Freshmen Survival Guide

By News Editor Ishika Chawla & Staff Writer Richard Chenyu Zhou

Organization Tips

Organization is highly sought after but incredibly hard to achieve in reality. If you haven’t already, get a planner. MSJ sells one loaded with information on school clubs, events, and important dates such as the ACT or SAT, but it sells out rather quickly. A planner allows you to keep track of homework, upcoming tests, and projects, and makes planning ahead less stressful. In addition, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of checking things off. Make sure to establish good planning habits—don’t be the person who never touches his/her planner by second semester. If you don’t like the idea of a planner, a calendar, bulletin board, or another type of schedule will also do the trick. Remember, use what is best for you.

Managing Time

Everyone has that schedule that he or she follows for the first five days of school in which he or she sleeps eight hours, drinks plenty of water, and has three square meals a day. After those five days, however, that schedule tends to fall apart and the stereotypical sleep and nutrition-deprived MSJ student emerges from the ashes. It is your job to make sure that this student is not you. Creating a daily schedule is fundamental to be successful in any environment, especially one as academically-rigorous as MSJ. Creating a list of priorities and separating them accordingly into time slots will take five minutes of your time but will also save you plenty of sleepless nights.

Meeting Upperclassmen

Establishing relationships with upperclassmen is extremely useful but also an undervalued ability at MSJ. Upperclassmen are incredible resources to for advice on classes, clubs, and anything else that you may be concerned about given that they have been through the process before. They are not as intimidating as they seem. Talking to upperclassmen who are in the same clubs as you or keeping in touch with your Link Crew leaders are easy ways to make a connection that you can utilize for the rest of high school.

Joining Clubs

Joining a club provides so much more than just a line on a college application. Clubs offer networking opportunities, fun events, and ways to participate in activities outside of school. Clubs often put up posters and flyers both in school and on social media advertising upcoming meetings, so check to see if a club you might be interested in is hosting an event. Don’t be afraid to talk to club officers: they’re also students like you. Most clubs have a Facebook group, and you can message or email the officers at any time. Don’t forget to check the new WarriorHub app—clubs will often post information there as well.

Approaching Teachers

Regardless of how it may seem, teachers do not intend to torture your mind and soul. Teachers are real people too, and talking to them about subjects in and out of class without “sucking up” will help your teachers get to know you both as a student and as a person. This can be helpful, not only for recommendation letters, but also for giving you an authority figure that you can trust and depend on. Simply saying “Good morning!” and “Have a good day!” before and after class will help you establish a relationship with your teacher, so do not be afraid to reach out and make connections to help you both personally and professionally in the long run.

Staying Healthy

It is easy to get caught up in the cycle of school, extracurriculars, homework, and sleep every day. Unfortunately, exercise and health are often disregarded as things that you will “worry about later,” and you convince yourself that as soon as the stress is over you will get your health back on track. Force yourself to switch out your cramming snacks from junk food to fruits and vegetables, and take 30 minutes out of your day to eat a healthy meal with your family. Also, do at-home exercises or go for a run outside or on the treadmill for another 30 minutes to an hour to make sure that you stay fit—the extra endorphins and chemicals produced by working out will increase your efficiency and focus to help you get your work done a lot faster. Work hard but also keep in mind that your health is the top of your priority list and sleep is an essential component to making sure that you have the energy to keep going.

Study Groups

Classes will often seem overwhelming, but it’s important to stay on top of schoolwork. One of the best ways to do this is to form a study group with other members of the class. This not only makes digesting course material more fun and less daunting, but also allows study group members to motivate each other and ensure that nobody lags behind. Study groups also allow you to get a day’s notes if you miss class. Often, your classmates will be in the same boat as you and will be more than willing to help you out. Plan ahead for study meetings by scheduling a time and outlining what material your group will cover so you don’t get sidetracked. If done correctly, studying won’t be the chore that it’s been stigmatized to be.

Photo Courtesy Execrank

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