The Freshman 50 Jr.
I was quickly scrolling through the submissions from the survey I placed on my blog the other day. I was surprised, and a little excited, to see so many girls under the age of 18 reading College Prep.
Then I started thinking about high school… and The Freshman 50. If I could go back in time to August of 2004 and do things differently, would I? No. But would I like to tell myself a few things before I journeyed through the halls of HB Plant? Most definitely.
I’ve created a brief, but comprehensive, list of things I wish I knew before high school. We’ll call it The Freshman 50 Jr. If you’re out of high school, feel free to share your own advice in a comment!!!
1. Popularity is relative.
Hang out with people that you feel comfortable being around. Surround yourself with other students who share similar beliefs and morals. At the same time, though, don’t exclude anyone. If a girl is trying to be your friend, give her a chance. She respects you and is reaching out. You may not be “the popular” bouncy, big hair, and white teeth girl out of the movies. But being respectful to your classmates, getting to know different girls, and having a genuinely nice personality can make you well liked by all.
2. The grass is not always greener.
So you wish you were the popular, bouncy, big hair, and white teeth girl that you watch from a distance in the cafeteria? Well, she may feel insecure, compromise her beliefs, and be struggling with family issues. Just because someone seems perfect, it does not mean that they don’t have similar problems. Don’t shed your skin so much that you lose yourself in the process.
3. Practice studying, even if you don’t have to.
I’ll admit that I never really had to study throughout high school (well, except for calculus junior year). Reading through my notes on the walk to class before a test does not count as studying. It may be easy to do the bare minimum (you are still a straight A student after all), but it will pay off tremendously if you learn to study now. Classes in college will require studying and not having to spend time picking up study habits will give you an edge.
Also, I’d like to point out, that actually remembering stuff from your high school classes will give you a great foundation to build your college studies on.
4. The “C” word.
This should be a completely personal experience and process for you. My advice is to not broadcast where you are applying. The second a friend or parent finds out you’re a senior, he will be inclined to ask, “Where are you applying!?!” He is just curious and trying to be friendly, but you are by no means required to rattle off the list of schools that you are hoping to be accepted to. In fact, it is really awkward when everyone knows where you applied, and you don’t get in.
5. It’s okay to grow apart from some friends.
You might have been best friends with the same group of girls since middle or elementary school. Entering high school as a fourteen-ish year old, it’s great to have this group of girls to hang out with. By the time you leave high school, though, you’re eighteen. During high school, you will grow up significantly… and so will your friends. This may mean that you grow closer, but it can also mean that you find yourself at a crossroads.
Try to stay close with your long friends, but don’t be afraid to move on. Especially if a friend has picked up bad habits or a rude attitude it may be imperative that you separate yourself from her.
6. Do something you love, but don’t do everything.
Never start an activity with, “It will look great on a résumé!” Freeze. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Volunteering is important, but spending twenty minutes at a soup kitchen unhappily doesn’t cut it. My sister took her love and passion for soccer and volunteered as a referee for a special needs soccer league. Volunteering was not a chore for her, she loved going every Saturday afternoon!
You make think that being the copy editor of the newspaper, president of a service club, founder of the Science & Technology club, captain of the soccer team, soloist in the choir, and a student counsel representative may be your ticket to college. But you’re oh so wrong. Being over-involved is bad. How can you possibly be devoted and productive to each one of those activities? College admissions see right through that.
Focus instead on two or three activities that you are really passionate about. Passion is something that will shine on a résumé. Instead of listing all those activities that you show up to one meeting a year, being able to show a long list of accomplishments in three activities is much more impressive.
7. Find your swing.
Swing is your rhythm. How you work. What makes you tick. Why you do what you do. Who you associate with. Where you spend your time.
Figure out what works for you during high school, as that will help you better adjust to college. Do you eat six small meals or three large ones? Are you a morning person? Do you work well under stress? How are your organizational habits?
Work out the kinks now, and you will be able to replicate your swing faster and more productively later when you enroll in college.
8. Visit teachers from middle school.
Once or twice during your high school career, go back to your middle school. First, take note at how young the kids seem now. You thought you were so old in sixth grade, right??? Use this as a reminder that you’ll think the same way about high school later!
