Freshman High School Guide


Karolyn Maeda

Fellow peers share some words of advice to freshmen at UHS.

Nicole Chen, Staff Writer

With the first semester of this post-hybrid school schedule coming to a close, many freshmen at UHS have adjusted to their new environment and settled into a routine. While the transition from middle to high school has always been difficult, having to miss the formative experience of middle school to the mercy of the COVID pandemic is no small disadvantage. Thankfully, there is half of the student body to turn to for advice and numerous upperclassmen that are willing to help. For those anticipating the coming years, here are some words of advice from your fellow classmates.

While not all freshmen are considering AP and honors courses for their second year, many do choose to increase their workload and subsequently take more APs their junior and senior years. For underclassmen and upperclassmen alike, it’s important to find a balance between these courses and other priorities.

“Colleges mostly look at your unweighted GPA, so if you feel that you won’t be able to handle the challenge and workload, it’s better to have [higher grades] in some weighted and some normal classes instead of getting [lower grades] in all hard classes,” senior Sophia Lee said. “This is also really important for your mental health as well because I’ve seen a lot of my friends struggling because they’re taking 5-6 APs and their grades make their mindset even worse, so it’s just a perpetuating cycle.”

For those hesitant to take higher level classes or considering which ones would suit them, it’s highly encouraged that they do their own research beforehand on the course.

“Before enrolling in an AP class, make sure you watch Khan Academy; make sure you go to an out of school program to actually know what you’re going to get into. It’s good to have a little bit of context before diving into a class,” senior Rustin Khazravi said.

Outside of academics, many high achieving students at UHS strive to be consciously involved in extracurriculars that will help them get into colleges, while others tend to prioritize the high school experience. Either way, upperclassmen have stressed that it’s a good idea for everyone in their first two years of high school to try their hand at a multitude of activities. 

Exploring different interests early on will also set you to manage your time better, “so that when you’re busier in the future, you can prioritize certain clubs and make the most of your passions,” sophomore Elizabeth Choi said. 

While the term “get involved” is widely circulated at UHS, it often overlooks the anxiety that comes from trying new things.

“It can be scary to put yourself in a new environment,” senior Grace Jin said.  “But looking back on all the decisions I made throughout high school, I think I let my fear of failure deter me from taking advantage of some opportunities early on.”

Again, balance between interest and dedication proves to be crucial when it comes to activities outside of school. While students urged lower classmen to get involved, they also warned against committing to activities that do not excite you. 

“A lot of people at UNI believe that you have to craft your extracurriculars solely for college applications, but the best assortment of extracurriculars come from doing what you love,” senior Sol Choi said. “There’s no need to miserably go through an extracurricular you hate just because you think it’ll help you for college.”  

And with school events back in full swing, it’s a great time to embrace these activities and experience all that high school has to offer, many of which were forcibly taken from students during the most acute part of the pandemic. 

“Go to any dancing event, any football game, basketball games, tailgates, and spirit night. If you’re just too embarrassed to go because you want to look cool in front of your friends, screw that—I say go all out,” Khazravi said.

I certainly didn’t know a year and a half of my high school experience was going to be taken from me due to COVID, so take advantage of the opportunities you have to find people and activities you love,” senior Simona Forster said.

“You don’t need to reach your peak in high school or become who you know you can be one day at just seventeen or eighteen,” junior Aniyah Shen said. “UHS emphasizes academic excellence and that is something you shouldn’t take for granted, but also remember to enjoy the experience. Hug your friends, cry, laugh, make mistakes, fail a test, go to dances, take classes you want to take […] be proactive in making the memories you want to make.”