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Freshman Year: Remix

Now that you have your high school routine down, you can loosen up a bit and take stock of your surroundings. Hopefully, you’ve got good classes and a great new friend group, and perhaps you’ve found your afternoons busy with interesting activities after the final bell rings.

Sounds like a great start to high school, right? Now, though, it’s March—a great time to pop your head up from the daily routine and do a quick review of what is happening, and to start thinking about mixing it up a little. You have been putting the high school pieces together since September, so you are in good shape for a slight change here or there. Expand your routine just a little bit and watch life become that much more interesting.

The mere thought that spring will arrive soon has the power to inspire. Receiving a power surge of energy during this time is natural, as warm breezes and cherry blossoms can help shake off the cold and brainstorm fresh ideas for spring. Let the energetic beginnings—and round two—of freshman year begin. Here are a few ways to shake things up:

Expand the way you interact with classroom material

Ask yourself if you are taking the time to join class discussions and talk about your ideas. You’ll get more out of the material if you discuss at home and with friends what you are learning in class, because simply talking about the material that you are studying will expand your perspective and deepen your knowledge on the subject. Create opportunities for other folks—family, friends, and classmates—to talk about what they know so you can feel free to share your own thoughts. Before long, it will be natural for you to engage with your coursework both in and outside of the classroom. Remember that talking about what you know exercises your curiosity, clarifies your thoughts, and encourages new and original views on a subject. Don’t hold back: ask questions, investigate, and try your own independent ideas on for size.

Be open to meeting people even while you are developing a close circle of friends

 School is much more fun when you are involved! Making good friends is very much a part of your school life. How has it gone so far? Were you able to find a friend group and choose a few activities that you share with them? Was it a new sport, theater (either on-stage or behind the curtain as stage crew), debate or, say, the recycling club where you hit the jackpot on making friends? If you still need to do a bit of tweaking on this front, know that you are not alone. Yes, it can take a full round—all of freshmen year—to find a small close group of friends. The important thought to keep in mind is to stay active. You have to be among people to find the right group of friends. Sometimes it takes meeting many kids before you find the few who share your interests and values. See if you can become comfortable and even excited by meeting new people. After all, this is something you will continue to do for many years to come.

Get involved and deepen your engagement

Are you enjoying the greater independence of high school? Stretch yourself to find interesting teachers and adult leaders in your schools. Teaming up with faculty is a great way to get involved in your school community and learn how one becomes a leader. Volunteer to take on added responsibility for events or clubs. Widening your circle of supportive adults will create opportunities for you in the future. Learning, growing, making friends, talking about your ideas, and expanding your role in your community are all super ways to march on and enjoy your high school experience.

The old adage that you get as much back as what you put into something holds a lot of truth. This isn’t the time to hold back. This is the time to stretch yourself, reach out, and enjoy the rewards of engaging with interesting ideas, people, and activities. Set a goal to do what you can to further enrich your freshman year. It will only bring you greater rewards for this year and those that follow.

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