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Congrats, you’re officially transitioning into high school! You’re about to gain a little more independence. Check out our tips for starting high school!

1. Make a visit before school starts

Your high school might offer freshman orientation where you receive your schedule and have the opportunity to check out the lay of the land. This includes the location of the gym, cafeteria, main office, freshmen lockers, and bathrooms. If your school doesn’t have an orientation, you may still be able to explore right before school starts up again in August. If you have an older sibling in high school, ask them to give you a tour of the school.

2. Get involved ASAP

Many clubs will hold meetings in the first month of school where newbie freshmen can come and check it out. Your school may also have a club fair where you’ll be able to see the entirety of student organizations you can sign up for! Make sure you involve yourself in clubs or sports that interest you. Doing so, you may have a chance in the future to pursue a leadership position. Plus, you’ll be able to meet new people who share the same interests!

3. Pick fun electives that aren’t too hard

High school is probably the first time you’ll be able to take elective courses. You can choose from classes in music, art, photography, creative writing, carpentry, computer science, business, and so on. Pick something that sparks your enthusiasm, but that isn’t too challenging. You’ll want to see how you do in your core classes (Math, Science, English, History, and Foreign Language) before piling on the work with tough electives.

4. Don’t skip class

First impressions are everything, and attendance COUNTS. Some schools will put your number of absences on your transcript, and colleges WILL see that. It’s not a good look to show a ton of absences in your freshman year. You’ll probably want to save those for college visits.

5. Remember that freshman year counts

Even though most people think that junior and senior year are the most important, freshman year grades still count towards your GPA. So while you might not be thinking about college just yet, you WILL BE in a couple of years. The last thing you want are your bad grades from freshman year haunting you on your college apps.

6. Ask questions in class

If no one else is asking questions, that doesn’t mean everyone understands what the teacher just said. Half your class probably has the same question as you, but are too afraid to ask. Your peers will be so grateful that you have the nerve to actually raise your hand and ask the question. To encourage you further, do not be intimidated by your teachers because they want to know that you are engaging with the lesson!

7. Learn to manage your time

Believe it or not, students who are busier (i.e. involved in extracurricular activities) obtain higher grades. This has a lot to do with the time management skills that are necessary for a hectic schedule. If you struggle to balance school work and extracurriculars, check out our tips for time management! With a little more practice, you will become a total pro at enhancing your productivity!

8. Write down all of your assignments

When you’re in the classroom and your teacher announces the homework, it’s easy to tell yourself, “Yeah, I’ll TOTALLY remember that.” But after a full day, you’re going to get home, collapse on the couch, and completely forget about that response paper for English class. Sometimes it’s okay to text a friend, but don’t make it a habit. Get a planner, and write it all down. If you don’t want a planner, use apps or set reminders on your phone. No matter the style you prefer for organization, there is an option for everyone.

9. Learn to speak up for yourself

When you encountered a problem in middle school, the adults in your life likely took care of things for you. When you start high school, your teachers will view you as a young adult and expect you to feel comfortable talking to them. If you’re having trouble keeping up in class, dealing with a bully, or even experiencing problems at home, you should be the one to talk to someone about it. Get to know when your teachers and school counselors are available whether it be during lunch or after school. If you need to talk to someone privately, your teachers and school counselors will be MORE than happy to do so.

10. Do your homework

Doing your homework will help reinforce what you’re learning in class and improve your overall course grade. If you happen to forget your homework or you had an emergency, it’s always better to address your situation with your teacher rather than keeping quiet. Most teachers will give you partial points for turning in late assignments. (Better than nothing!) When telling your teacher about your missed homework, honesty is always the best policy. Be sure to ask for extra credit opportunities to compensate for the points you’ve lost!