Graduating from middle school and entering high school can bring about a mix of emotions. For some, this new chapter brings excitement, a sense of adventure, and ample opportunities. For others, the start of high school provokes anxiety, can seem overwhelming, and feel a bit intimidating. So often I hear from parents, and soon-to-be high school freshman, that they have no idea what to expect as they begin this new chapter in life. High school can seem scary when you don’t know what you’re doing, which is why preparing ahead of time can jumpstart your high school success. It is never too early to start! Here are some tips on how to be successful in high school.
Attend orientation and join your school’s link/transition program
Attending your high school’s orientation might seem “lame” as a teenager, and exciting for Mom and Dad. Instead, look at orientation as an opportunity to learn about your school’s culture, rules, and expectations. Many questions are answered during the orientation session and can relieve much of the stress incoming freshman experience. Orientation is also an incredible social opportunity. Use this time to reconnect with old friends, as well as getting to know potential new friends!
If orientation still sounds dreadful, look into your high school’s link crew or transition program. Almost every high school offers some sort of link or transition program. It’s for incoming freshmen, and it works as a mentoring program throughout the freshman year. These transition programs help freshmen navigate their new terrain. Each freshmen is paired with an older student who shows them around the school, give guidance on how to successfully navigate their first year, social advice (i.e. school events, information on clubs, etc.), and academic support and information they might need. To learn more about transition programs, visit the boomerang project. You can also contact your high school about their transition program.
Stay connected before freshman year begins
Establishing strong relationships with friends is not exclusive to school. Use summer as an opportunity to make time for your friends and talk to them about what you are looking forward to once you get to high school. Make plans to join a club at school together, go through your schedule and find out who you know in each of your classes, and make sure to join your high school’s Facebook group. Most schools have become social media savvy. They’ve created ways to connect students with one another before school begins. This is a great platform to ask current students questions you might have, or just another way to build new friendships.
Before the first day of school, you should have everything you need so you do not have to scramble. Make sure you have a copy of your schedule, all your books, binders, notebooks, and pens and pencils. If you noticed, I said books, binders, and notebooks, as in plural. The “one-for-all” binder will not cut it in high school. Make sure you have binders, notebooks, and folders for each of your classes and label them accordingly. Color-coding your school supplies is also helpful and can make it easier to stay organized.
Another important organizational tool is a planner. Be sure to get a planner, or use the planner your school provides you, to prepare and plan on a weekly basis. Making a weekly schedule will help you get a good idea of how busy your week is and will help you schedule your time accordingly to prepare for tests, due dates for assignments, and other special events that may be happening. Developing your organizational skills is an important part for how to be successful in high school.
Remember to breathe
If you are still feeling anxious, even after reading the tips above, try these relaxation strategies to lessen your nerves. Deep breathing is one of the most effective anxiety reducing strategies and you can do it anywhere! If you are walking through the main entrance of high school or sitting in your first class and you feel your heart begin to beat fast and your nerves rising, take a few long, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose for about 5 seconds and then out your mouth for another 5. Deep breathing helps slow your nervous system down, lowers blood pressure, and brings more oxygen to your brain so you can think more calmly and clearly.
Another technique that can be used anywhere is visualization. Simply close your eyes and visualize your happy place, your favorite activity, or picture your own personal cheering squad. Challenging your anxious thoughts and reminding yourself that most freshmen feel some amount of nerves when they begin high school is also important. High school is full of new experiences and first-time situations, so it is normal to feel nervous from time-to-time. You are not alone!