How to Succeed Your Freshman Year of High School

Your first year of high school sets the foundation for the rest. You need to plan ahead and prepare for it to ensure the best experience.

Get in shape

If you’ve been sleeping late and sitting around the house all summer, now is the time to begin getting into shape for the school year. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you are in good physical condition and at your best weight.

You also need to get on a schedule. Begin setting the alarm clock back by 15-minute increments until you’re getting up on time to get ready for school.

Meet with the school counselor as early as possible

The counselor can help you sort out what you want to do after high school. This will help you plan the year’s activities and get off to a good start. It isn’t too early to begin preparing if you want to attend college or vocational school after you graduate. Admissions boards consider grades, the courses you take, and your extracurricular activities.

You don’t have to make a solid decision yet on these issues. You will probably change course at least once as you learn more and gather some experience. Just begin to get an idea of where you would like to go and why.

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Set goals for yourself

Once you have an idea about kind of career you want, set some goals for this year. Your grades will be part of your permanent record from here on in, so begin there. Be realistic. If you’ve been a “C” student with reasonable effort, don’t aim at straight “A’s” with college prep courses.

Jump into social life, either in a club or with sports or music

You’re building memories and friendships this year that will see you through to graduation and beyond. Join a group that interests you, and enjoy participating.

Get a summer job or internship

Start looking for a summer job at least a month before the end of the school year. Waiting until school gets out will almost guarantee that you’ll end up either with no job or with one you don’t like very much.

If you can get an internship in your chosen career, so much the better.

Don’t over schedule

You know fairly well by now what kind of class load is right for you, and how much time you’ll have available for other things. Don’t schedule so much that you have to let yourself down or break your promises.

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Manage your time well

Keep a small calendar with you to write down assignments and due dates when you get them.

  • Create a “to do” list for each day to make sure you don’t forget an assignment.
  • Use your spare time wisely, perhaps reading an assignment on the bus on the way home.
  • Start your homework as soon as you get home, and check things off your list as you go along. Tackle your toughest subjects and assignments first so you have plenty of time and energy to concentrate on them.

If you have trouble concentrating on what you read, take brief, well organized notes to help you focus.

  1. Use a timer set for 15-20 minutes and study for that long.
  2. Then take a 5 minute break, walk around, get a drink, stretch or do a few quick exercises.
  3. Set the timer for another 15-20 minutes.
  4. Don’t turn on the tv or video games.
  5. If someone calls just say you’re busy and will call back later. Better yet, don’t answer. You can always return the call.

If possible, study with friends who have similar interests, and discuss topics with them. A good debate will get you thinking more actively on what you are studying. If this tends to deteriorate into social hour, find another study group.

Study for tests as you go along

Read the assignments, and take notes in class whether you think you need to or not.

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The same day, rewrite your notes. This will help you organize your thoughts and learn the material more thoroughly. Then review your notes every day. This won’t take a lot of time but will help you remember what you have studied.

If you “over learn” as you go along, tests will be much easier.

Take some time off

Figure out how much free time you will have each week, and plan something fun and relaxing to do. This will help you avoid burnout.

  • Don’t just watch TV or play video games.
  • Go out, dance, participate in sports or music, learn a new art skill.
  • Do something completely different from what you do in school.

This will help you reduce stress and stay healthy.

Planning ahead and preparing for your first year of high school will help you stay on top of things and have an enjoyable and successful year.