How to survive high school: advice from a senior to the class of 2021

Penn High School can seem like a daunting and impossible new wall to climb. With nearly 5 times the number of students as Grissom, Schmucker, or Discovery, it’s easy to assume that Penn is a pretty scary obstacle. But I promise, after a few weeks in this new pond, you won’t feel like a fish out of water.

There’s tons of things that I wish someone had told me in 2013, when I was a freshman. Here are a few of those things.

1. Penn isn’t as big as it seems.
Sure, there’s nearly 1,000 kids in every graduating class. Sure, there’s a lot more hallways to recognize. Sure, you might get lost once or twice in your first few weeks. But the school is really just a great big grid. Once you’ve mastered the major hallways (like Sunshine and the common area), you’ll be finding your way around in no time.

2. You probably won’t get ran over.
Whether you’re 6’2″ or 5′ nothing, nobody wants to get knocked over in the hallways. In my four years at Penn, I never saw it happen. By now, after 3 years in middle school, you’re all probably starting to get good at “crowd weaving.” By 2021, you’ll be a crowd weaving master: unstoppable and untouchable. Just keep your bags close and your eyes off of your phone, and you’ll be totally in the clear.

3. It is usually not worth it to use your locker.
Sometimes you get lucky and your assigned locker is right in the middle of all of your classes. But the majority of the time, your locker is way too out of the way to be useful. My freshman year, on my very first day of school, I put a jacket in my locker to have if I ever got cold. I never used it, because I never had time to stop at my locker. On the last day of the year, when I took it out, I had outgrown the jacket.

4. You’ll find your niche.
Don’t have any classes with your middle school friends? That’s totally okay! You’re likely not the only one in your class that doesn’t know who to sit with. It’s okay to introduce yourself to the people around you and find things in common. I met my best friend in my freshman biology class, and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

5. Join a club, extracurricular, or a sport.
There are so many opportunities at Penn. Try out for a sport, take a dance class, or join the knitting and crocheting club, just because you can. You’ll meet so many new and incredible people, and they’ll likely share your interests. There is an unlimited number of organizations at Penn to be a part of, there is bound to be one that interests you. If not, find a sponsor teacher and start your own!

6. Yes, your freshman grades matter.
Though it seems so far away, colleges will someday look at your freshman year grades. They will follow your for 4 whole years via your cumulative GPA, and you want to set yourself up now for success instead of failure.

7. It will get worse before it gets better.
High school is a crazy ride. Sometimes, things don’t turn out the way you want them to. Sometimes, they do. It’s incredibly important to remember that things will always take a turn for the better. Eventually. You just have to ride it out with patience and an open mind.

Best of Luck,

A member of the class of 2017