In and out of the classroom: how to survive your underclassman years

Your underclassman years are when you’re still learning the pace of highschool, who you fit in with, and who you are. Being the smallest and newest faces on campus can seem daunting; provided is a guide on how to make the most of it.

“People say being in highschool is all about ‘fitting in’ and making sure no one picks on you. For me, being in highschool is about just making sure you get your work done and making sure you get good grades,” sophomore Lizbeth Sanchez said. “I was super nervous about going to high school and people thinking I was less than [other] people. In reality, no one really cares about that. As long as you mind your business and do what you’re supposed to do, you’re okay.”

Outside of the classroom:

The crowd you surround yourself with in highschool can seem like your whole world! Finding a community you can truly be yourself with is an imperative factor in having a meaningful and memorable experience.

Be social and make as many friends as you can. It doesn’t matter what grade; just be friendly. Make friends you can hang out with at lunch, in classes, to help you study, and just to have fun with during the weekends (and after/before school).

Don’t keep the same cycle of your life (friends, activities, etc) just because it’s what you’re used to. If something’s not working for you, change that. Even if everything’s going well, reach out and try new things. Get out there and do fun stuff. Trust me, you will be so glad you did!

Try not to get into a relationship too early into highschool; it messes with your brain and you will end up working on the relationship instead of school work. And if you break up? It will mess with your brain even more than actually being in a relationship. Protect your peace, have fun, and keep it casual.

Try to join a sport or club and have some fun and make friends. Clubs and sports tend to help you be more comfortable and social around peers, which will help you with future socialization and relationship skills. Join, especially if it’s something you enjoy doing. Finding like-minded peers is a wonderful experience.

In the classroom:

Don’t go to school just for the classes! Join some clubs, a sports team, performing arts, classes, and electives that you’re interested in! You can even start something new at DP! Your time at DP goes by fast, so make the most of it by getting involved in things to meet more of your community. Your days will go by even faster and you will look forward to going to school more!

Grades matter, but at the same time they don’t. Avoid taking yourself too seriously. Develop the important skills and apply yourself in your classes, but don’t let academics take over your life. High school’s impact on your future is limited, so having a balance between challenging yourself in the classroom and enjoying what you’re learning is key to not burning out.

Don’t take mistakes or embarrassing moments too seriously. A bad grade, day, or moment isn’t worth ruining the rest of your time. Try not to overthink; if you can pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and keep moving forward, moments like that lose their power and you can do better next time.

Use free time in school to do homework and unfinished work. Always try to be friendly and respectful towards teachers—they’re on your side! Don’t be afraid to ask for help or even extensions since most teachers are very understanding.

Try to focus during class as much as possible, especially if it’s a class you have a hard time focusing in. Putting in that extra effort could help you understand the class better and eventually get better grades. It will also help you do better in your upperclassman years. SPEND TIME ON YOUR WORK! As fun as it may seem to go out with your friends and do your extra curricular activities like sports and fun events, focus on your education! That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, just really do your work in class and use your seminar time wisely! Then when you’re all done, you can do whatever you want and go have some fun!

And from a begrudgingly athletic senior, knock out your health and PE credits BEFORE senior year! I promise you, it’s not worth it to put it off.

But most importantly:

Be yourself! As cliche as it sounds, it’s futile to try to fit into a box of what you think you should be like. No one around you is that worried about YOU, and if they are casting a judgmental eye, they’re not worth your time. On a campus this big, popularity is pointless. Staying true to yourself and showing yourself compassion will take you further than any other bit of advice we can give.

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