Congratulations! You’ve graduated middle school, and are now about to enter high school! Isn’t that exciting?
Entering high school can be a little nerve wracking, though. You’re about to be exposed to a different campus, different teachers, and a new environment as a whole. But don’t worry, high school is not as scary as it seems.
If you build the right habits from the very start, you can easily survive and thrive in high school. And if you’re reading this post, you’re already one step ahead of the others!
In this post, I’ll share 8 tips that will help you maximize your first week of high school. These are the things I wish someone had told me, so make sure to read until the very end and share it with others!
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Start preparing early
It’s tempting to put off preparing for school until the last 2 days, but by then, it’s a little too late! Remember, there are quite a few steps you need to take before the first day of high school.
Attend your school’s freshman orientation! Most high schools host this orientation, where upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) guide the incoming freshmen (you!) through the school, showing you where the buildings and classrooms are.
Freshman orientation is a great time to get to know your campus, ask about specific classes, good or bad teachers, and general advice. Don’t be scared to talk to the upperclassmen, either; they’re there to help!
Next, get your school supplies early. There tends to be a rush at Walmart and Target during back-to-school season, and the last thing you want to do is to show up to your first class without a pencil!
Ideally, your teachers would’ve sent an email to your parents or to you about what to expect during the first week of school. They usually attach a checklist of supplies you need; if they don’t, check the teachers’ websites for a list!
During the week before school starts, head to your local department store and buy everything you need. However, don’t buy too much, especially if you know you won’t need it (fancy pencil bags, huge packs of crayons, etc).
Pro tip: if you’re not sure how many notebooks to buy, get 1 for each core/non-elective class (English, math, science, social studies). If you’re not sure what size binder to get, get a 1.5 inch 3 ring binder.
Pack your backpack
Lastly, don’t forget to pack your backpack properly the night before your first day of school! With your excitement and nerves, you’ll be more likely to forget something if you pack your bags in the morning.
Here are some things you must remember to pack (if you were given a list, check with that list carefully!):
- Notebooks, binders (with dividers and binder paper), planner*
- At least 2 pencils, an eraser, a ruler, a black pen, a red pen, a blue pen, a highlighter
- A laptop (probably optional for your first day, but check with a list!)
- A water bottle and your lunch
- Your phone, house keys, sanitary products as necessary
*Your high school may provide a free planner.
Don’t worry about fashion
Most high school underclassmen care a little too much about how they look. It’s completely normal and okay to want to look good, but do not stress yourself or spend too much money because of it!
In all honesty, no one except yourself will judge you for your outfit or even remember what you wore the day before. Everyone cares much more about themselves than others, so you don’t have to worry about receiving judgement for your choice in fashion.
In addition, you should pursue comfort above all when it comes to dressing for school. Simple outfits such as a t-shirt and jeans, full sweats, or a sweater and leggings, are common sights in high school. Just be comfortable and be you!
Know your campus
Undoubtedly, knowing your campus is an essential step towards being successful in high school. It won’t benefit you much if you get lost on campus (which will be larger than your middle school campus)!
2 helpful ways to familiarize yourself with the campus is to go to freshman orientation and annotate a picture of your campus map.
I’ve already gone over the importance of freshman orientation, but let me explain how to use your map:
- Download a picture of your campus map on your phone (you can usually find a picture on your school website or in an email from the administration).
- Annotate the map, highlighting the classrooms in your schedule. Draw out the shortest or most efficient path to take as well.
- Save this map and set it as your phone lockscreen background. This way, you can easily see which way to go just by pulling out your phone.
Pro tip: choose a spot on campus that you and your friends can claim as your spot for hanging out between classes and eating lunch. In public high schools, it can be difficult to claim a spot and hang on to it, so make sure to do this early!
YOU’LL LOVE THIS POST: How To Survive Your Freshman Year Of High School
It’s okay to have just a few friends
As you approach high school and eventually college, you’ll realize the importance of having a few close friends and the insignificance of having a large circle of “friendly acquaintances.”
As you go through high school, you may even seem to lose a few friends; that’s okay! You’ll learn to make new friends, identify your inner support circle, and cut off toxic people. This is also an important process of high school!
How to make new friends
Many introverted students like to ask this question, and there’s no right answer. As cliché as it may sound, you will find your best friends by being yourself.
However, a good place to start for anyone is to talk to the people in your class. If there’s someone friendly who you share multiple classes with, get to know them! Even if there’s not, try to find the nice people in your classes and talk to them.
You can start conversations about the class, assignments, something you missed, etc. With more exposure to each other, you’ll become more friendly!
