Freshman Year: Spring 2022 Remix

Freshmen year, spring 2022. Ah, it must feel great to spend your freshman year in your high school’s classrooms and hallways, at club meetings and chorus practice, and on the basketball courts and soccer fields instead of on Zoom in your bedroom or closet. The safety practices of masking and distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly changed the nature of school for a couple of years, but you can now take the teen out of … quarantine (quaran-teen, like a good pun?) and go to school in person … with people!

It’s a great step forward that you’re sitting in English class with your friends and experiencing remote learning in past tense. Now, though, it’s already (or finally?) March — a great time to pop your head up from the daily routine, do a quick review of what is happening around you, take stock of what is and isn’t yet working for you at school, and start thinking about mixing things up a little. Spring is indeed a great time to turn over a new leaf. (Ha, here’s another pun!)

Expand your routine, even if 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 and receiving a powerful surge of energy during this time is natural because warm breezes and cherry blossoms can help shake off the doldrums of the cold winter months and lead to a burst of fresh ideas. Let the energetic beginnings of spring and round two of freshman year begin!

(BTW, there is a real college essay question that asks, “What do you know to be true?” White boards are re-markable? For me, what I know to be true is that when folks say, “no pun intended,” they are usually not being entirely truthful. Oh, it is so human to be amused by a pun.)

Here are a few ways to shake things up this spring:

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 that you are learning in class if you discuss it at home and with friends, because simply talking about the material that you are studying will expand your perspective and deepen your knowledge of the subject.

You can also create additional opportunities for others — family, friends, and classmates — to talk about what they know on those subjects so that you can expand your horizons beyond the classroom, learn more about the people you care about, and share your own thoughts on those subjects before bringing them up in class. Before long, it will become natural for you to engage with your coursework both inside 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 communicating with friends in a variety of ways

School is much more fun when you get involved! Clubs, sports, volunteering, and student government all offer ways for you to spend time with and keep in contact with your friends and classmates. But yes, even with all of those options, it can certainly take a while — maybe even all of freshmen year — to find a small close group of friends.

The important thought to keep in mind, though, is to stay active. You can always find ways keep in touch with your current friends and, maybe even join clubs at school together to find new ones! Be proactive. Connect and stay in touch as you create new opportunities to meet other people. After all, these are things that you will continue to do for many years to come, so you might as well develop these skills now.

Get involved and deepen your engagement

Are you enjoying the greater independence of high school? Stretch yourself beyond the classes you’re currently in to find interesting teachers and adult leaders in your school. 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 when the opportunity arises. Widening your circle of supportive adults now will create opportunities for you later in high school and as you begin the college admissions process. 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.

There’s a great deal of truth in the old adage that you get as much back as what you put into something, and this isn’t the time to hold back. This is the time to assert yourself, reach out, and enjoy the rewards of engaging with interesting ideas, people, and activities. Find new (safe) ways to connect and study. This spring is the time to stretch, leap, grow! And, I will be here, rooting for you the whole time!

Originally posted February 25, 2021