by Ashley Cullins |Updated October 27, 2022
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Beginning your freshman year of high school is a big, exciting step. Like any big step, of course, it can also feel intimidating at times. High school brings new classes, new people, new rules and routines, and new expectations. It’s normal to feel a little nervous about navigating all these changes.
In this guide, we’ll explain exactly what you can expect as you begin your freshman year of high school. We’ll also include some helpful tips for making the most of your first year as a high school student. When you know what to expect, you’ll feel less worried and more confident and prepared.
What’s So Different About High School?
In most cases, your high school is bigger than your middle school. You’ll attend classes on a larger campus with more students and more teachers. You may follow a different bell schedule and spend longer blocks of time in each class.
Transitioning to high school also means higher expectations and harder classes. But there’s good news too: you’ll meet more people, make new friends, and have more activities and opportunities to choose from. Plus, you’ll have fun experiences like high school football games, dances, learning to drive, and more. There’s a lot to look forward to!
When you get to high school, your classes naturally become more challenging. Your teachers want to prepare you for college and life in the real world. This often means more homework, more studying, and harder tests.
Luckily, your middle school teachers were likely preparing you for high school. By building on the knowledge and skills you already have (like organization and study skills), you should find that you’re able to rise to the challenge.
Now that you’re a high school student, you’re expected to demonstrate maturity and responsibility. High school teachers won’t necessarily “hold your hand” as much as middle school teachers did. You’ll need to be self-motivated and keep track of your assignments and deadlines more independently.
You may have more students per class than you did in middle school, and your teachers may move faster through lessons. If you have questions or need extra help, it’s important to speak up. Your teachers will expect you to advocate for yourself and your educational needs. If speaking up makes you nervous at first, you can start by using email to build your comfort level and confidence.
High school teachers enforce higher standards, and most don’t tolerate some of the behaviors that were acceptable in middle school. Again, the goal is to prepare you for college and real life. Even if the expectations seem tough at first, remember that you’re learning helpful and important life skills.
In most cases, you’ll have more classmates at your high school than you did at your middle school, and many of them are probably new faces. At first, you might feel nervous about meeting so many new people. Try to think of each new person as a potential new friend.
More people can actually be a great thing! If you didn’t find a lot of classmates you connected with or related to in middle school, high school provides a better opportunity to find “your people.” Participate in elective courses and extracurricular activities that interest you, and you’ll find like-minded people with similar interests.
More Activities and Opportunities
High school offers a much wider variety of activities and opportunities to pursue. You’ll get to choose from a wider variety of elective courses, including some that might fit your future college plans or career goals.
You can also join several clubs from a range of options, play on a sports team, participate in chorus or band, and much more. In high school, there’s truly a club for everyone. Whether you’re into dance, chess, cooking, robotics, poetry, or planting, there’s probably a club you’ll love.
My high school even had a Walker’s Club (I was the Vice President). We literally just met up and went on walks together—it was relaxing, good exercise, and a fun way to meet people. So, if you’re feeling nervous about starting high school, get excited too! You’ll have so many more choices, and more choices means that you’re more likely to find opportunities and activities that are perfect for you.
Of course, you’ll also get to enjoy classic high school experiences like football games and dances (if these experiences interest you). During your time in high school, you’ll reach exciting milestones like learning to drive, applying to college, and gaining more responsibility and freedom.
Although high school does bring new challenges, it also brings plenty of new adventures.
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How to Make the Most of Your Freshman Year of High School
Now that you know what to expect, let’s discuss some tips for making the most of your freshman year of high school. It’s important to have a healthy balance of hard work and fun, so we’ll talk about both!
To manage harder classes and higher expectations, you need to boost your organizational skills. Staying organized will reduce your stress. It’ll also help you manage your time wisely, meet your deadlines, and keep those grades up.
Get a planner or calendar to record important dates and deadlines. Some students like to use a different color for each class, or different colors for homework/tests/other activities and dates. When you complete an assignment, cross it off. It’s a satisfying feeling to successfully check something off your list!
Settle into a routine to make time management easier. For example, give yourself an hour to relax when you get home, then finish your homework and studying for the evening. If you create good habits now, you’ll have a great foundation for the rest of high school (and beyond).
Improve Your Study Habits
Speaking of good habits, you’ll find that you need to get more serious about studying. Cramming the night before a test (or winging it without studying at all) isn’t going to cut it anymore.
