High school can be a scary time. One day you’re in a school with preteens, and the next you’re passing by 18-year-olds in the hallway who can drive and vote. Middle to high school is a huge transition. Hopefully, now that it’s October, everyone is settling in. Here are five tips to make the most of your freshman year.

Join clubs and/or sports

By joining clubs you are expanding your social circle to beyond your class and beyond your grade. Clubs are a great thing to add to your college resume , especially if you get a leadership opportunity. Sports and clubs are an amazing way to make new friends, pursue or find new interests, and stay active in your school's community.

Ask questions

This one might be obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many students are scared to speak up in class. I promise you that if you have a question, someone else is confused about the same thing even if they’re not willing to speak up. Asking questions shows teachers you’re engaged, interested, and helps them tailor their lessons in the future.

Build good habits

Use freshman year to develop habits that will benefit you for the rest of your life, such as public speaking skills, a decent bedtime, study plans, organization, etc. You can also use your freshman year to experiment with habits! Let’s say you want to get 8 hours of sleep so you try going to bed at 10 and waking up at 6. If 6 feels too early, try going to bed at 10:30 and waking up at 6:30. It’s better to experiment with these sorts of things now than later in your high school career when you have more pressing things to worry about.

Know your resources

This kind of goes back to asking questions, but know what your school has to offer you. Is there free test prep? What are your teacher’s office hours? Are there college prep platforms used? Are there clubs that you’re interested in? The more you know about your school, the better.

Put yourself out there! It gets better

Freshman year may not be your best year of high school. People are getting to know one another and also getting to know themselves. Just know that it always pays to be kind and to make new friends, and that as time progresses your high school experience will get better. The best thing you can do is stay true to who you are and your values and be accepting of all.

Marilyn O'Day is an 11th-grader who volunteers at InsideSchools events for newly arrived families.

(Photo courtesy of Essex Street Academy.)