September is upon us! The air is crisp, the lockers are relatively clean, and the leaves are falling with no particular direction, not unlike a new freshman in their first month at Lakeside. There’s no avoiding the inevitable: if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up late to English class. Or, you’ll leave your phone on the other side of campus. You might even end up jacketless in the freezing library (or all of the above in the same week). But do not despair, young readers! I, an incredibly knowledgeable and self-assured sophomore, have arrived with the secrets to success.
Firstly, free periods. Thankfully, after spending a summer in biology class, I had learned to utilize my extra time effectively, so I didn’t have nearly as much homework when I left campus. But using your time wisely doesn’t have to mean studying until your eyes hurt. I advise you to take what you need from your free time. Check in with yourself. Grab a snack or a drink (on a cold day, a homemade WCC mocha is just the pick-me-up I need). Whether you’re an extrovert or not, take the time to socialize with friends old and new. Though it might not seem like anyone at Lakeside thinks this, I can’t stress it enough: self-care is productivity, even if it means you’re not getting actual work done for a little while.
Academics are still important, though, and when you start at Lakeside, it’s easy to underestimate them. I got a C-minus on one of my first major projects last fall, and I was shocked. In fact, I thought I’d gone above and beyond — I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a color-coded poster? But in actuality, I’d failed to clarify some crucial requirements on the rubric. I couldn’t be bothered to meet with my teacher outside of class to make sure I understood the material. Your teachers are there to help you, and I promise they have your best interest at heart, no matter how harsh of a grader you think they are. It’s always better to put in the work now and save yourself from a bad grade later.
That being said, grades aren’t always indicative of your learning, and I wish Lakesiders could be a little easier on themselves in this regard. Please get some sleep instead of staring at your computer screen until your vision blurs, rereading notes on things you don’t really need to know. An A-minus is not the end of the world. Your quarterly grades won’t end up on your final transcript. And at the end of the day, the most important part of school isn’t your grades, it’s what you learn. Too often, we can’t make that distinction.
Another really important part of school is your social life. Obviously, you should make friends. You should be kind and friendly to everyone you meet! But specifically, it helps to have a companion or two in each of your classes. They’re someone you chat with during breaks, walk with to your next class, and exchange contact information so you can clarify what exactly the homework was. Additionally, I highly recommend joining a club, sport, or other Lakeside organization to meet upperclassmen. They really do know what they’re doing, and as long as you trust them to a certain extent, you can take advantage of their drivers’ licenses.
It can be scary to be suddenly launched into a new environment. Maybe you’re feeling like you won’t fit in, or you’re intimidated by the hours of homework you’ve been promised. But just remember that hundreds of students who’ve walked these linoleum floors have felt the exact same way. You’re now a part of the community, and you’re not alone.