How to identify “toxic” friends
It’s never a good idea to keep “toxic” friends by your side, because they are often not good for your mental and emotional health. Here are some telltale signs of someone “toxic”:
- They hurt your self-esteem
- They gossip and share your secrets
- They aren’t sincere
- They make you nervous and stressed out
- They seem to bully you more than tease you
If you feel that someone is damaging your health, it’s time to talk to them or cut them off completely. Be honest and acknowledge that you don’t feel comfortable around them, and distance yourself from them.
Get used to the learning pace
The learning pace in high school is going to be different from that in middle school. You can expect a quicker pace (especially in harder classes) and a lot of self-teaching.
In many cases, you’ll be covering a lot of content yourself and in a short amount of time. Therefore, it’s important to practice self-control and maintain motivation. You can check out this post for some extra help: How To Find Motivation To Study When You Don’t Feel Like It.
Using a planner will also be insanely helpful to effectively track your assignments and test dates. Try not to fall behind in class, because once you do, it’ll be incredibly difficult to get back on the same page as everyone else.
AP classes (or IB classes in some regions) are advanced, college-level classes that are taught in high school. These are fast-paced classes that will require a lot of motivation, self-control, and time outside of class.
More so than in regular high school classes, AP students spend a lot of time outside of class learning the content. You won’t be able to fake it through AP classes. Tests are not simple knowledge tests, but instead check for deeper understanding. You can expect a lot of discussions, outside reading, and note-taking in AP classes!
Pro tip for AP students: take good notes! Use these notes (and things you learn from outside resources) to participate in discussions and study groups– they help!
Study a lot; study smart
Your high school grades matter (much more than your middle school grades), and it’s important that you treat studying seriously. Note, your grades and test scores don’t define you as a person, but they definitely will help in your college applications!
Build the right study habits, and you’ll struggle much less in your classes. Don’t treat studying as a chore, but set goals and study to reach those goals. In addition, build studying into your routine so that it becomes a daily habit!
Here are a few more essential study habits to build:
- Prioritize and batch assignments
- Review content in a timely manner
- Collaborate with others when beneficial and allowed
- Don’t procrastinate
- Learn from top students
See the full post here: 20 Actionable Steps To Become An Outstanding Student
Don’t limit yourself to your teacher and textbook! Good students know how to use their resources, and you should know what’s available to you from day 1. Here are a few resources I found very helpful in high school:
- Khan Academy
- Heimler’s History
- The Organic Chemistry Tutor
- Your friends (study sessions are a must!)
RELATED POST: The Easiest Way To Maximize Your Next Study Session
Join clubs that interest you
From your first week of high school, you should pay attention to the clubs present on campus. School clubs are usually active starting a few weeks after school begins, but you should keep an eye out for posters and club fairs to find ones you’re interested in.
Joining clubs early and participating actively is a great way to expand your circle, find learning and volunteering opportunities (don’t forget about senior service hours, which you’ll likely need to graduate), and potentially become an officer (positions look great on college applications!).
Although each school is different, there are many clubs that are common to many high schools in the United States. There are different types of clubs, and I’ve organized them into 3 main categories:
- Fun and casual. These are clubs that are purely interest-based, such as Ukulele Club and Kpop Club; these clubs are great ways to make new friends!
- Volunteering. These clubs emphasize community service and find local volunteering opportunities for their members. Some nationwide clubs with school branches include Interact and Key Club.
- “Professional.” These clubs focus on gaining experience in a certain field, such as medical or business. Some examples include DECA and HOSA.
If your school doesn’t offer a club that you want to be a part of, start one yourself! It’s a great way to show your passion for something and make an impact in your community.
Get enough sleep
Last but not least, don’t forget to take care of your body! Without a healthy body, you’ll find it difficult to study effectively and stay motivated. One of the most straightforward healthy habits is to get enough sleep.
Especially the night before your first day of school, make sure to go to sleep early! It may already be difficult to fall asleep due to your nerves, so don’t make it worse by scrolling on social media for hours before bed!
During the school year, getting enough sleep may be difficult for some students, because they are not able to finish their homework until late at night. But if you are able to (not procrastinating would be another great habit to build), try to sleep every night before 11pm.
Depending on your schedule, your sleep time may vary. But you should always try to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Avoiding electronics before getting ready for bed is an effective way to get better rest!
I hope this post helped you get an idea of what to expect on your first day and how to prepare for it! If you’re nervous, don’t be (it’s better to enjoy than dread your high school experience)! If you follow the steps in this post, you’ll be ready to go!
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