By Jovani Alejandro Contreras and Rosie Esteverena
Rosie and I are both seniors at Summit Prep. Together, we decided to write down the advice that we would give to our freshman year selves. Using our combined experience at Prep, we came up with eight essential tips that all Summit freshman should know.
1) Find a (real) mentor
This one might be hard to hear, so your mentor most likely falls under one of these three categories:
- Is an overworked teacher who can’t fully support you because they’re teaching two other classes and are severely underpaid
- Has not been properly trained to emotionally support adolescents and is not ready to be your therapist
- Will be gone by next year*
Summit sells this idea that students will get a 1:1 mentorship for all four years of high school. Or at least that’s what I thought. You will soon learn that mentor groups are not created equal. Some of you will have a great mentor who you will have a great relationship with, but others will have a new mentor every year. Don’t blame your overworked mentor for leaving, blame the system.
However, there is a slim chance you might have a loving and understanding mentor for all four years. If you do, you are extremely lucky. Cherish them.
High School is stressful. Find a trusted adult in your life that you can talk to.
*Summit Public Schools (Prep specifically) has a super high teacher turnover rate. Don’t believe me? Ask any senior.
2) Get involved
Freshman year can be scary, you may not know many people or feel anxious to put yourself out there. One easy way to get involved at Summit is to join one of the many clubs we have to offer. This is also a great way to build relationships with teachers and staff.
Freshman year is your year to experiment. Join that new club*, play that sport and sign up for that after school activity you saw on the hallway poster.
Who are you? Who do you want to be? Highschool, freshman year especially, is all about exploring yourself. Find your passion, or if you already have one, do things that will help you develop that passion.
Another great way to get involved is through sports. If you are interested in playing soccer, running track, or running cross country, joining a sports team is one of the best ways to make friends with similar interests.
My point: Try everything. Don’t be afraid to meet new people and do new things, the worst thing you could do is not try. You will regret it.
*Don’t just join clubs because “they’ll look good on your college application” They won’t. Join a club that you’re genuinely interested in, pursuing a real passion for your own interest will always look great on applications. So don’t feel like you HAVE to be in Student Senate even though you hate it (no one actually likes student senate)
3) Beat the line
At its core, the Summit Platform is very simple, all you have to do is complete your checkpoints and contents (power focus areas and additional focus areas) on pace with “the line” This moving line on your platform sets the timeline for all your due dates, and unless your teacher changes the course, you will know all your deadlines for the entire year.
It’s easy to lose track of the line. Even if the line passes a project or content and your platform turns red, you can always do it later right? Well, yes. In my experience, this is a major flaw in the Summit Learning Platform because it allows, and in some ways creates, habits of procrastination that will doom you in college.
A lot of freshmen start off the year great, they speed through a few contents, turn in their first checkpoints on time and even pass some additionals for that extra grade boost. But once that mid-late year slump hits, they take their foot off the pedal. You start hearing, “a few reds don’t matter” and “I’ll just revise this project later” While these sayings are technically true, developing a taste for procrastination and not enforcing your own deadlines will hurt you in a college environment.
Try to have self-discipline. Try to stay ahead of the line. Doing this will only help you once you get to college. A good way to plan out your time effectively is to keep a planner or calendar, write due dates and specific class details to keep turning your work in early all year long.
Another good tip is to write down the dates of when the line passes important contents in a google doc or notebook. Push yourself to beat that slow moving line of death… I mean deadlines
You will thank yourself at the end of the year when you can relax and participate in the many fun end of year activities.
Editor’s Note: Managing your time throughout the ENTIRE year is important and will help you not only in high school, but in college and beyond.
5) You get out what you put in
During my freshman year at Summit, my mentor saw that I wasn’t putting in my best effort to participate or make friends and she told me, “You get out what you put in.” If you don’t try or put in any effort to make friends, build relationships or be successful in your school work, you won’t receive these things out of nowhere. You can’t expect to not pay attention in class and then walk out understanding the material.
It is important to be open minded, kind, and to be yourself. People will love the real you and you will get more out of your high school experience. It is understandable that you won’t be friends with everyone but if you walk in everyday ready to try your best and be kind, you will receive the same effort in return.
Editor’s note: Be kind, open minded and try your best!
6) Don’t cheat on ALL your contents
This tip is quite simple. Every senior in the Summit Public School system has either cheated on or helped someone cheat on a content assessment. You can’t blame us, content assessments are extremely repetitive. Completing power focus areas and additionals will not prepare you for college. Seriously, contents are actually mind numbing (especially when they have nothing to do with what you’re learning in class) Not to mention, you can retake contents as many times as you want, so hypothetically you could just take the content 10 times and memorize the questions.
With all that said, don’t cheat on ALL the contents. Put your phone away and study for a couple of important contents, maybe even watch the playlists and take some notes. Self studying and note taking will help you in the long run. I know how tempting it could be to speed run content assessments and just blow through them with a trusty phone in hand, you know, photo math and all those other fun apps. But don’t let this sad excuse for a curriculum drag you down. If you truly and wholeheartedly want to succeed in a college environment you need to practice studying and effective note taking.
7) Don’t skip class!
It seems obvious that you shouldn’t cut class, but it is even more important at Summit because you won’t run out of work to do. Even if you have completed your projects, all your checkpoints and the corresponding contents, you can always get an upper hand on the next project. Take notes for the next content, try some additionals, skim or even start working on the next project. A lot of freshmen may overlook the importance of getting ahead but it can be really helpful. Even just reading the overview of your next content or project will help you be more successful throughout the year. So when you think you’re done and could skip math class today, remember that still attending class will help you and will show your teacher the effort that you are putting into your school work.
Editor’s note: Use free time in class to check in 1 on 1 with your teacher and get help if you need it or go over your work to make sure you understand the content!
(No husky left behind) – If you have finished everything you need to do for the day, help a fellow husky complete their checkpoint or encourage them to try a content.
8) Keep it moving and do not group up in the hallways*
Keep it moving, don’t group up in the hallways. Just trust me on this one.
*Summit Prep specific
Featured Image (at the top of the post): Imprint 2; Verse, Library of Congress PHOTO CREDIT: Picryl