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Open Letter to High School Freshmen

Me and my freshman brother.
Dear High School Freshmen,

            High school isn’t scary, confusing, or intimidating. It’s the four years of rapid change and growth that are going to surprise you. Four years isn’t really that much time compared to the rest of your life, and in these four years you’re expected to start as an innocent, young teenager who doesn’t really understand how the real world works and become an adult who is ready to face the world with your intellect, communication skills, and work ethic. That’s a lot to learn in a little amount time.

            I have not learned everything there is to know about life, but I do know what I wish someone would have told me as I entered those scary four years.

            Learn to Learn. You’re not just in school to learn vocab words, calculus equations, and the proper way to not explode the chemistry lab. Learn to teach yourself by reading. Learn not to accept the obstacles presented by questions. Learn how to find the answers. Learn how to get excited about uncovering solutions yourself. When you leave high school, you will not know everything, but if you retain the ability to learn, you will succeed.

          Every teacher is going to kill me, but don’t strive for good grades. Work your butt off for your best. Grades are a necessary part of school, but the moment you become emotionally attached to a letter, you set yourself up to fail in the future. Once you leave high school, you go either to college or to work. In college, grades are a lot different. In work, there are no grades. Make your standard your best, not a grade. If your best is a C, than do everything you can to get that C. If your best is an A, then do everything you can to get that A. Don’t become content with a passing grade if you could be excelling, and don’t pass over the chance to challenge yourself. With this mindset, it will be easier to put aside ill feelings for a classmate with different grades than you. When you strive for your best, you also gain the respect of your teachers. No teacher’s job is to make everyone an A student, nor are any out to make everyone fail. They want your best. Give it to them.

            There is going to be a lot of pressure to enter a relationship, but don’t look for your worth in a boyfriend or girlfriend. They do not define your worth. Your worth is defined by the value God places on each and every one of us. Don’t confuse the value your boyfriend or girlfriend puts on you with the value that God instilled in you before you were even born. He sent his son to die for you. That makes you pretty valuable. Most relationships in high school exist to alleviate the desire to feel wanted and special. Everyone feels this at some point, but if you use a boyfriend or girlfriend as the way to satisfy that desire, you’re going to make stupid decisions. Use those relationships as a way to get to know people better and a stepping-stone for marriage, not to find your worth.

            Value friendships, but don’t ignore your family. Put time and effort to building strong friendships with your family. Choose to support an older sibling in an activity or hobby of theirs. Mentor your little siblings. Respect your parent’s decisions, and ask them for advice. Choose to love them no matter what. You may be more inclined to spend the majority of time with your friends, but your family deserves more attention. Make your family a priority, not just some people you’re stuck with. Show them the kindness you would show a friend you desperately want to stay friends with. If things start to fall apart in life, you will want your family’s support and love.

            Think before you speak. Your words can be deadly. They can kill relationships and other’s respect for you. Always try to say things in a positive light. Don’t make fun of other’s mistakes. Never speak ill of a teacher. Don’t lie. Stop gossip. Keep a secret. If you don’t know something, don’t make excuses. Say, “I don’t know, but I can find out.” Learn to say, “thank you,” even if you did the helping. Don’t pretend to know what you’re talking about if you don’t. Texting makes spitting out words so easy that you will often forget to think. Most phones will even put words in your mouth with their “suggestions.” Stop. Think. There is no class in high school that will focus on learning what to say, what to keep a secret, what to bring to the attention to an authority. There should be. This may be one of the greatest things you can learn that will help you the rest of your life.

          If you do anything in high school, find what you love. Don’t grab that diploma without any idea of what you love to do and where you can possible go after graduation. Take new experiences as a way to experiment to see if that’s something you like. Don’t hurry through assignments just to get them over with. Take advantage of the time to learn if that’s something you’d want to do more of. I’ve seen too many of my peers go into a field because they were “good at it” rather than because they enjoyed it. If you love something enough, you can find a job for it. Go to college to learn what you want to learn, but first you have to find out in high school what you love to learn.

          This coming year is the year you move from being the oldest to the youngest in perhaps the most dramatic fashion. Entering freshmen year might start out smooth, but it’s easy to lose control. Take my words seriously. This isn’t a step by step instruction to becoming popular. I never was. Take the things I’ve said here to learn the most you can in the next four years and succeed in the many years to come.

            ~ Alyson Schroll, age 17



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