The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

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The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

Some advice for freshmen

Photo By Elliot Krippelz
Parents and new high school students attend orientation at Kaneland High School. The 2023-2024 school year begins on August 16.

     My first day of high school was filled with anxiety because of the uncertainty of what to expect. I had a different experience than most of my friends, since they were continuing from middle school together. I, however, was coming into an entirely different district, with no idea of who anyone was and no clue what high school would be like. I heard all the cliche, generic advice from my family and older friends who had already experienced high school. But all I truly wanted was genuine advice from someone who was either in high school or recently graduated. Because I was new, though, I had no one to go to. Feeling like I had to figure out everything on my own as I went along – and still figuring things out now as a senior – I’ll always wish I had some basic guidance to at least ease my mind into this major adjustment. 

     Freshman year is portrayed so unrealistically in the media. It seems like all we see and hear about is harassment and bullying, the various social hierarchies that exist, how every senior is ruthless to every freshman and so much more. Truthfully, none of these things are realistic. I don’t mean to suggest that high school is without flaws. Occasionally, there might be slight teasing just because of your grade level, but that will happen any year and in any school, and it is never as intense as movies or shows make it out to be. One example of the type of thing freshmen might do that could be frustrating to upperclassmen is simply not demonstrating an understanding of hallway etiquette, but you will quickly know what to do and how to seamlessly get to each one of your classes if you just pay attention to what’s going on around you. 

     The high school workload and classes themselves are obviously going to be different from your middle school classes, but that doesn’t mean they are all going to be insanely challenging. I went into high school expecting it to gradually get harder from year to year, but truthfully it just depends on what classes you are taking. If you go into your classes with a mindset expecting to be challenged more than you were, it’ll realistically be easier just because you are expecting it to be harder than it probably will actually be. It all depends on the class and how much you apply yourself in it. You can email teachers, arrange to stay after school to get extra help, pay attention and ask questions in class and use Homerooms and Study Halls the way they are supposed to be used. Those sorts of habits will help you and increase your chances of success as you progress into higher grade levels. 

     Nancy Barile, an award-winning teacher, motivational speaker and author, wrote an article called Advice for High School Freshman from Departing Seniors. Barile put together some of the most realistic and best advice for anyone entering high school. 

     “When I was in 8th grade, a friend from high school told me I would absolutely need to work hard from the minute I entered high school. I listened. So many of my friends fell behind freshman year because it was so different from middle school. But I was ready because I got that advice, and I worked hard from day one,” Barile said. 

     Working hard is important, but taking breaks and letting yourself mentally relax is critical too and will make it less likely that you’ll burn out later in high school. You will want to avoid overexerting yourself to the point where you lose motivation for anything. That can make it difficult to bounce back each day and apply yourself in a way you can be proud of simply because you pushed yourself beyond your limits. Taking a night off from homework is not the end of the world. If you are in need of a break and know you can come back and finish your work the next day, take the night off and relax. High school is all about coming to understand yourself and doing what you need to do to succeed academically, socially, mentally and emotionally. That might not be easy, but there are ways you can help yourself. 

     Getting involved is extremely important to make the best out of your high school experience. If you want to join a club, a sport or a specific class but you’re intimidated by it, try it out anyway. From my experiences, trying something that I was even slightly interested in ended up making my whole high school experience so much better. You will meet and befriend people you would have never expected to talk to. At Kaneland, the school offers so many different things to people with such different interests. Being a part of something will also make you feel more comfortable with the school itself. During my freshman year, I felt so isolated from everything because I didn’t go out and try to experience things. When I was a sophomore and started exploring my interests, that’s when I felt more comfortable and involved. 

     When meeting new people and finding new friends, there is the inevitability that you’ll find yourself involved in some seemingly unavoidable drama in one way or another. If you can avoid or ignore any negative event that may be occuring, it will save you from so much stress. It may be easier said than done, however, if you can resolve things without escalating a situation it will be beneficial for everyone involved. Try to avoid saying anything hurtful that could come back up and reflect poorly on you in the future. It is easy to say things online, but everything you do there can resurface and affect you negatively down the road, so just avoid any online dramatics altogether. 

     Everyone has a different experience during their first year of high school. Some experiences will be better than others, but truly, so much of freshman year is what you decide to make it. When I came to school as a new student, I had such a negative outlook on everything around me. Looking back, I can see how that negatively affected my freshman year just because I mentally blocked it out. If you can learn from me, now that I’ve had a few years of experience, come into high school with a positive attitude and an open mindset, and that will help you adjust and feel better about starting the year in a new environment.

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About the Contributor
Elliot Krippelz
Elliot Krippelz, Design Executive and Photography Executive
Name: Elliot Krippelz    Position: Design Executive and Photography Executive    Graduation year: 2024   A few sentences about me: I absolutely love design, even with or without journalism, I have such a passion for it and I would love to continue it as part of my career. I also really love music, I spend a majority of my free time making new playlists and finding new bands to listen to! I love traveling, I currently have my scuba diving license and actively explore aquatic life (to the best of my abilities and would love to also do something with that in the future).    My favorite…   Movie: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Show: BoJack Horseman Sport: NONE! (I hate sports)  Animal: Truthfully any reptile, but leopard geckos are my favorite.  Book: None  Food: Sushi Song: Risk - Deftones, Karma Police - Radiohead Band / Artist: Deftones and Radiohead