Second, go back and thank your middle school teachers for helping you prepare for high school. Remember those ridiculously difficult independent study essays you had to write in language arts? Now they seem like a piece of cake, but they made you a better student. Your middle school teachers also want to see you. You were an awkward, knobby kneed, braces clad girl and now you’re really maturing. Let them know how much you appreciated everything they did for you back then!
9. Read everything, except for Sparknotes.
Sparknotes is so easy and tempting. Avoid the blue book of summaries at all costs. First of all, teachers can see right through it when you use the exact same motifs mentioned in Sparknotes in your paper. Beyond that though, your teachers assign you classics for a reason. Read them now!!!
10. You have nothing to gain, but everything to lose.
This applies to drinking and partying. High school drinking typically takes place in someone’s sketchy basement. Cars are involved and it’s just dumb and dangerous. Think you’re being cool? Yea, not so much. It’s not so cool when you get caught tipsy at a high school dance and suspended. And college admission officers don’t find it very cool at all either.
Bottom line: NOT WORTH IT.
11. It’s totally fine to go stag.
Sure, it would be fabulous for a cute boy to ask you to prom in the perfect way. But it’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t. Getting your makeup done, dressing in the perfect gown, and dancing all night with your girlfriends is just as memorable!
12. Take the difficult courses.
Sign up for the AP class. Take a difficult course load during your second semester senior year. Push yourself. AP Calculus seems daunting, but you will come out the other end a better student. Do what you think can’t be done. If the class turns out to be over your head, meet with a tutor, form study groups, and ask the teacher for extra help.
13. Get to know your teachers really well.
Your teachers end up being the best resources. I can go to my high school at any given time and run into a teacher that I had a great bond with and talk and catch up for hours.
I found that there was also a lot of bureaucratic red tape in the halls of high school. Having a team of teachers on your side helps greatly. Teachers are also a great alternative to parents. Sometimes there are things you just can’t talk to with your friends or even your parents. Having a trusting teacher to turn to can help in a difficult time.
14. Stand up for what you believe in.
It’s way too easy to get swooped into groupthink. It’s way too easy to stand by and watch someone make a big mistake. It’s way too easy to stand by your morals.
It’s not easy at all to stand up for what you believe in. High schoolers can be cruel, but standing up for what you think is important for personal growth. Don’t let the opinions of others get in the way of your moral compass.
15. Embrace who you are.
You like to read? Be the nerd. You like the sing? Be the chorus groupie. You like to dress in wacky outfits? Be the eccentric one.
Being the same as everyone else is boring. And trying to be someone you’re not is tiresome. Being yourself will lead you to happiness and allow you to find friends who have similar tastes and interests.
Don’t be afraid to just be YOU.
16. Don’t worry about clothes too much…
Your mom is doing you a favor by not letting you buy those jeans. Trust me. Have you ever found pictures of your mom and dad from their high school days? I look at them and think, “Why on earth would you wear that?” High school kids place this huge emphasis on what to wear, and I just really don’t think it’s about that at all. If I were in charge of the world (one day…. One day…) I would implement uniforms for high school.
17. Less is more. Makeup.
Again, your mom is right. You do need to wash your face. Take care of your skin and go light on the makeup. It’s kind of like shaving your legs: once you start, it’s hard to stop. Ask your mom or an older sister to take you to a makeup counter. Learn how to apply an appropriate base of makeup. Nothing over the top.
18. It’s true: Gossip happens, but has a short life.
It is inevitable. One little rumor seems to spread through the hallways like wildfire. Hiding under the covers and playing sick seems like the only option. No rumors, in my experience, last more than two days. Every piece of gossip is always replaced by another. Don’t hide if one is started about you. It will all pass before you know it. (And don’t forget, a rumor is really just a rumor!)
19. Compete… respectfully.
Pushing your peers is a good thing. Having your peers push you is a good thing. Everyone benefits from a little friendly competition.
Stabbing friends in the back, deceiving and lying to your friends, and being absolutely ruthless helps no one.
20. Don’t rush to grow up!
What do you think?
Agree? Disagree? Want to add anything? Personal stories?