Start by taking notes in class. Get a spiral or composition notebook for each class, and jot down new and important information during each lesson. How will you know it’s important? Often, your teacher will say, “This is important!” or, “You’ll need to know this for your test!” Otherwise, pay attention to what’s printed on your teacher’s slides or handouts, as well as information your teacher repeats.
If you want to make studying much easier, set aside time each afternoon to reread your notes. You don’t have to do anything special—just read over the notes you wrote once or twice. The act of hearing the information, writing it down, and then reading it will help you remember. Plus, if anything seems confusing, you can make a mental note to ask your teacher about it the next day.
When it’s time for the test, read through your notes and textbook chapter(s) again. If you come across something that seems unfamiliar, write it down. Revisit these notes again before concluding your study session. Use any study guides or other tools that your teacher provides, or make your own flash cards or two-column notes.
Have a Study Group
It’s also useful to have study groups if you can keep the focus more on studying than socializing. You might have questions about a topic that your friend is an expert on, and vice versa. Coming together to ask questions and discuss the material is often highly valuable preparation.
When I was in high school, my friends and I found that trying to do our main study session together wasn’t productive, but we liked to review together. We studied separately in the evenings, then met at a coffee place across the street from our school in the morning. We reviewed our notes, asked each other questions, and clarified any confusion or misunderstandings about the material. It was extremely helpful!
Put It All Together
Experiment with a few different strategies to figure out what works for you, then stick with your favorites. By taking and reviewing notes throughout the week, you’ll have a solid grasp on the material, making studying much less stressful. Then, your more in-depth study and review sessions will solidify your knowledge and get you ready to ace your exams.
And of course, you’re not only learning the material for the test. You want to retain it for mid-terms, final exams, college, and life in general. Creating good study habits instead of cramming helps you remember valuable information long-term.
Find Your Passion
With so many new activities and opportunities, high school is the perfect time to find your passion (if you haven’t already). Join a few different clubs to see what appeals to you. You might discover a new interest, hobby, or even career path.
Finding something you’re passionate about will make high school an even more enjoyable and enriching experience. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with new ideas—you never know what will spark your interest and inspire you.
Take Steps to Prepare for College
Freshman year is not the time to begin overly focusing on college or stressing about your chances of admission. However, it’s a great time to begin taking small steps to prepare for college and build a strong foundation for the next four years.
Here are a few small steps you can take during your first year of high school:
- Develop strong organizational and study skills, determining what strategies work best for you.
- Get good grades.
- Build relationships with teachers at your school.
- Discover an area of interest(s) and stick with it—colleges love to see that you’re passionate about something and dedicated to pursuing it.
- Take rigorous courses, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Strength of schedule is an important factor in college admissions, and weighted classes can boost your GPA. But start with only a few advanced classes, build your study skills, and then add more when you’re ready.
- Eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest, and remember to relax. If you don’t take good care of yourself, you won’t be at your best.
High school is an interesting and exciting time in your life, so don’t forget to enjoy it. It’s great that you’re motivated, hard-working, and eager to take steps towards a successful future.
But it’s equally important to remember to relax and have fun sometimes too. Pushing yourself too hard leads to burnout, so it’s actually unhelpful and damaging to your productivity and success. Take good care of yourself and find a healthy, satisfying balance between work and fun.
You only get to experience high school one time. Make the most of it! Build solid habits, do your best, work hard, learn, and enjoy the new activities and opportunities that are yours to explore.
Final Thoughts: What to Expect Your Freshman Year of High School
As you begin your freshman year of high school, you can expect:
- Harder classes
- Higher expectations
- More people and new friends
- More activities and opportunities
- Fun experiences
To make the most of your high school debut, helpful tips include:
- Build your organizational skills.
- Develop good study habits.
- Find your passion and pursue it.
- Take steps to prepare for college, like creating good habits, building relationships with teachers, and earning good grades.
- Enjoy yourself! Balance work, fun, and relaxation so you’re mentally and emotionally healthy.
If you have other concerns about high school, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more information you have, the less nervous you’ll feel. Remember that you’ll have an adjustment period at first, and that’s completely natural and normal. By following the tips in this article, you’ll catch on quickly and hit the ground running. So, take a few deep breaths and relax. You’ve got this!
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Sophomore year or the 10th grade of high school is a time to begin seriously thinking about post-secondary plans. Tenth grade is when students can start researching colleges, visiting campuses, and thinking about career goals. They should plan to take the PSAT and any AP classes.What to expect as a freshman in high school? ›
Freshman year of high school is a BIG transition. You'll move to a new building, take more intense classes, meet new people, and start seriously thinking about your future. This year sets the stage for success in high school and in college.How hard is it to get into Notre Dame? ›
The acceptance rate at Notre Dame is 17.7%.
