Lessons I Learned as an Underclassman

Article by: Kay S.

Graphic by: Sandro L.

Freshman year.

The first semester of freshman year was something that I would like to call a rude awakening. I was so used to the somewhat easy-going pace of middle school that I was not at all expecting what freshman year held. My then-sophomore friends would give me advice and warn me against the dangers of procrastination, but I brushed it off, thinking that they were just trying to scare me.

Looking back, they were probably just trying to warn me.

Some people try to kid themselves that freshman and sophomore year don’t matter. Some people may say that it’s the time for you to have a good time before the storm of the IB diploma hits. To each their own, but personally, I disagree.

I think your freshman and sophomore years are the time where you can  work on time management and study habits. And although I don’t mean to be a stick-in-the-mud about the whole academic situation, a lot of attention and regard are placed upon extracurricular activities. Varsity and IASAS cuts are  made, teams are constantly flying back and forth, clubs have their Saturday Services, and so much more. It’s so easy to get caught up in everything that’s happening around you- your first Battle of the Bands, ICARE, Battle of the Bearcats- that it may be easy to just brush off the academic portion on your plate and leave it to the ‘I’ll do it later’ pile.

In my opinion, the freshman and sophomore years of high school are for you to truly find your groove with the subjects that you like, and discover the way you like to study them. Remember, the IB is only a short two years away, and once you’re in the IB, graduation and college await you. It’s all too easy to get caught up in all of the hubbub happening around you, but always remember to have your priorities straight, and to never leave anything (be it a lab report or a CAS report) till the last minute.

Some important tips that I picked up along the way are:  

  • Remember to keep a planner with you! High school does not give you planners anymore, remember to have a to-do list somewhere. Keep it constantly updated, because trust me, you won’t remember that one math assignment you’d ‘made a mental note’ to do.
  • Review notes within a day of learning them. Research shows that people who have revised their notes remember at least 40% more content than those who decide to cram in a lot of knowledge in one night. Taking work in little by little proves so much more beneficial in the long run than pulling an all-nighter the night before a test.
  • Cut out fake friends! If friends don’t make time for you, make you feel truly valued, or make themselves open and available for you, don’t hesitate to cut them out of your life! It may feel a little awkward at first, but trust me- you’ll feel so much better afterwards.
  • Focus on your languages! Modern language has, for a lot of people, sat on the backburner when it came to studying, but those grades will matter when you go into the IB! If you don’t understand a concept (this goes for any subject), do not hesitate to ask your teacher, and make a move to follow up during a tutorial session. Teachers are there to help, so go seek them out if you have any problems.
  • Join clubs and sports! This is a great way to build friendships and lasting connections all throughout high school, and one of the best ways to meet new people across all four grade levels.

At the end of the day though, freshman and sophomore year are times for you to test yourself, challenge yourself, and most importantly, have a good time. If you are feeling in any way overwhelmed, or just need someone to talk to, do not hesitate to talk to anyone at the HS Counselling Center; their doors are always open for you. Keep in mind that although responsibility will rush at you much faster in high school than they did in middle school- that you are never given anything you cannot handle, and to above anything, keep doing you and being happy.