Opinion – The Freshman Struggle: my transition coming into high school

Risha Chada | Staff Writer

 It’s a sink or swim world. Or, at least, that’s how freshman year felt. 

Going from middle school, the peak time for coddling and complete unpreparedness for the real world, to high school, where you’re told colleges look at everything, is a huge transition, and one that I, as well as many others, were completely unprepared for.

I had a lot on my plate last year, or at least “for a freshman.” I took all honors classes, had a rigorous tennis schedule, doubled up on biology and chemistry, and threw in an AP class for the fun of it. What I didn’t realize was that high school was the place where study guides died. Where retakes no longer existed. Where teachers plotted against you to ensure your demise. 

Okay, the last one was a bit of an exaggeration, but still, there was no transition and I was sinking.

The tests themselves were harder in high school. For one, there was no “if you don’t finish it now you can finish it next time.” 

Yes, that’s right. 

Believe it or not, in middle school, you could get longer than a class period for a test. Now, as I had just come from middle school, I was utterly hopeless when it came to pacing. The other issue was that I never quite knew what was going to be on the test. I mean, I paid attention in class and did the problems, but in the past, test questions were virtually the exact same, just with different numbers or scenarios. But, unbeknownst me, I was expected to actually understand the concept and apply it to different situations.

And, of course, AP classes are on another level entirely. I had to do hours of work per night, a notion that was completely foreign to me, someone who had never found reason to actually study. 

Throughout elementary and middle school, I glided through my classes. I never studied for more than two hours and did nothing past the bare minimum—a study guide, or even a teacher-made Quizizz at the most. 

So here I was, sitting in a classroom being told I had to read a textbook and take a quiz on the material. I was out of my depth. How can anyone read straight facts from a textbook—on which the light always seemed to glare right on the words, might I add—and be expected to retain the information? The trick, I eventually learned, was a combination of painstaking notes, Khan Academy videos, and Quizlets. But, as I hadn’t yet made that discovery, I resorted to memorizing facts instead of deriving information—a little distinction that makes a huge difference on AP tests.

The transition from high school to middle school was a challenge, and it was mainly because I had no clue how to study. It was a skill I had to learn for myself, and I’m guessing many others did as well. 

But, if you’re anything like me, a course on how to study would be the first thing to sign up for.