By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hwang: Surviving freshman year
Placeholder Image

My middle school years were full of academic achievement and my trophy collection stayed well fed. But those years went by in the blink of an eye, and when eighth grade rolled around, I had to make the first of many important decisions: Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology or Heritage High School.

After a very long debate with myself, I started my freshman year in the fall of 2011 at the Rockdale Magnet School.
While I had been a stellar student in middle school, I soon learned that it no longer mattered. I was terrified of the workload and the confusing hallways of high school - and I learned that I had every right to be.

On the first day, my friends and I were on our way to literature and we were 20 minutes late, only to learn that we had passed the classroom more than six times.

That afternoon, I came home exhausted. My backpack was heavy and I had plenty of work to do. I sat down at my desk determined to tackle it all when my phone lit up with a Facebook notification. For the next hour, I talked to friends on Facebook, watched YouTube videos and texted my middle school friends. By the time I had put everything away, it was dark outside and I hadn't even written my name on the first assignment. I panicked and worked on getting it done as I battled exhaustion. Never before had I stayed up so late trying to get work done.

Staying up late caused me to have a hectic morning. All of my textbooks, binders and pencils were on my desk from the night before. Once again, I panicked and shoved everything into my backpack and ran out the door.

I spent that year struggling to keep up with the work load. Even after I got rid of the distractions, there were times when I still had to work really hard to get through all of the work.

Some things that I wish I had known were:

Avoid being late to classes on the first day. For high school and middle school students, learn how to get from class to class during open house or get a map of the school. For elementary school students, learn how to get from the bus unloading area or car unloading area to class during open house. This will decrease confusion on the first day.

Review every night. Studying your notes from each class every night prevents last minute cram sessions for tests and quizzes. This also helps in retaining new information.
n Manage time wisely. The last thing you want to do after getting back from school or practice is sit down for an additional hour or two to complete homework. While playing video games and surfing the web is tempting, they are not always the best options. Don't do it! Completing assignments immediately after school can prevent all-nighters, panic, stress and bad grades. Give yourself a treat at the end of the night to reward yourself for finishing your homework.

Pack the night before. Packing all materials necessary prevents rushing in the morning, which usually leads to leaving something out.

Use the agenda. Juggling multiple classes can be very difficult and remembering the assignments from each class can also be hard. Writing everything down will reduce the chances of forgetting to complete an assignment. As you complete each assignment, cross it off from your agenda

Get rid of distractions. Every minute counts and should be used wisely. Distractions take away from your concentration. Decide what you want to focus on this semester and what can wait for later semesters.

Elizabeth Hwang is a rising junior in the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology.