Photo illustration by Amenah Shabbir / youthjournalism.org
Entering high school for the first time can feel overwhelming.
By Hafsa Ahmed
LAHORE, Pakistan – The air is visibly thickening around you. Your eyes are clouding in with something that can obviously not be tears. Rubbing your clammy hands on the starchy material of your denim jeans, you inhale a huge gulp of air.Every nerve in your body is skittish. You look up to the sky, agog. No sign of an owl. Could Hogwarts have forgotten to send your letter three years in a row? You let out a sigh of defeat. High school it is, then.
Presuming my dramatics didn’t scare you off immediately, greetings! Penning (or rather, typing) these words before you, I am a senior student in my last year of school, here to convey some words of wisdom that might be able to calm you of the anxiety you might have pertaining the next big step of your life: High School. So without further ado, here is my easy peasy five-step guide for you hopeful freshmen.
1. Peer group: You need to remember that the entirety of high school is a transition from childhood to adulthood. You, as well as everyone around you, is going through an infinite number of changes.
You’ll make new friends, fall out with old ones, and that’s completely the norm. So don’t get freaked out. Keep yourself open to the possibility of new friendships and don’t dwell on the chance that they might not work out. High school is a four-year long journey and to make the most out of it, you’ll need the company of jolly, supportive and understanding peers.
2. Teachers: Ooh, the big one. You’ll need to tread lightly here. While some teachers can make your school life as easy as swallowing caramel pudding, others can make you downright distraught. However, you, dear freshman, need to be polite and mannerly at all times.
During a lecture, if something goes right through your head, then do make a point of clearing it up with your professor. And if you’re too troubled by the prospect of being labelled a “nerd” by your classmates, make the effort of visiting the said faculty member privately to understand that concept. Never hesitate to ask a question. Live by that mantra and at the end of the year, your exam preparation will be as easy as 1, 2, 3.
3. Extracurricular Activities: My favorite part. One of the best things about high school is the innumerable opportunities it provides you to indulge in your hobbies. Don’t have a particular one? No worries; engage in everything you can get your hands on to find where the passion lies. Have an eccentric interest? Again, not to worry. Start your own club or society.
The point here is that high school is not the complete academic prison some make it out to be. Luckily for you, colleges take a great interest in your pursuits outside of the classroom, besides the obvious academic activities. Which brings us to…
4. Academics: You’re still with me, right? I sincerely hope so, because this might just come in handy. Studies do not have to be this morbid horror story every step of the way. All you need to do is: pay attention in class, ask questions to clear away any misconceptions and do your home-work. (Yeah, that one’s still there.)
Additionally, you should take up courses that hold some interest for you. Colleges love kids who show a predisposition towards varied academic interests. Plus, learning becomes significantly easier when it’s something you love.
A word of advice: do NOT put off your assignments. I am prone to the seductive lure of procrastination. Trust me, juggling three essays, two quiz preparations, one speech and a science project in a single night is NOT cool.
5. Your Image: I believe that one of the major issues kids face in high school is centered on identity. This can range from something trivial, like an eccentric hobby, to the big leagues, like ethnicity or religion.
The pressure to fit in exists, there is no denying that. Losing yourself in the mundane process of it? Not worth two cents. No matter what you face during the next four years of your life, stay true to your soul and don’t lose hold of the real you. It may take a while to understand what that entails, but once you do, do not give it up.
On that slightly philosophical note, I’d like to sign off by advising you to let go of all those grim notions you have of high school. Proceed with an air of caution, but keep your mind open to the very real possibility of the next four years turning out to be the best of your life yet. Follow this short blueprint of mine and high school will be a breeze. Godspeed!
Your tax-deductible contribution can help support Hafsa Ahmad
and other students worldwide through this nonprofit at