For every 100 applicants, only 18 are admitted. This means the school is extremely selective. Meeting their GPA requirements and SAT/ACT requirements is very important to getting past their first round of filters and proving your academic preparation.
Yield protection is an alleged admissions practice in which an academic institution rejects or delays the acceptance of highly qualified students on the grounds that such students are likely to be accepted by, and then enroll in, more prestigious institutions.Is 17 old for a sophomore? ›
The 10th grade is the second year of a student's high school period (usually aged 15–16) and is referred to as sophomore year, so in a four year course the stages are freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.Is sophomore year harder than freshman? ›
Your sophomore year is just as important as your freshman, junior, and senior years in high school. However, I know that sophomore year will get a little harder than freshman year. You'll probably have more homework but do well to complete all of them if you want to maintain your grades.Is a 15 year old freshman normal? ›
In the United States, ninth grade is usually the first year in high school. In this system, ninth graders are also often referred to as freshman. It can also be the last year of junior high school. The average age for the U.S. 9th grade students is 14 to 15 years.Do freshman grades matter a lot? ›
For colleges, the freshman year is typically the least important year on the high school transcript (they figure you're just trying to find the school every day). But that's not to say freshman year doesn't matter at all. Lots of colleges, particularly private schools, will consider your freshman grades.Is freshman year the hardest year of high school? ›
Although some people might find that freshman year of high school is challenging, junior year would typically be the most difficult, busy, and important year because of everything you have to juggle from academics, extracurricular activities, and college preparation to still keeping a social life.What is the lowest GPA Notre Dame has accepted? ›
University of Notre Dame GPA Requirements
The average GPA at Notre Dame is 3.77, and the minimum required GPA for admission into the university is 3.0 (or higher). If your high school GPA falls below this mark, you'll need to work hard to improve it before applying.
The GPA requirements for Harvard University are between 3.9 to 4.1. You will need an incredibly high GPA and will likely be graduating at the top of their class in order to get into Harvard University.Is it harder to get into Duke or Notre Dame? ›
Is University of Notre Dame or Duke University Harder to get into? Which school is easier to get into? If you're looking at acceptance rate alone, then Duke University is more difficult to get into.Do colleges reject overqualified students? ›
While there is some anecdotal evidence that overqualified students get rejected, these students aren't usually turned down because of their better-than-average grades or test scores. Most likely, the overqualified student isn't the right fit for a school or they haven't shown enough interest to admission officers.Do colleges care about yield rate? ›
Yield is important to many colleges as historical yield data helps the college predict how many students they should admit to meet their enrollment target. If the school historically sees high yield rates, they can admit fewer students.Why is it called Tufts syndrome? ›
Yield protection is also commonly called “Tufts syndrome,” a moniker bestowed due to a large number of times Tufts University has been accused of the practice.Can you be 19 in the 12th grade? ›
The twelfth grade is the twelfth school year after kindergarten. It is also the last year of compulsory secondary education, or high school. Students are often 17–18 years old, and on rarer occasions, can be 19 years old. Twelfth graders are referred to as Seniors.Can you be a freshman at 25? ›
There is no age limit for attending college and there are students of all ages attending college for the first time. Many students who are freshman at 30 have decided to pursue their bachelor's degree or attend specific university programs needed to advance their careers.What grade is 18 years old? ›
Students attending high school are around age 14 to 18. It starts with grade 9 and ends with grade 12. The classes are arranged by subjects. A student usually has different teachers throughout the day.What is the most stressful year of high school? ›
While each year of high school will have its own stressors, many will say junior year is the most challenging. Junior year can be the hardest for several reasons, but with the right prep and expectations, high school students can make the hardest year just a little easier.What's the easiest high school year? ›
Going into high school, many students hear that freshman year is the “easiest” year. Some think that colleges don't consider it as much as they do one's sophomore, junior, and senior years. While this is typically true, it doesn't mean that students should entirely dismiss the importance of their freshman year.
