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How to Make the Most of Freshman Year

 You’re a freshman now, and freshman year is about breaking ground. While you’re adjusting and exploring new opportunities, your academic life is being recorded on your official transcript that one day will be sent to colleges. As a result, strategic planning should increasingly become a significant part of your daily routine. Managing your time becomes essential as preparing for tests, papers, and in-class projects becomes an exciting challenge. School becomes busy with responsibility and new possibilities, so prepare yourself for a fun and productive high school experience. 

 Take advantage of new opportunities and you will grow to recognize your strengths, interests, and passions along the way. Open yourself to academic endeavors, excel, and begin shaping your life—class by class, year by year. Practice making one good decision after another and you will find that you have created dynamic college options for yourself. Think about incorporating key building blocks into your freshman year experience. 

 Planning Ahead 

 Carefully plan your course schedule from the beginning. Think about how your course load will unfold over four years and begin creating a map for setting and accomplishing your goals. Seek advice and consider teacher feedback when you choose your classes. Grades are important in ninth grade, but rigor is key, so don’t just go for easy A’s. There’s no way to overemphasize the importance of good planning. 

 Accepting Help 

 Ask for help when you run into trouble. If you earn a low grade, accept it as constructive criticism. Carefully read (or listen) to your teacher’s comments and figure out how to select and apply good advice. 

Getting Involved 

 In addition to academics, develop talents and interests outside the classroom. Times of change, such as the beginning of high school, are often the best times to try something new. Use your freshmen year to join the debate team, take up a new sport, explore theater (on-stage or behind the curtain as stage crew), rally for the recycling club, or create a unique cultural event. You will find school is more fun when you are involved, and, your perk may be that your preferred activity is just the detail that catches a college’s eye. 

Identifying Your Friends 

 Put yourself out there. Find people who share your interests and even challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort zone. Your peer group is important, so choose yours wisely. 

 Reading Voraciously 

 Whether books, newspapers, magazines, or blogs, choose what engages you and remember to look up unfamiliar words. Additionally, check out TEDtalks, YouTube videos, MOOCs, or micro-videos to stay up-to-date on subjects you find interesting. Read constantly and talk with your friends about information that is particularly interesting to you. 

 Finding Mentors 

 You may be successful working on your own, but great success often involves the support of others. Let people in, especially your teachers. Meet upperclass students and ask them for advice since they have already lived through the first year. 

 Creating Balance 

 It is easy to stay busy, so remembering to schedule downtime is key to staying fresh and productive. Strike a balance, and remember the importance of time with family and friends, not to mention keeping some space for yourself. 

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