Editorial: Letter to Freshmen

Jocelyn Castañeda

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Photo by Jocelyn Castaneda

It’s time for the freshmen to listen up! This letter will expose the best and the worst parts of high school to prepare for.

Dear freshman, you’re up! You’ve gotten a few months off from regular school and I hope you’ve realized that online learning was just a warm-up. It’s time now to prepare yourself to actually tackle high school. Don’t try to act “cool” by ignoring this letter because it’ll actually be very useful.

First off, prepare yourself for the new workload. Since you guys are new to this high school thing, the teachers are totally taking it easy on you. Expect more homework, more quizzes, more busy work and way more studying. A great habit to start now, is to not let your grades slip up. Trust me, it’s easier to keep good grades if you simply don’t allow yourself to slack off so much that it becomes too hard to raise your grades. You might not completely understand this yet, but high school grades are not AT ALL like junior high grades. In junior high, you probably got or almost got straight A’s. In high school, that’s so much harder to achieve. Keep in mind, there’s a greater workload, harder classes, higher expectations and tougher grading. And don’t let freshman year fool you! It’s definitely the easiest year in high school, so make sure you don’t think sophomore year will be the same.

Also, there will be times when you become frustrated with your grades. I recommend you don’t try to pull out your acting skills to attempt to persuade a teacher to round up your grade. Something I’ve learned in high school is that you get what you deserve. Go ahead and quote me on that once you’ve figured it out for yourself. If you decide not to review your notes and restudy any concepts you might not understand, definitely don’t expect a stellar grade. There will be times where you simply just forgot about an assignment or tried your hardest, but it’s best to be honest to your teachers and tell them the truth. Excuses are so overrated. Trust me, if you’re completely honest with your teacher, they’ll notice and appreciate that, and it will be easier to work with them. Moral of the story is, don’t annoy teachers by begging them to adjust your grade.

Speaking of grades, there’s some new things you’ll want to keep in mind. Quarter grades will NOT show up on your transcript, so that means colleges will be looking at your semester grades and your GPA. It’s really important to make sure you get yourself together before the end of the semester to have a good grade. But, it’s more important to do your best to keep steady grades throughout the year as that will affect your GPA. Just as a small piece of advice, don’t cram your schedule with unrealistic expectations. It’s better to take less AP or honors classes and receive all A’s than it is to take a bunch of AP and honor classes that take a hit at your GPA. Yes, colleges like to see hard classes on your transcript, but they also do not like seeing low GPAs and might even assume that you don’t know how to manage your time.

Time management, let’s talk about that. When I say we all struggle with this, I really mean we ALL struggle with this. Freshman year is a great time to create a schedule that works for you. Whether that’s getting home and starting homework right away or taking a break then starting it before it gets too late, just find what works for you. You don’t want to be stuck worrying about finishing an assignment 30 minutes before it’s due. It’s stressful and annoying. Plus, teachers REALLY don’t like it. Expect to have times where you’re so bombarded with work that you can’t possibly complete it all. But do your best to not procrastinate so often that teachers begin to remember you as the student who’s always turning assignments in late.

Now that all the work stuff is out of the way, let me tell you about the environment on campus. Believe it or not, our school is actually pretty preppy and does a lot for us students. We’ll have spirit wear weeks where we dress up based on different themes, we’ll have College Thursdays where we wear attire from a college and we’ll have fun activities sponsored by ASB. It may feel weird or awkward to participate in some of these things, but you should do it every once in a while. Even if you’re not a very social person, high school is a great time to get out there and have your fun. Go to dances, enjoy prep rallies, attend sports events. You’ll have fun and experience what it means to be an Aztec.

Also, find where you belong. It’s not a bad idea to join different clubs, sports teams or hang out around different people. You’ll have a better chance of having a good high school experience if you put yourself out there and try new things. Oh, and just as a spoiler, you’re definitely going to gain some new friends and lose some too. High school drama is a real thing. Try to stay out of it and avoid any toxic situations by sticking with friends who really care about you and have your back.

Oh, and I hope you haven’t been skipping leg day. The bridge at our school will forever haunt your dreams. I mean it’s not completely horrible, but it definitely sucks. Just don’t be that person who pushes others and tries to get in front of everybody, because if we’re being honest, no one likes that person.

On a last note, work hard and you’ll get what you deserve. But please don’t get too caught up in being perfect because that is so unrealistic. Do your best, be the best you and please HAVE FUN!