Junior year is often full of stressful academic experiences. SAT's, the desire to get good grades and the college application process make junior and senior years arguably the most difficult of high school. Students in each year face unique challenges and can struggle to find the time and energy to get everything done.Why do freshmen gain weight? ›
There are various causes for weight gain during the freshman year, such as eating in dorms, social events, eating late at night, stress and emotional eating, increased alcohol intake, and decreased physical activity.Is 21 too old to be a freshman? ›
It's never too late to go to college. The only downside from starting later is that you, being more mature now, may not drink as much, party as hard, and skip classes. You now recognize that a college degree will give you more choices as to what you can do with your life. You will never regret it.Is 20 too old to be a freshman? ›
No. 20 is not too old to start college. At any college, there will be plenty of freshmen who are 18, sure—but you'll also find people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, (you get the point). When you go to college, you'll quickly find that the student body wasn't nearly as uniform age-wise as it was in high school.Is it common to fail freshman year? ›
You may be surprised to learn that many students fail academically in their first year of college. One-third of freshmen students don't make it to their sophomore year. That's a huge number, and it worries everyone concerned with higher education.Do colleges look at 9th grade? ›
Pretty much every college will see your teen's grades from the first year of high school as part of their transcript review. Even universities that emphasizes tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade grades when they evaluate applicants for admission will still see ninth grade marks on transcripts.Will one B ruin a 4.0 GPA high school? ›
1 B on your HS senior mid-year report will not affect your admissions results. I think a C or D would raise a yellow/red flag but not a singular B.Why is 9th grade so important? ›
Consider ninth grade as the “capstone” year of middle school
Experiencing ninth grade as the culminating year of middle school, rather than the bottom rung of high school, can be a great way for students to cement fundamental skills and build the confidence to move on and have a successful high school experience.
Junior Year is the Most Important
While all the years of high school are important, junior year is definitely one that stands out for many reasons, and for college-bound teens, it may be the most important year of their high school career.
Standardized Testing May Cause Grades 3 and Up to Be the Hardest Elementary Grades to Teach. Many educators argue that the hardest elementary grade to teach is one with standardized testing pressures.
What is the lowest GPA ever recorded? 0.0 on a 4.0 scale is the lowest GPA record.What is the most lowest GPA? ›
Unofficially, 2.0 is the lowest GPA accepted into a standard college, so while there's a chance that college admission is possible, it's not likely at more than a few institutions.What SAT score is required for Harvard? ›
There's no absolute SAT requirement at Harvard, but they really want to see at least a 1460 to have a chance at being considered. Exclusive: Want to learn how to improve your SAT score by 160 points? Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score.What was Mark Zuckerberg's GPA in high school? ›
Famous CEOs such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg did not attend college, and therefore did not have a GPA.Has anyone gotten into Harvard without SAT? ›
We will allow students to apply for admission without requiring ACT or SAT test results. Consistent with Harvard's whole-person admissions process, standardized tests are only one factor among many.What GPA is required for Yale? ›
Yale University does not have a strict minimum GPA requirement for undergraduate admissions. However, admitted students typically have very high GPAs, ranging from 3.8 to 4.0, with an average GPA of 3.9.
While most successful Duke candidates have a higher GPA reflected in their high school transcripts, it's possible to be admitted into Duke with a 3.5 GPA. Remember, there is no required GPA at Duke University! While grades are an important component of your application, they don't guarantee acceptance.What major does Duke accept the most? ›
The most popular majors at Duke University include: Computer Science; Public Policy Analysis, General; Biology/Biological Sciences, General; Econometrics and Quantitative Economics; Research and Experimental Psychology, Other; Political Science and Government, General; Computer Engineering, General; Bioengineering and ...Is it harder to get into UCLA or Notre Dame? ›
Is University of Notre Dame or UCLA Harder to get into? Which school is easier to get into? If you're looking at acceptance rate alone, then UCLA is more difficult to get into. However, each college is looking to fill its incoming class with a variety of students with different strengths, backgrounds, etc.What will make colleges not accept you? ›
- Failure to meet high GPA or test score standards.
- Insufficient academic rigor.
- Lack of demonstrated interest.
- Application essay errors.
- Poor fit.
- Academic integrity concerns.
