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“This is NOTHING like High School Musical”: How to navigate through high school your first year

Picture: Teen Vogue

If you’ve ever looked through any Marin Catholic yearbook at the senior quotes, nine times out of ten there is a High School Musical quote in there every year. It would be great if that was how high school went; people singing in the halls and breaking out into random dances. Or teachers not caring that students are having full blown dance battles and leaving their classes whenever they want. Let me just say this now: high school is nothing like the musical. Now that I’ve likely dismantled some of your expectations, I’m here to tell you what really goes on and give you a general idea of what high school will be like, and most importantly, how to navigate your first year at MC.

First off, freshman year is about exploring. The most important thing you need to do is get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Use this time to try out new things; explore what you like and what you don’t. Find a group of friends that you could hang out with. These people likely won’t be your friends through all four years, but find other people to get through freshman year with. Think about the kinds of classes you want to take. Do you want to load up on rigorous classes, or take it easy? Freshman year is the perfect time to test the waters and sample what MC has to offer. Think of freshman year as a membership trial. You can sample things and figure out what you like with little to no risk.You have a safety net your freshman year, and that is the fact that everyone else in your grade is figuring out what to do just like you. Everyone else is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. So take advantage and explore what MC has to offer.

As you explore and go about freshman year however, don’t get used to the way things are. They will change, but that’s just life. As you continue through high school, everything will shift: your habits, your friends, your success; take it from me. Life will throw so many different things at you, but that is okay. As long as you know how to bounce back, you will be perfectly fine. Surround yourself with people who can lift you up or even relate to the changes you are going through. Lean on your counselor. Yes. It is their job to talk to you about how school is going and about how you are handing the change. Do NOT wait until your senior year to get to know your counselor. They are such a good outlet to talk to, especially when you find yourself swimming upstream without a lifejacket.

When you came to MC or even when you looked at MC, we probably sounded like a broken record, repeating things like: “Use CATS” or “Manage your time” or “Get involved”. I will tell you right now, these things are only worth repeating because they have been proven successful. Take it from me. I was drowning sophomore year when life threw an unexpected curveball at me. I did not set realistic goals for myself at the beginning of the year and ended up being overwhelmed with school and extracurriculars all while battling a health condition. That moment is when I wished I had listened to everything that everyone kept telling me. And when I realized that I was about to go over the edge, I walked myself up to my counselor’s office and told him I was drowning. That is when he gave me the best nugget of advice that kept me afloat. He told me to know my limits. So I want to pass that onto you. Know your limits. Even though I am telling you to explore and to push yourself out of your comfort zone and to get involved, the one thing I want you to remember above all else is to know your limits. When you set boundaries for yourself, you can push yourself to your limit, without pushing yourself off the edge.

The only way I can tell you about these things is through the trial and error of my years here at Marin Catholic. Yes, some times have been rough, but with the support that this school provides, it hasn’t been anything I can’t handle. MC gives us the resources to fly through high school easy peasy, so use them. Only you can shape the way your time at MC goes and that begins with putting yourself out there. The “high school experience” doesn’t come to you. You have to make the most of your highschool experience. So as you start your journey at this school, I hope you take some advice to help keep you afloat. And when you think that you are the only one who may be struggling to swim, just remember, 

“We’re all in this together”.

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