Brooklyn teen David Mascio is entering his junior year at Stuyvesant High School. Here's his advice to students just getting ready to start their freshman year at a new high school.
Starting high school can be stressful. You may have left many of your middle school friends behind as you go to a different and unfamiliar neighborhood and you only have a vague idea of what the school will require from you. Fortunately, there are ways to eliminate much of that stress and make your freshman year an enjoyable and successful one.
Before classes begin, take a trip to the school and get to know the neighborhood. It's a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with the commute and figure out how long it will take you to get to school. And, if your school allows you to go out for lunch, you can find interesting places to eat.
Many high schools have their own websites. Look at those to find out more about the school, such as what classes and special programs are offered. You may even find a map of the school - no getting lost in the hallways!
When school begins, one of the best ways to make friends is to join an after-school activity. Take some time to learn about the different activities your school offers and make sure you find how much time you will need to devote to pursuing them. Try to avoid what happened to a friend of mine. In the first week of school, she signed up for a club without knowing how much time it would require. She was looking to get service credits, which are a graduation requirement at her high school. Already overburdened by her schoolwork, she found the club's requirement that she travel to far-away places to volunteer after school exhausting, but knowing that the club only gave service credits at the end of a year with the organization, she was forced to stay with the club despite the strain.
A word of caution - it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of new things and overburden yourself with commitments. After-school activities are only enjoyable when you're not straining to keep up with them. In the first few months of freshman year, don't sign up for more than one or two activities. Wait and see what your high school workload will be, and how much free time you'll have available.
It's important to organize your time. As a freshman, it was hard for me to comprehend how long tasks took to complete. I would volunteer to write an article for the school newspaper, only to realize that it was due on the same day I was having two exams, resulting in me staying up late one night and having little to do the next. I would also put off completing assignments, because every night seemed too busy to work on them. Now, I organize my schedule for the next week on my Friday train ride home from school, and then update the schedule as the week progresses. By the time I get home each night, I have a general idea of what I need to do, and how long it will take to accomplish it. Planners are a good way to organize your schedule.
Make sure that you include time to sleep in your plan. In an effort to get as much done as possible, it's easy to cut down on the things that don't seem as important, like sleep. Not sleeping is a bad idea - it'll hamper your productivity. Studies have shown you do your best work when you are well-rested, and that sleeping helps you consolidate what you've learned.