9 steps to 9th grade

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9 steps to 9th grade

Eliza Bonilla

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Editor’s Note: We are re-publishing this popular series for the start of a new school year. This story originally ran in 2015.

  1. Join a GMHS sports team or a club if sports aren’t your thing

Joining a sport can make the transition to high school so much easier and enjoyable. Since lots of sports practices begin in the summer they’ll give you a chance to get to know people before the school year starts. Sports tend to involve students in all grades, so you can find someone who knows their way around that can help you. If you don’t like sports, join a club! They’re a great way to get involved in the school and the community. And, if you don’t want to play a sport, definitely go watch the games!


  1. Don’t be afraid to befriend upperclassmen

For most people, freshman year will be the first time you have classes with people in multiple grades. Lunch, along with different classes and electives, is also mixed grade-wise. Branch out and don’t be afraid to talk to and become friends with people that aren’t in your own grade. If you exclusively talk to freshmen you could miss out on a lot. Yes, although people may make jokes about your freshman status, most people are open to being friends no matter what grade you’re in.


  1. Pick your classes wisely

Picking your classes can be a little stressful since there are options than there were in middle school. Really think about what classes you want to take, you don’t want to get stuck in an elective you don’t like (You should definitely choose to take journalism if you can’t decide). Also, when it comes to whether you want to take honors classes or not, talk to your teachers and think about whether you find that particular subject too challenging or not. Don’t stress about choosing too much though, you will always have the option to switch out of a class if you are really struggling, but picking the right class for you from the beginning is definitely the better option.


  1. Think ahead

Think about what classes you want to take next year. Your choices in classes can influence whether you choose to take an AP or IB class in the future. Check out the program of studies and meet with your counselor to see what path is the best for you. Ideally, you won’t start taking AP classes until sophomore year, but planning ahead will make it all so much easier. You don’t want to find yourself in the situation where you want to take a certain class, but don’t have the qualifications to. It might seem ridiculous to think about these things now, but never hurts to think ahead, and you might thank yourself in the future.


  1. Be prepared to work! Don’t procrastinate!

You will probably see a difference in the work load when you reach George Mason. It really does depend on what classes you’re taking, but, generally, you will have a lot more homework, projects tests, etc. as most would expect out of high school. Procrastination is a big problem for me, and I’m sure it is for a lot of other people. You will definitely have to be more strict with your studying and time management. If you’re used to spending only a couple of hours on homework and studying while watching TV, it probably won’t work for you anymore. Freshman year is the time to get serious about your work ethic because the habits you make will probably stick with you for the next three years. If you are doing a Mason sport your practices and games will leave you with even less time to get work done, balancing sports and school is extremely important. While procrastinating might seem like a good idea, it never EVER is.


  1. Refrain from using electronics in class and abusing your newfound freedom

For students, life at George Mason is pretty relaxed, at least compared to middle school. It can be easy to take advantage of the ability to use your phone or computer, leave class, etc. Don’t make bad decisions that will negatively influence your ability to pay attention in class, you’ll probably regret it later.


  1. Actually use mustang block for school work!!!

At the beginning of this school year I looked at Mustang block as a time to just sit and relax with my friends, and maybe watch a few episodes of my favorite shows on Netflix. Now, however, I definitely find myself catching up on homework or going to teachers rooms and asking questions. It’s also perfect for if you are ever absent and need to take a test, do a science lab, or get the notes you missed. If you use Mustang block as a time to work you can lessen the amount of homework you have to do in your own free time.


  1. Don’t get too stressed or put too much pressure on yourself!

While a lot of these tips have been about working hard and not goofing off, you don’t want to be too extreme about it. If you get too caught up in your school work you’ll find yourself extremely stressed. Enjoy your first year in high school, don’t let it get ruined by focusing only on grades and overworking yourself. If you get one bad grade it’s not the end of the world. Find a balance between school, hobbies, and friends. While you don’t want to completely slack off with school work, you don’t want overdo it.


  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Just because you’re in high school, it doesn’t mean you are expected to be completely independent, If you don’t understand something, don’t refrain from asking your teachers or counselors for help. The first year at a new school can be kind of confusing because you don’t know the way everything works just yet. If you’re struggling with a class or with adjusting to high school, there is help available to you. There are writing labs and tutoring sessions you can go to after school or during mustang block to get a more one on one explanation of the things you’re learning in class. It also shows that you’re putting in the extra effort when you ask for help. And you can always make an appointment with a counselor if you are struggling with more than the material.?