While it's extremely rare for a college to overturn its decision, you may recommend that rejected students write a letter of appeal explaining why they deserve to be reconsidered. This action will give students the peace of mind of knowing that they have done everything possible to make a strong case.Do college students regret going to college? ›
Despite wide differences in levels of regret when it comes to majors, the vast majority of respondents were glad they went to school. Only 9% of those who attended a public institution wish they had not gone to college, the Federal Reserve survey found.What is Duke University known for? ›
Duke is renowned for fostering intellectual curiosity and promoting academic rigor with a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate programs spanning various fields, including engineering, economics, public policy, medical and health sciences, and environmental sciences.What college has the highest yield rate? ›
Higher yield means that more admitted students are finally enrolled into the school. Goddard College, has the highest yield rate of 100.00% for academic year 2021-2022 in United States.What college has the lowest yield rate? ›
The yield, also known as enrollment rate, is the percent of students who choose to enroll after having been offered admission. Higher yield means that more admitted students are finally enrolled into the school. Bennett College, has the lowest yield rate of 2.80% for academic year 2021-2022 in United States.How do you avoid yield protection? ›
Tip 1: Demonstrate your interest.
Far and above any other tip we could share with you, this is the most important factor to avoid the possibility of yield protection. Do not treat colleges and universities as if they are machines.
One factor that can impact Tufts' ranking is its size. Tufts is a mid-sized university with a total undergraduate enrollment of around 5,700 students, which is smaller than many of its peer institutions. As a result, making it more difficult for Tufts to compete with larger universities.What is yield rejection? ›
Yield protection is an alleged admissions practice in which an academic institution rejects or delays the acceptance of highly qualified students on the grounds that such students are likely to be accepted by, and then enroll in, more prestigious institutions.Is sophomore year the hardest year of high school? ›
While each year of high school will have its own stressors, many will say junior year is the most challenging. Junior year can be the hardest for several reasons, but with the right prep and expectations, high school students can make the hardest year just a little easier.Is sophomore year a hard year? ›
Some consider sophomore year to be the most difficult, just because it's a huge adjustment period for many students. While some students experience difficulties during their sophomore year, some experience a slump during a different year, and some don't experience a slump at all.
You'll be expected to do more work and take more responsibility. It's expected that you built up your study skills during your freshman year. So, you can now hone them during your sophomore year. The amount of homework goes up, and the classes get even more challenging.What is the sophomore slump in high school? ›
The Sophomore Slump. You're most likely familiar with the term “sophomore slump” – that phrase to describe an academic decline during a student's second year in college, or an athlete's or artist's struggle to measure up after a successful debut performance.Do grades matter in sophomore year? ›
Your first year and sophomore year affect your cumulative GPA, which is important to most colleges. However, a solid academic record in your junior year is likely to carry more importance with an admissions committee.Do colleges look at sophomore? ›
Colleges will look at your sophomore grades, whether it's to see if you maintained an acceptable GPA or improved from the year before. Getting a headstart with strong grades and challenging school work alongside extracurricular activities can make all the difference when you reach your senior year.How do you get out of a sophomore slump? ›
How Can I Recover from the Sophomore Slump? If your grades are starting to suffer as a result of feeling the sophomore slump, it may be worthwhile to talk to your teachers or a guidance counselor and explain the situation. Teachers may be willing to let you retake a test or have some extra time.How important is sophomore year? ›
Your sophomore year builds on the content and skills you learned as a freshman. It also provides you with a critical chance to work toward performing at your peak as a junior. If you fall behind as a sophomore, you may find yourself struggling to strengthen your academic record in your junior year.Is it bad for a sophomore to like a freshman? ›
Is it weird if a sophomore guy dates a freshman girl? No, not at all. You're only a few hundred days different in age. If you're well suited to each other, a year won't make a difference.Why am I doing so bad in school all of a sudden? ›
This might be shocking to any parent, particularly if their child is generally an above-average student. A rapid reduction in grades could be caused by anything simple, such as failing to turn in a large project on time, or something more serious, such as bullying at school, health challenges, or family issues.How do you survive a sophomore year of high school? ›
- Do not pull all-nighters.
- Avoid procrastination.
- Spend time with your friends.
- Always challenge yourself.
- Manage your time wisely.
- Try new things.
- Study hard and take plenty of notes.
The sophomore slump is a generic term referring to a lack of initiative and motivation that occurs during the sophomore year, but it doesn't refer to a specific cause. Instead, the culprits are often varied and unique for each student.
The short answer: Yes, you can recover from sophomore year, and as long as your grades are consistently doing well (it'd be good if it's mostly As, 1 or 2 Bs) throughout the school year (junior and senior year), I don't think it would be too much detriment to your college applications.What are the challenges of the sophomore year? ›
The Challenges of Sophomore Year
“Sometimes termed the 'sophomore slump,' students are met with the challenge of changing majors, solidifying friendships, seeking meaningful internships or jobs, and finding a sense of belonging.”