Don’t Just Survive: A Few Words of Advice for Freshmen



Look up almost any article on entering high school, and you’re sure to find thousands of hits, most of them claiming to offer up advice on how to “survive” freshman year. Since it’s been about two weeks since school started, and you’re (hopefully) still alive, I’m hoping I’ll be able to impart some of the more unconventional wisdom I’ve accumulated from my past three years here at West so that you aren’t merely surviving, but thriving.

1. Find your family.

Putting yourself out there can be absolutely terrifying. I waited until January of my freshman year to join my first club, Science Olympiad. Back then, I didn’t know I’d be sticking with it for the next four years, or that I would meet so many fun and inspiring people there — at your first club meetings, you may not know what’s to come either. Check out the Activities Fair tomorrow to browse the outrageous number of clubs West has to offer, and force a friend to come with you to a meeting or three. If you take the time to seek out people and activities that make you excited for that final bell to ring, your time in high school will be that much more enjoyable.

2. Be brave.

This goes along with tip #1. As a freshman, I was painfully shy. It’s not something you can immediately get over, but by taking the metaphorical first leap, I guarantee it’ll be much easier the second (and third and fourth and fifth) time around. Whether you’re trying out for a sport, joining a club, asking for extra help from a teacher or at the Literacy Center, or just trying to locate the Lost and Found, take a deep breath, square your shoulders, and you’ll be ready for anything.

3. Don’t have “no regrets.”

What I mean to say is, don’t spread yourself too thin, and don’t feel like you’re missing out on something if you choose to put your time elsewhere. Maybe I could’ve opted for a less stressful course load or asked for extra help when I needed it. Maybe I should’ve stayed in band, or auditioned for a play, or continued to play sports after freshman year. But I didn’t. And I’m in a different place now than I ever imaged I would be because of it.

4. There is no excuse to procrastinate.

I was going to throw in an ‘almost’ for this tip, but in the darkest depths of your heart, you know that it wouldn’t be true. Please don’t learn it the hard way when you wait until the last minute to write essays and stay up until three in the morning (or later) to finish it. First, I firmly believe that all-nighters are completely unnecessary, as well as a cruel and unusual punishment for the body that has already served you so well throughout the day. And second: for your own sake, get your work done early and efficiently so you can spend more time doing the things you actually want to be doing. Period.

Best of luck to this year’s freshman Class of 2022. Go get ’em.