 100 percent to the commitments you make!
 
Go in for extra help:
If you ever find yourself falling behind in a class or not understanding what’s going on during the lesson, it is in your best interest to go either before or after school to seek help from your teacher. You would need to consult your teacher to set up a time. If you are confused in a class, don’t wait until the day of the test to seek help. Going straight to your teacher with questions is definitely the best way to make sure you know what you’re doing in your classes. 
“Remember that your teachers are allies,” Birkett said. “Being proactive is better than reactive. Always ask for help. We are happy to help. Being proactive is a much better position to be in than doing damage control.” 
 
Balance schoolwork and extracurriculars: 
Another part of getting used to the transition from middle to high school is the workload. Sometimes you will find yourself swamped with work Monday through Friday or even weekends. While it may seem intimidating and unmanageable at first, with time and practice you will figure out what works best for you.
Junior Ryann Wall agrees that time management is a very important skill. 
“As a freshman, I wish I knew time management would be one of the most important things I would need to learn,” Wall said. 
One good thing you should get into the habit of is keeping an agenda to write down daily homework. It can be easy to forget exactly what homework there is any every single class and making sure it is at least written down takes the stress away from having to remember what is due and when. In addition to this, as annoying as it may seem, avoiding distractions such as your phone when doing homework can help save lots of time. Set limits on phone usage and set rewards for yourself for completing tasks. 
 
Other helpful tips:
Freshman year is the foundation of your high school career, so make sure that you are trying your hardest in all of your classes. Don’t slack just because you think freshman year won’t matter in the long run. 
“My advice would be to just try and get the best grades you can this year because, as you get older, it’s much harder to fix the bad grades you earned in the past and it impacts your GPA more than you might realize,” Wall said. Senior Gabby Ramos agrees.
“I wish I would have taken classes a bit more seriously freshman and sophomore year, knowing that junior and senior year are the only other years you have to make up for it,” Ramos said.
Although the beginning of high school can seem scary, it is important to not only focus on doing well in school but the social aspect it as well. Don’t panic if you don’t know anyone in your classes — use it as an opportunity to make new friends! More often than not, your classmates are in the same situation that you are. 
It is also good to keep in mind how fast high school goes by, try to enjoy it while it lasts. 
“I’d heard a lot of other seniors tell me this when I was younger, but high school goes by really really fast… and as a freshman, you’re not thinking about the big picture. Then suddenly you’re a senior, and it all happened so fast,” Ramos said. “Be nice to everyone and don’t be afraid to ask seniors or older students for advice!”