Freshmen Roadmap: How to Make the Most of Your 1st Year


Freshman year can be rough—brutal, even. It’s that time in a student’s life when he transitions from the king of the middle school to the puny cannon fodder of the high school. Fortunately, not everyone is working against you, and by following these tips (in no particular order) you can make your freshmen year experience at least slightly less horrifying.

Homework:  DO IT
First off, do ALL of your homework every day. Sure, it sounds like a no-brainer, as it’s pretty simple to follow this rule. But for sake of comparison, let’s say that you decide to slack off and skip a single math assignment. This is the worst thing you could possibly do to yourself. This assignment has to be done the next day, which in turn means you might have to push a different assignment to another day, making that one late. I think everyone knows that this is a “downward spiral,” and if you fall into this it can cause you some serious academic problems. In some classes, homework is 30% of your overall grade, so every single assignment can make or break your year.

Take advantage of every available free block. Almost everyone is guilty of playing video games at Monkey Island for a nice 45 minute break. Suffice to say, there are so many more productive things that you could be doing. Go to the library and talk to Ms. Coy or Ms. Radwancky about strategies in a class that you may be struggling in. Cram for that test you have the next period. Get a jump-start on your homework to lessen your workload that night. Do something productive for half an hour and then slack for 15 minutes.

Don’t Sleep in Mr. Aliazzi’s Class.

Speaking of Sleep: GET SLEEP
Set yourself a bedtime and keep it. Unless you’re Dante, you can’t pull off 57 consecutive all-nighters. Falling into a nice bedtime routine will keep you refreshed and energized, and can help you avoid the above.

Bring Food
Bring a snack. Yes, the USPA sells candy and pizza on Tuesday and Thursday, but the rest of the week can be pretty slow without a little energy. Take an energy bar, a Gatorade, a bag of cereal even. Grab a little of anything to fuel yourself. So long as you don’t leave anything (like, say, milk) in your locker over spring break, you should be a-ok.

Meet with Teachers
If you get a disappointing grade, schedule a meeting with your teacher to talk about what went wrong. They’re here to help you.

Treat Your Computer Like a Newborn Baby, Only More Gently
Go to the US shop and grab a computer bag. It might sound like overkill, but do you want your one-thousand dollar homework slaying machine shoved in a backpack? So many times, screens are jostled around and shattered against your textbooks and binders. A US computer bag has a nice bit of padding, serves as a handy place to store your charger (and even your phone), and even maybe transport your novel from English class in the most extreme cases. It’s a worthy investment.

Use Schoology
Schoology is your new best friend. Often, in-class Keynotes and PowerPoints are downloadable from class resource folders. You can print these out and take notes directly on them, or even just look them over before a test. If you’re lucky, your teacher may even make old tests available from last year for practice, which are great for midterms. If they’re not on Schoology, just ask for your teacher to email them to you.

Use Quizlet
Quizlet can raise your next grade by at least fifty points if you use it right. Just drag and drop from those class PowerPoints.  It’s so simple yet so helpful. The new update can be a little difficult to navigate, but it’s still one of the best online learning tools.

Join a club
Lastly, join a club or extracurricular. There are so many fantastic opportunities at US: Robotics, Rocketry, Outdoor Projects, and best of all, US News, just to name a few. If you don’t like any of the available clubs, just start one! This gives you a bit of break from routine and keeps your school life from getting stale. And who knows? You even might find something you’re passionate about.

Just DO IT
Hopefully you’ll all take this advice to heart. Following even one or two of these guidelines can improve your year a thousand-fold. Trust me, I’ve been through this before.