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Welcome to high school! With a little excitement and perhaps a bit of nervousness, you are now entering a whole new world. This year will be full of changes— likely, you’ll be heading to a different campus with some unfamiliar faces, navigating the ups and downs of a busy class schedule while also managing your social calendar, before and after school activities, homework, and did someone say sleep?

No matter what your new landscape looks like, approaching this transition with confidence and optimism will help you to find your rhythm. Here are three things to keep in mind as you start your first year off right:

  1. Connect from the start: In high school, the relationships you build with your teachers, coaches, counselors, and adult mentors are priceless. Their support will be crucial on challenging days and their guidance uniquely valuable as you start to imagine your life beyond high school. Take a moment in the first few weeks to chat one-on-one with the adults in your day, whether it’s a conversation before class to introduce yourself or a quick email to say hello. Establishing these relationships from the get-go are meaningful, as well as integral in cultivating academic integrity, making it easier to ask for help on assignments, submit drafts and receive feedback, or get an extension if needed. A strong connection with these individuals your freshman year will ensure you’ve got a super squad supporting you in the years to come.
  2. Organize with intention: Gone are the days of shared supplies in the classroom or teachers writing down assignments for you. As you enter high school, it is now your full responsibility to stay organized, be it your textbooks in your locker or your projects in your planner. From the get-go, write down notes and tasks clearly in your notebook, using different colors, tabs, or checklists; add extracurricular and work commitments to your planner, too, so you can see your whole schedule in one glance. At home, have a private, quiet workspace with no distractions where you can study. In the coming months, as you prepare for tests and finals, it will also be helpful to develop a study plan that will give structure to your weekly cram sessions. And while freshman year can feel overwhelming at times, if you organize with intention, you’ll be surprised by how much you can manage gracefully and with gusto.
  3. Say yes to something new: Freshman year is your chance to start a new chapter and embrace unexpected opportunities. Staying true to you is important, but sometimes by agreeing to try something fresh, life opens doors for you in meaningful ways. Check out the variety of sports or academic clubs available at your school; start your own club, especially if you are passionate about an unusual topic or activity; ask to join a new group of people for lunch or invite a peer who looks lonely to sit with you. Chances are, by saying yes to something new, you’ll open yourself up to friendships or adventures you never thought possible.

Freshman year marks the beginning of a formative time in your life. Whether you heed this advice or other tips from graduates who have survived and thrived in high school, know that your this year will be memorable, no matter what. And the amazing part? The typical school year is only about 175 days long, which means that before you know it, you’ll be gearing up for your first day as a sophomore…