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6 Tips for Freshmen

John Vassiliou, Editor

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So, you all made it through middle school. The most awkward and uncomfortable part of your life is over. Congratulations!

I remember the day I graduated middle school and how awesome I felt. The first thing that really popped into my head was the fact that the next year I was going to be a high-schooler. However, as the days got shorter and shorter, and the summer wind blew off, I began to grow more and more nervous about my first day back. Would I get lost? Would everyone be bigger then me? Would I even know anyone in my class? Would the upperclassmen shove me in a locker? (Alright, that last one might have been exaggerating — the folks here are generally pretty nice; even if they were allowed to, they wouldn’t stuff you in a locker.)

I know quite a few of you guys have had the same feelings, or if not, something close to it. But I’m here to put your mind at ease. Everything will feel normal in about two weeks time. You’ll learn where the halls lead, the fastest way to get to your next class, and just how much you really have to take with you to each block (it’s called the “freshman backpack” for a reason.)

But there will be some lasting things that you ought to understand now, because it will do leaps for you down the way. You may be indecisive right now and not be sure about how to handle things going forward. But I have 20/20 hindsight, so how about I save you all of the trouble of learning the hard way and fill you in on all of the important stuff right now?

1. Don’t procrastinate:

This will by far be your biggest challenge going forward. I’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff in my time here when it comes to slacking off with work (some of which I’m guilty of as well). I once knew a kid who didn’t read his summer reading and was literally looking at the back of the book to understand the plot of it as the teacher was beginning the class discussion. It is best to stamp that attitude out right out of the gate. Work in high school is more labor-intensive than in middle school. You will be expected to put your honest effort into every bit of work you get, and that’s something no self-respecting person can cram in a night or during lunch. The best example I have for you will be the project you will have to do for history. You’ll all be given a topic and have to write a paper about it. This is not something you can cram in a night or even a week, you must learn how to pace yourself. Giving yourself time is a great way to lower your stress and feel more confident about your work. Putting things off leaves you no room for error, so start a good habit now. My suggestion is doing homework as soon as you get home, and pacing yourself with projects.

2. Treat teachers with respect:

Teachers are here to educate you. This is their job, so make it easier on them. They have to grade your papers, put together lessons, and deal with all of the dumb crap that is hurled their way, the last thing they want to do is deal with a kid in their class that is acting up or sneaking a phone or a vape. If a teacher asks you to do something, just do it. Don’t talk back, don’t question it. Just do it. If you don’t like your teacher, you’ll get a new one next year, but at the end of the day, everyone’s lives flow a lot easier if you just follow the rules and don’t put up any resistance. If you think a teacher is teaching something wrong or if you think they are wrong about something, just talk to them about it politely after class. I hate the “treat others the way you want to be treated” cliche, but it’s the truth in this case.

3. Try new things:

This is something you’ll regret doing if you don’t now. Let’s be honest here, if you don’t try something now, you’ll probably not get another chance at it in life. College isn’t the time to try a sport or club for the first time. Find something that interests you, something that you think you may enjoy, and give it a try. Worst case scenario, you just don’t follow up next year (if you choose a sport especially at least try and stick with it for the rest of the year). You should be sure to manage your time well, and make sure that it doesn’t clash with any other commitments. Time is precious, so make sure that you leave yourself enough to get schoolwork banged out, and maybe an hour or two for downtime at the end of the day.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra help:

My advice to you is when you have that awkward moment in class where the teacher asks “any questions” and no one responds. Be the person who asks the question. The more questions you ask, the more likely you’ll remember something. There aren’t many stupid questions as long as you’re on topic. That voice in the back of your head that says “shut up and just let the class go on” is the school equivalent of the devil on your shoulder. No one cares if you ask a question — you’re not disturbing the class or the flow of the lesson, and if someone says otherwise, they’re full of bull.

5. Understand self-reliance:

I know I’m screwed in a class when the teacher says that if I miss something I should get it from a friend. A good ethic to live by is to assume that you need to take care of yourself in every aspect, don’t expect anything from anyone else, and be able to pull yourself up by your own laces. I’m not saying your friends can’t be trustworthy or helpful, I’m just saying that relying on solely them is going to lead to some unnecessary problems for you later on. Always be on your toes, and able to get things down and done by yourself, your all becoming young adults now so its time to start living up to that title.

6. These years matter:

This will be by far the most difficult and painful concept to grasp for a lot of you. Everything before high schools hasn’t had much of a stake to it, to be frank with you. Those ceremonies of “academic achievement” that you all got last year mean next to nothing on the road you’re about to merge onto. You will learn that things like GPA and honors matter a lot. The habits you develop now will stick with you for the rest of your life, and these will be the years you look back on and wished you had applied yourself more too. But you have a golden opportunity, so don’t waste it. Save yourself the stressful nights, the hasty catch-up work, and most importantly your future ambitions, by putting in the effort now. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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About the Writer
John Vassiliou, Editor

My name is John Vassiliou, I live in Westford and I am a Junior at Westford Academy. I like studying history, reading, writing and spending time with my family. I like keeping things about myself short, so i’ll have that be it about me.

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