When I look back on September, I can easily say now that I didn’t have a good idea of what to expect of high school. I had a slight advantage over going in completely blind because my 16-year-old sister Cate had already gone through the high school transition two years before. However, the tips and explanations she gave me about the experience did not paint the entire picture of being a freshman.
This was not her fault, of course. First of all, that would be a pretty long conversation—one school-year’s worth of details. But most importantly, we were — and are — different people so our experiences had the strong potential of being totally different. People often speak of not being prepared for something as a negative thing. But for me, the lack of expectation was very exciting. It was not going to be another year of middle school, I knew that. My year could have gone in any number of directions and I was eager to discover which direction it would go.
Speaking personally, I enjoyed this uncertainty. However, I can’t deny that it was very helpful to have a little bit of advice and perspective beforehand. The most important thing to appreciate going in is how much more independence you have. This was a very good thing. In middle school, the big change was not following a line of the same people from class to class. What I found in high school, however, was a new meaning of self-reliance, beginning at the very start of the day. We no longer have a homeroom or academic support experience. Instead, there are school bells which dictate the beginning of the day and when each class begins and ends. It’s up to you to manage getting books from your locker and getting to class on time. This idea was terrifying at first, but in reality the teachers were forgiving when I occasionally couldn’t make it to class on time. Plus there has always been plenty of time to grab my binders in between classes.
It has been interesting going to school with students who aren’t really kids anymore, but are closer to adults. At the beginning of the year, I did cross country. The team was very small and mostly composed of upperclassmen. Suddenly, the coaches had high expectations of each individual’s capability and maturity. And everyone on the team was very responsible and friendly, reaching out to the newcomers on the team like myself. I suggest that any incoming freshman consider a sport or club which can allow them to interact with other students outside of a classroom.
I would say that this year has been pretty challenging for me in class. I’ve had to dedicate more time to school because I’ve wanted to get a good grasp of the academics. So, for most of the year I didn’t take part in any sport or club besides cross country. I do think, however, that this was just a reflection on this being a bigger adjustment for me than my freshman classmates. Some of my classmates have played a sport each season and done fine.
But despite the new workload that everyone experiences, the air of independence encouraged and practiced by the teachers and students has allowed me to develop a work ethic I otherwise could never have gained. The information that’s taught in class is more detailed and fascinating. At this point, I feel like I know a little more about the “real world” and feel much more confident about myself in it.
So now that three-quarters of the year has passed by, I can identify which direction high school has swung me. It’s an exciting direction with new friends, new environments, and new teachers. I am a lot more self-reliant and I’ve had opportunities I didn’t have in middle school. Being around more people who know themselves better than they had in the lower grades is inspiring and interesting. I can say now the direction high school has taken me in is a great one.