The Freshman’s Guide to the Galaxy


Neel Agarwal, Writer

What is the meaning of high school? While sadly this answer can’t be summed up by the number “42”, this question can be answered with the generic “to get into a good college” or with a longer, much more detailed explanation.

When you freshman first stepped foot onto the Hunting Valley campus, you looked upon this massive campus with your awestruck eyes and agape mouths marveling at the fact that you made it this far in your academic quest to greatness. High school should be no different from other transitions in your life, from preschool to elementary school and elementary to middle school. The process is only as hard as you make it out to be.

From my vantage point in upper commons, I can distinguish the underclassmen from the more settled-in sophomores, juniors, and seniors. While this article mainly pertains to the newest members of our US community, everybody can benefit from this advice. The biggest mistake I see is the lack of productivity happening throughout the building during free blocks, extensions, breaks, and before school. Instead of frantically completing your homework in the 5 minutes before your class, or, god forbid, during class, why not utilize your free periods more effectively? If you utilize your free time during school wisely, you could have little, if any, homework to do after school, which you could use to play video games, or better yet, catch up on sleep!

One valuable resource that I don’t see enough underclassmen using is teachers. Teachers aren’t solely there to give homework, ruin GPA’s with tests, and hand out demerits; they’re our most valuable asset here at US. So use them! Seek extra help with teachers if you need the extra push to attempt to study for a difficult topic covered in an assessment you are studying for or did poorly on in the past. I doubt that there is one upperclassman who hasn’t sought to clarify help from a teacher on any topic that gave him difficulty in the past.

Another problem that I, myself, haven’t witnessed but I understand was a problem in the past during my beginning years at US was plagiarism and cheating, which are real and serious threats. Don’t take the easy way out. Cheating on a test or homework assignment from another student undermines the levels of trust in the community as well as damaging your reputation and high school career. As well, plagiarism, or the act of passing off someone else’s work as your own, is illegal and also results in a suspension, if not expulsion. Simply copying down a Wikipedia article into an essay or something of the sorts, is warrant for a 3-day suspension. While these methods may earn you the quick points on a couple assignments, it is never worth the suspension, which drastically blemishes your high school academic record. You don’t want to curse yourself for the mistakes made as a freshman during your junior or senior years.

A final note: AP courses and course loads. While piling on AP courses and designing a rigorous schedule may seem appealing to some students to get a headstart in their high school careers and hope to impress colleges, it’s not worth it. The late nighters (or all-nighters for the unfortunate few) take a toll on the body and mind and the additional stress caused by these difficult classes is not beneficial and can damage other aspects of your life. One must balance their academic life with their social and personal lives. If one gets out of balance, others suffer.

While this isn’t all I could say on the matter to advise younger members of the community, these are the ones I felt most important to talk about without losing the focus of the younger readers. While the term “freshman” or “underclassmen” may seem derogatory at times, think of high school as a “fresh” start where you have to earn the wisdom that comes from being an “under” classmen to an “upper” classmen.