If you’re 14 years old, you might be preparing to enter high school for the first time ever as a freshman. If you’re like I was…you’re slightly terrified.

I was the oldest child in my family which meant I experienced everything first. I remember hearing the names of the grade levels in high school, but no one actually told me what they meant. Maybe I’m a total anomaly, but just in case…

Freshman = 9th grade
Sophomore = 10th grade
Junior = 11th grade

Senior = 12th grade

Whew! I’m glad I got that secret off my chest.

But you may have a few more concerns about entering your high school years. So what do you need to know? Here’s what I wish someone told me before high school.student in front of high school

Take 4 years of math.

Even if it’s not required by your high school, colleges have high school course requirements for admission. Here is the list of recommended high school classes. I also often hear from college students that they wish they would have taken 4 years of a world language because their college Spanish class moves at a much faster pace than high school Spanish.

Also, middle school teachers often told me: Your classes are going to be so much harder in high school. And obviously they did get more difficult, but not in an overwhelming way. You build capacity, or the ability to handle them. Which leads me to…

Dual credit courses are not going to end you.

Dual credit courses were not a well-known concept at my high school, so few people took them. But I didn’t totally understand what these classes were: one class where you earn both high school and college credit simultaneously. I wish I would have taken these classes to give myself a confidence boost before college and to knock out a few college credits before I even walked on campus.

Try lots of activities.

I tried out clubs (Spanish Club, Key Club, forensics), music groups (choir, orchestra), and volleyball as a 9th grader. Plus I was really involved in Girl Scouting and church. I was slightly involved in lots of activities during freshman and sophomore years, but not doing anything really well. So I realized I should narrow it junior year. I chose the activities I was most passionate about and invested more time in them, which led to me being happier. Find your niche. You also usually find your best friends in these activities.

Start an Activities Resume now.

Come senior year, you will need to apply for scholarships. And they want to know everything you’ve been involved in and awards received. Start writing it all down now because you think you’ll remember everything you did through all of high school, but you quickly forget. It would have made my life easier if I started recording it all as a freshman.

Prepare to get a job and prioritize saving money.

I’m sure there are things you want to buy now, and that will just continue. But you’ll also want to save money for future purchases: a new phone, a car, and even paying for college. Plus getting a job will help you build skills that a future employer will want as you begin a career.

People are kind.

High school is not as scary as we make it to be in our mind. Most coaches and teachers are super nice and want you to be successful. Getting involved in activities will help you meet friends. There will always be jerks (still will be as an adult), but you learn to distance yourself. And choose instead to pass on a little kindness too. Like telling next year’s freshmen that a 10th grader is a sophomore, an 11th grader is a junior, and 12th graders are seniors.

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