From One Freshman to Another

For the past four years of my life I’ve become accustomed to the high school routine. I’ve learned the routes around the hallways, I’ve discovered which teachers to avoid, and I’ve found my niche in terms of what subject to pursue in college.

I remember the night before my freshman year of high school like it was yesterday because I was absolutely terrified. High school seemed like a daunting, scary stage in my life that I wasn’t necessarily ready for.

As an incoming college freshman, though, I am almost more excited than I am afraid. Maybe it’s because those four years of high school matured me, or maybe it’s just exciting to me now to experience the unknown, but I honestly can’t wait for this next stage of my life.

To the incoming high school freshmen out there: I remember how you feel. I know that you’re probably either scared or just absolutely dreading the idea of high school. But I am going to let you in on a little secret: high school is only terrible if you make yourself believe it is.

Here are some more secrets I’ll let you in on:

  • If you’re anything like me you will get lost in the confusing hallways on your first day. If that happens, don’t panic, just backtrack and try again. You will figure it out eventually, I promise.
  • The friends you have your freshman year might be strangers by your senior year, and that’s okay. High school is a place to grow and discover yourself, and sometimes that means people drift apart.
  • That being said, if one of your friends decides to not treat you like a friend please find the courage to stand up for yourself. And learn to walk away from a toxic situation. You will thank yourself in the end.
  • Don’t listen to upperclassmen when they tell you a class is easy. Teachers change lesson plans and teaching styles over the years, and every student is different. There were times in high school that I walked into a class thinking it would be a blowoff and it hurt me in the long run. Take every class seriously.
  • Claim your spot in the cafeteria during the first week. Everyone finds a place, and eventually you will all stick to it.
  • No matter how you act right now you will always go back and view freshman year as your “awkward stage.” Don’t be so caught up in trying to be cool that you lose sight of what makes you unique. I promise you will see photos when you’re a senior and say, “What was I thinking??” regardless. It happens to everyone.
  • Teachers are there to help you. Simply put, don’t be rude to them.
  • Go to at least one football game. If you hate it you never have to go again, but at least try it out. Friday night lights are special to so many people for a reason.
  • There will be nights that you will have a very long to-do list. If it seems too daunting, complete it in sections. Study for a test, then take a break, work on your paper, then take a break. You have time.
  • That being said, procrastination is the root of all heartache (that’s my personal motto), so try to give yourself a decent amount of time to complete your assignments. (I’m begging you, please figure this out. I don’t want anyone else to follow my footsteps and stay up until 4am writing a paper ever again. It’s quite possibly the worst thing ever).
  • Let your experiences influence you. You will learn so many life lessons in the next four years, and they will help shape you into the person you were created to become.
  • Be open to change and new challenges. You can’t let high school work its magic if you constantly hold yourself back. I dreaded taking a public speaking class my freshman year, but it ended up being one of the best classes I took in my entire high school career. (And by the end of senior year I gave a speech at graduation, so I think it benefited me in the long run)
  • Don’t worry so much about your future, especially when you get to be a senior, and forget about the beauty of right now. Too much time, especially during my early years in high school, was spent wishing it away, and I regret that now that it’s over. Take it in while you can.

High school really is what you make of it. Until I was a senior I truly didn’t realize how influential those years were in my life. I discovered my love of writing in high school. I made lifelong friends in high school. I experienced defeat, regret, and heartbreak in high school. Teachers became friends, the hallways became home, and by the time I was throwing my cap at graduation my class had become a family.

You might not think so now, my freshman friend, but the next four years of your life are going to guide you toward the beautiful life that has been written for you. When you’re finally on the other side like I am, you’ll understand. Everything, even the tough times, that you’re going to experience are going to impact you more than you know.

I’m rooting for you, and I’ll be here to let you know how college is in four years. 😉

By laurenstockam

Lauren is a graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.

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