by Lyla Bhalla-Ladd '21
Oh, freshman year — I can’t say I miss you. In my lengthy one year of high school experience, I feel the need to pass on my knowledge to the new vulnerable members of the NCS Upper School. The beginning of the year is a rough time for us all, but it can be even worse if you don’t know the unwritten rules and practices of the typical high school freshman.
First of all, stop sitting in the sophomore lounge. In my first week of freshman year I thought those couches were up for grabs and proceeded to not only put my bags there, but also occasionally eat their food (big eek). Skip the awkward interaction and just stay in the Hearst enclaves.
Use your free periods well. I know it’s the one thing you’ll hear in every seminar, productivity lecture, and parent-teacher conference, but seriously. I know it’s exciting to be able to go to Open City whenever you want now, but truly — you have way too much homework to be wasting time convincing yourself that somehow your friends will help you study.
Speaking of Open City, don’t get in the habit of buying five dollars’ worth of ice cream and inviting nine friends to sit on every couch, chair, and even table (y’all are crazy) after sports. The staff get annoyed, the seniors will meme you, and you’ve already been banned once, so let’s not repeat seventh grade. Also, you’re going to be LIVING off vanilla lattes for the next four years, so don’t make enemies with the people making your coffee at 7:57am on an A Day.
After taking/surviving Modern World History (that felt amazing to say), I can tell you that you’re going to be fine. I know what you’ve heard, and I won’t dump any “just meet with your teachers” on you, but really don’t stress. That class is hard, no doubt, but it’s also a really good time to listen and learn. Ms. Bailey taught me so much content that I am so glad to say I know. The amount of material is hard, yes, but everything you learn is widely accepted as difficult material. It feels so good to be taking a class that your parents, relatives, and teachers are impressed with. People will understand if that stuff confuses you because that’s the whole point of that era — complexity. Trust me, you will survive. Just listen in class, do your homework, and really push yourself to stay interested.
Take an art class or two. One of my biggest regrets of freshman year was not dealing with my art requirement. Since you are coming from Middle School, you don’t know what it’s like to have a free period, so taking an art instead of a free won’t seem too daunting. But having to give up your free time later in high school to fulfill your requirements — that’s what kills you. Take an art that interests you and make some upperclassman friends!
In all seriousness, this is a big transition and it’s ok to feel overwhelmed at sometimes. Every single person around you gets it. Don’t be afraid to talk (cry) to your peer leaders about it. Just remember to stay present and take risks because there’s truly nothing like freshman year.