A Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Give Advice to Freshmen

%28Left+to+right%29+Madeline+Yu%2C+Mary+Manching%2C+Nicolas+Kubiak
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A Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Give Advice to Freshmen

(Left to right) Madeline Yu, Mary Manching, Nicolas Kubiak

(Left to right) Madeline Yu, Mary Manching, Nicolas Kubiak

Iliana Garner

(Left to right) Madeline Yu, Mary Manching, Nicolas Kubiak

Iliana Garner

Iliana Garner

(Left to right) Madeline Yu, Mary Manching, Nicolas Kubiak

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As a new wave of freshmen join the Northside community, upperclassmen around the school are reminded of their own humble roots. When looking back on freshman year, upperclassmen remember the confusion and apprehension they felt coming into a new school. Many are able to recall those awkward freshman days. Perplexed by the block schedule, afraid of the homework load, and struggling to establish a name for themselves in a new environment. Although freshman year may have been difficult for some, no one can deny that it was a growing experience that prepared students for their years of high school to come.

By reflecting on freshman year, students are able to see how much they have grown since the very first day of school. In sharing stories about their freshman years, upperclassmen are also able to communicate advice to their younger peers. It is important for students to reflect on their past for both those reasons. Senior Madeline Yu (Adv. 000) junior Mary Manching (Adv. 108) and sophomore Nicolas Kubiak (Adv. 207) recall their freshman year in the following interview:

What expectations did you hold before coming to Northside? Did you hear anything positive or negative?

Yu:
I heard the students were stressed and the classes were hard. I was also expecting a heavier course load than I had in the past, which worried me a bit.

Kubiak:
It’s an expectation that we’d have to do more work than we’re used to, which didn’t hold up freshman year, but it was still a fair amount of work. [I also heard] that the classes would be a lot harder, which I would have to agree with. Especially the way the tests were weighed, that was something I wasn’t used to.

Manching:
I was scared to come to Northside because I had heard about how competitive it is. I was also [worried] about not being able to fit in, not knowing where I’m going, and looking like a complete fool. Once I came into high school, though, it was not as bad as it seemed.

What was your first week of freshman year like? How did you feel before coming to school, and did you feel after it was over?

Yu:
I was mostly worried about meeting people and making friends because I only knew two other girls from my school who were coming to Northside. During the first week, my classes weren’t too hard yet. We did a lot of name games, and the teachers were friendly. I was really proud of myself because I didn’t get lost at all.

Kubiak:
Well, I did not know anybody. I didn’t talk to as many [other] freshmen as I would have wanted to. I did have a few classes with a few of my [old] classmates. That helped me transition into talking to new people and making new friends.

Manching:
Because of the retreat and orientation, we had some time to come to school and get ourselves adjusted, so I had an idea about what the environment I was going to be in looked like. I was still relatively scared the first class, but I walked into World Studies with Ms. Searcy and she [told us not to] be afraid to make mistakes or reach out to your teachers. That first class made me feel less scared. [In terms of workload] it was definitely a drastic change. At my old school I had time to study more if I wanted to, but [at Northside] I had less time to look more into what I learned in class.

What was the hardest part of adjusting to Northside?

Yu:
Not procrastinating as much. In grammar school, I couldn’t [procrastinate] because my homework was always due the next day. At Northside, I was definitely up late on Wednesday nights and Sunday nights getting it done. [Procrastinating] may have worked freshman year, but this year it has been harder with my Advanced Placement classes.

Kubiak:
The block schedule was weird but it wasn’t the worst thing to adjust to. The harder parts to adjust to was the large amount of travel per class but that got a lot easier with our longer passing periods. The way that lunches work, where I could go anywhere [around the school] means that I didn’t know where friends were and I felt lost for a couple of days.

Manching:
I think in general that [Northside] was a new environment. I knew nobody and allowing myself to reach out to other people and be comfortable in class was hard for me. Coming into a new environment, you feel insecure. Knowing my place, what I’d be able to say, and reaching out to other people was a huge adjustment for me. People [also] always told me to get into college I would have to get into a lot of extracurriculars. For me, understanding where to start and what resources [Northside] offered was difficult.

How was your first finals week?

Yu:
I was really stressed about finals because I didn’t know what they were. We never had finals [in my grammar school]. We had report cards every quarter but there was never a big test going into it. The teachers tried to explain finals, but I feel like you don’t really get a grasp of what a final is until you go in and do it. Freshman year, the pace for all of my courses was more manageable.

Kubiak:
Finals were nerve-wracking for [some of] my harder classes. As I actually got to the tests, they were easier than I was expecting and I did fairly well on them, so I didn’t have much basis for my nervousness.

Manching:
Finals were a lot because in middle school they didn’t require me to remember everything for more than that unit. I actually keep my notes from previous years but, even so, it was a lot to go back through the year. I was worried that I wouldn’t memorize everything because it was so new and I didn’t know which study methods to use.

How did you feel about freshman year coming out of it?

Yu:
Coming out of [freshman year], I was really happy with my grades and how I did. I had friends, which was a big relief because that was one of the things I was stressed about. Looking back on it, it gets harder from freshman year. Freshman year is a nice transition from grammar school to high school but [when] you hit sophomore year, it gets worse.

Kubiak:
I felt good about freshman year. I made more friends than I ever had in my life. I feel that that was an experience that I needed to have. Freshman year helped me get to know a lot of new people which I wouldn’t have had the chance to get to know otherwise.
Manching:
Northside does a good job of giving special attention to the freshmen. [Teachers and administration] understand that this is a new environment, and they make freshmen want to love Northside with the special attention they give them. The support and attention they gave us freshman year made me feel comfortable in the Northside community.

If you were to change anything about your freshman year, what would you do?

Yu:
I wish I would have discovered [more clubs] sooner. Knowing more about [sports’ commitment] going into freshman year would have helped. I believe I’m doing pretty well, even though I’m a relatively new member in some of my clubs.

Kubiak:
I would have had more chances to join clubs and hang out with my friends after school. It wasn’t something I was able to do last year and I missed out on quite a lot [because of] it.

Manching:
I would develop better time management habits when I still could. Freshman year, I had a lot of time and I did not always use it wisely. Especially finals, I didn’t know what hit me. Developing those time management habits when I still had time would have helped me where I am today. Also, getting more involved in other extracurriculars.

What advice do you have for this year’s incoming freshmen?

Yu:
Freshman year is a great year to experiment. If you want to join a sport, you can always do that at any point, especially at Northside. Freshman year is not the year to overschedule yourself, though. If you’re interested in something, give it a try. You can always drop it. You have three more years to try other things.

Kubiak:
Focus on your schoolwork but don’t focus on it so much that you become a shut-in. Find time with friends and new people, find time to socialize after school. It’s a valuable experience that I didn’t get to have [my] freshman year and I feel like it’s worth sacrificing time after school for friends.

Manching:
Don’t be afraid to reach out. It’s scary to be in a new environment and people [understand] that. But it’s also important to establish your place in the school and reach out. Communication is both ways. If you’re blocking yourself out, no one is going to come through to you. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You need to be proactive in reaching out for help. Try as much as you can to avoid the competitive environment, don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is doing their own thing and you are going to develop and progress at your own pace. Don’t be afraid to join extracurriculars even if you don’t think it’s something you’re going to pursue because the more you explore, the more you can figure out what you’re into.