Surviving WA: Freshman advice from a senior


Sophia Keang

WA welcomes the incoming class of 2027 and the Ghostwriter has some tips for success in the halls of WA.

Sophia Keang, Editor-in-Chief

Transitioning from middle school to high school can be a nerve-wracking time for many students. However, while most students are anxious and overwhelmed about the responsibilities that lie ahead, this new phase in one’s life is also filled with adventure and excitement for what the future holds. Now don’t get me wrong. As a senior, I can definitely attest that high school has its highs and lows, but that’s life. So if you are an incoming freshman, here are my seven tips (in no particular order) to surviving the halls of Westford Academy: 

1. Don’t procrastinate

You’ve heard this in middle school and you’ll hear it all the time in WA – don’t procrastinate. No matter what type of classes you take – CP, Honors, or AP classes – try your best to never push off work, especially studying for tests. It can definitely feel overwhelming as a freshman if you are taking challenging courses because the workload does increase the older you get, but managing your time is the key to success. This is much easier said than done, but you will thank yourself later by establishing this habit now as a freshman rather than becoming a procrastinator throughout high school and messing up your sleep schedule. 

2. Get involved 

Another big tip I have for you incoming freshmen is to get involved. WA is a school that offers a multitude of clubs and activities for all students to participate in. From DECA, a pre-professional extracurricular, to knitting club, a relaxing activity, there is a student organization for everyone. If you want to play a sport, just go to tryouts for the volleyball team, the swim and dive team, or any other sport that WA offers. You have so many opportunities to be a part of a community outside of your classes here at WA, so why not take advantage of it? I’d recommend bringing along a friend if you’re nervous about joining by yourself, but going alone can help force you to branch out of your friend clique. 

3. Avoid the freshman backpack

Take it from me and avoid the freshman backpack. More often than not, freshmen tend to bring unnecessary supplies to school that they will never use because their classes don’t require it. Things like colored pencils and markers are supplies you should avoid if you can – unless you’re an artist, of course – because from my personal experience, whenever I needed to color in class, my teachers have always provided the supplies for me.

Typically, on the first day of school I’ll bring a notebook, folder, pens or pencils, and my Chromebook in my backpack. I’d hold off from buying the bulky binders or seven one-subject notebooks until after the first day or week of school. You don’t want to develop arthritis as a 13-year-old because you carried one too many notebooks that you never use. Lastly, avoid rolling backpacks, unless you are physically unable to carry a backpack for some reason. Rolling backpacks are bulky, inconvenient, and impractical. You’ll be going up and down the stairs constantly throughout the day. You won’t be carrying your backpack 24/7, but when you are, you don’t want to be in physical pain. Here are the necessities I keep in my backpack for reference:

  • Chromebook/Laptop (make sure your device always has enough battery to last you the whole day – there are charging stations around the school if you forget, so don’t fret)
  • Notebooks (I only bring them for the classes I have that day)
  • Multi-Pocket Folder (Literal lifesaver! Everything is in one place and no need to buy an individual folder that takes up more space in my backpack)
  • Pencil Case (includes pens, pencils, a highlighter, an eraser, and a calculator)
  • Water bottle (Staying hydrated is a must)
  • Airpods/Earbuds (listening to music whenever you have some study time or a free block throughout the day is such a nice break)
  • Phone (Not entirely necessary but is very convenient if you need to send a quick text to your mom to bring the homework you forgot at home)
  • Reading Books (any books you need for English class)

4. Take academics seriously

This is high school and when people say that your grades matter now, they’re kind of right. I hate to admit it but your freshman year GPA (Grade Point Average) will provide a sense of what your GPA will be when you start applying to college (if that’s your plan). As a senior, I would probably tell myself to take my classes and grades more seriously because it does help during the college admissions process. However, getting good grades in your classes should never be your personality. There’s nothing wrong being proud about your grades, but you need to realize these numbers don’t define who you are.

5. Prioritize mental health

With that being said, ALWAYS prioritize your mental health. Whether that be going to sleep and asking for an extension for an assignment, or finding a hobby that allows you to destress. For me, I’d destress by going to the gym. Since I’m sitting at a desk for basically seven hours everyday, I try my best to maximize my time for being active. For you, this could be reading, spending time with friends, or even knitting, whatever you find that works best.

6. Don’t compare yourself to others

With a competitive academic environment that seems prevalent in WA, it’s much easier said than done to not compare yourself to your peers. Whether this be in an academic standpoint or something deeper than that, it’s clear that many WA students prioritize their academics over so many other things. While your grades are important and do matter, you should never compare yourself to others’ successes. Oftentimes, this can lead to jealousy and a toxic environment for students, causing stress.

Every student has their own story and comes from different backgrounds. As someone who had to work every week all throughout high school and manage school work and extracurriculars on top of that, it was hard for me to see others earn higher grades than me. But it wasn’t because I wasn’t working hard or not smart enough, it was because I had different priorities and was simply unable to spend 10+ hours studying each night.

7. School is not your life

Finally, school is not your life and honestly, should not be the best years of your life. Yes, going to football games, homecoming, and prom is something you should be excited for, but you also have college (if you choose to), traveling, and meeting new people outside of Westford to look forward to. Don’t spend too much time worrying about your grades, but also don’t spend too much time slacking off and fooling around with your friends when you should be studying or doing your homework. High school is a time and place where you figure out who you are, and your personality should not revolve around school. School is simply a place to learn about yourself so you can grow as an individual. 

Overall, good luck to all you incoming freshmen. You all have the ability to do great things and just know high school does not determine the success you have in your life. Ultimately, you will find your path and one day you’ll be the senior giving advice to the incoming freshmen.