During high school, time moves at the speed of light, demanding that you keep up with constantly conflicting goals.

Join extracurricular activities, but keep your head in your books. Create memories, but focus on your future.  

If you’re a high school freshman, it can be overwhelming to take short-term and long-term action at the same time. Check out these 8 survival tips for the high school freshman to make it easier.

  1. Get to Know Teachers

Freshman year is the start of your high school journey. Think of your teachers as guides along that journey.

The personalities of your teachers’ matter. Paying attention to the social cues of adults, especially those in positions of authority, will help you become a better communicator later in life.

Listen to the feedback you receive from teachers without taking it personally. Look for ways to connect that feel natural and meaningful to you. 

When you’re ready to apply for colleges down the road, you should have one or two teachers who can speak to your character. Whether you’re a top student or struggling in their class, a student who shows commitment is more likely to attract great teacher recommendations in the future. 

  1. Activities for the High School Freshman

Getting into high school tips are all about focusing on your grades—but high school is also a great time to explore your personal interests. Check out a variety of clubs and enrichment activities to find the best fit.

You might be surprised to learn what you’re good at or find a new interest in. These extracurricular activities can lead to new opportunities like exclusive summer programs, awards or college scholarships.

Starting club activities as a high school freshman gives you plenty of time during the next four years to explore new activities to see what appeals to you the most. 

  1. Find Leadership Roles

There’s one exception to the rule of exploring extracurricular activities. For students fortunate enough to enter high school with an existing talent or strong interest, taking on a leadership role in that activity can be a great way to sharpen your reasoning skills.

Because leadership is about self-development, learning to lead others will help you improve your grades, social relationships and time management. Good leaders motivate others to succeed, coach them through problems and learn how to communicate with people different than themselves.

These skills are the building blocks to a successful career whether you choose to go on to college or not. 

  1. Take Advantage of Summer Break

Summer is the time to relax and enjoy months of no homework. But this doesn’t have to mean a marathon of screens and hangouts with friends.

Balance your time by using your summer months to explore your career interests. For example, Emory University offers an Infectious Diseases Institute to high school students that run three weeks out of the summer.

Programs like this help you confirm whether or not a subject you think sounds amazing is all it’s cracked up to be. Summer programs serve to further your understanding of a subject or give you the confirmation that the subject might not be for you. 

When you get to college and are asked to declare a major during freshman year, having this prior exposure to careers will be a valuable tool in making this decision. 

  1. Visit Colleges 

High school freshmen don’t have to worry about college right away. Visiting a college during the end of your freshman year is more exploratory than stressful. 

Taking away the anxiety of what school to choose can help you make decisions with a clear head. If your parents are willing, find opportunities to visit schools in other cities to get an idea of the culture in the area.

  1. Work on Teams

Volunteering with local neighborhood charities a great thing to start during your freshman year. When you volunteer, you learn to take direction to achieve a higher purpose or goal.

Find volunteer groups where you can exercise this same skill as a team. Your listening skills and ability to take direction will improve.

Both these skills are also helpful in becoming a strong leader and student. 

  1. Just Say Yes

As the old saying goes, life is what happens when we are busy making plans. You might have the best plan laid out for the next four years of high school but what actually happens will likely be much different.

Taking advantage of opportunities you wouldn’t normally say yes to. It could either be a great learning experience that confirms you never want to be involved again or an opportunity to meet people that introduce you to your dream summer job.

The path to opportunity is often a jungle gym. Take on the adventure by saying yes when approached by teachers and parents about unique opportunities that weren’t a part of your original master plan. 

  1. Start SAT/ACT Test Prep

Standardized testing is at the top of no one’s weekend bucket list. But the process doesn’t have to be brutal.

Starting test prep early is just like visiting a college campus as a high school freshman. You don’t necessarily need to study right away so there’s little pressure to get everything right.

Instead, you’re casually introducing yourself to the process of taking the test rather than trying to achieve perfection. Opt for a free online course that allows access to a few sample test questions at a time. 

Mobile apps are also available to help you get easy access to practice in your spare time. 

Surviving Freshman Year

The first few months of high school can be overwhelming. As a high school freshman, you need to get familiar with your basic schedule and homework loads before venturing too far into extracurricular territory.

By your second semester of high school, the kinks are usually ironed out giving you more time to expand your horizons.

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