14 Tips for Your First Day of High School

As this school year is coming to a close, everyone is starting to look forward to summer vacation – after all, what’s better than sleeping in, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and going on trips? However, counterintuitive as it may seem, June is also a good time to start thinking about and planning for next school year, especially if you are a grade eight student about to enter high school. Your first few days at your new school may seem overwhelming, so here are a few tips to make them as easy as possible:

1. Use the resources available to you! 

Some schools set up Edmodo accounts for their students before they actually start grade nine. If this is the case, you have a great opportunity to ask any questions that you may have and find helpful information, such as what you need to bring on the first day, when you will get your timetable, and what school supplies you will need. It is also a good idea to check your school website once or twice before school starts, since you may find important information regarding the schedule on the first day of school, or paperwork that you need to complete.

2. Print out a school map

Lots of schools will have printable floorplans on their websites. If you receive your timetable before the first day of school, use the map ahead of time to figure out the best way to get to and from your classes, and bring it with you for the first few days in case you get lost. If you don’t have your timetable before the first day, use the map to find your classes on the day of. This will save you time trying to find your way around and help to eliminate stress about getting lost. 

3. Take advantage of ‘first day of school’ activities

And don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your new school may have teachers and older students running first day activities for new grade nines. They are there to help you, so take the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have. Also, pay attention during your tours of the school, and landmark where you classes are. For instance, it will be much easier to remember where your geography class is if you know that the lockers nearby are red instead of blue.

4. Come prepared

If you received a list from your school, use it for reference. If not, make sure to bring an agenda, pencil case, your lunch, and a water bottle, as well as any paperwork required by the school. You might also want to wear comfortable shoes, since a good portion of your day may be spent taking tours of the school.

5. Don’t worry

Teachers understand that it’s easy to get lost. If you’re slightly late for class in the first few days, you probably won’t be the only one. That being said, do do your best to get to class on time, however, if worst comes to worst, just explain honestly to your teacher that you got lost on your way there.

6. Give yourself lots of time

A few extra minutes in the morning can be extremely helpful – you can organize your locker and anything that you need to bring to class that day, as well as give yourself extra time to get to your homeroom. This can help you stay on top of everything, and keep your space organized.

7. Get an agenda

It doesn’t have to be fancy, just somewhere for you to keep track of what you have to do. This will keep you from second-guessing your homework every night. It can also be very helpful in the first week to write down your schedule, teacher’s names (and which class they teach), and any other information that you need to keep track of.

8. Bring most of your stuff on the first day

You will likely have time on that day to set up your locker and organize your notebooks and binders. Use the time that you have so you don’t have to worry about it later. It is also a good idea to keep extra school supplies on hand. Having a stash of lined paper, pens, and pencils can make life easier that one day you happen to forget your pencil case or math notebook at home.

9. Bring a combination lock for your locker

Since you will likely have time to organize your locker, make sure you have a lock so that you can take advantage of this time. Your school may also sell locks to students. If you decide to purchase your own from outside of the school, invest in a good one. If you take good care of it, a lock can easily last you at least two or three years.

10. Stay organized from the very beginning

Having your notes and binders organized makes life easier for you, and being prepared for class every day gives a good impression. If you have semester long projects or assignments, get started on them early in the semester when you don’t have as much homework. Getting into the habit of staying organized early in the year will make it that much easier to do so later in the year, when you have more homework, assignments, and activities to contend with.

11. Keep your schedule handy

This can prevent mixups when you’re on your way to class, especially if your school operates on a rotating day schedule. There are several different ways you can go about doing this, including gluing a copy into your agenda or taking a photo and setting it as a background image on your phone. Having another copy in your locker can also be helpful.

12. Look into extracurriculars

If you hear about a group or team that you’re interested in, check it out. Lots of groups will offer ‘open’ meetings so that prospective members can come and see what the group is about before joining. This is a great way to find out about the extra opportunities available at your school.

13. Don’t be afraid to talk to your guidance counselor

If you end up with a timetable conflict, or you aren’t sure what courses you will need to take in the future, your guidance counselor is there to help you. They can also help you acquire elements of scholarship applications, such as your student transcript.

14. Relax

Although high school may seem terrifying at first, don’t worry. It won’t be long before you no longer have to worry about how to get from class to class, or what your locker combination is. Your grade nine year can be a great experience, so enjoy it!

Charlotte Lilley is a 2015 Young Scholar Award Finalist and a grade 9 student completing her International Studies Preparation courses, precursor to the globally recognized International Baccalaureate Programme. For the past two years, she has received grades of 100% in her music classes, as well as being the recipient of her school’s 2015 Music Award. Charlotte has her Theory One certificate, as well as her Practical Grades One and Five certificates (both with First Class Honours) in piano, from Conservatory Canada. 

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