POV of a Senior: Advice for Underclassmen

Mary Beth Johnson

When I first started high school, I had no idea what was in store for me. From navigating my way through the old building freshman year to going virtual for almost half of my high school experience, I feel qualified enough to offer some advice to my younger peers and my younger self. Here are five things I wish I knew before I started high school.

1. People like to talk.

No matter who you are and no matter how much you say you will not gossip, you probably will at some point. There are going to be rumors spread in every grade, true or not, and it is important to try to protect yourself from the gossip and rumors as much as possible. To put it simply, do not share your deepest darkest secrets with your Algebra 1 table. I know it sounds simple, rumors can ruin high school for people. 

2. Take care of yourself.

I know, obviously. But especially since the pandemic, mental health is at an all-time low  (according to the Surgeon General Advisory on Mental Health) for a lot of people, and it can be hard to find the motivation to take care of your body’s basic needs, much less focus on homework and studying. Finding routines that work with your brain is one of the best ways to get in the habit of doing things that make you feel good. For example, making lists or creating a morning routine that you stick to every day can be wonderful tools to improve both physical and mental health. 

3. Studying actually works.

I know this is not what you want to hear, but studying can reduce your stress when it comes to exams and in turn, help improve your grades. Now, if you are like me and you work at a job all the time, it can be hard to balance school, a social life, and a job all at once, but I promise it is possible. For me, scheduling time to study has been a game-changer and has gotten me into college, if that says anything. To add to that, studying should not be stressful, and if it is, that means something has gone wrong. Doing what you can knowing that your work is not going to be perfect is the best advice I have in terms of studying. 

4. Not everyone is going to like you, and that is okay!

Before I started high school, I attended a small Catholic school in Madison. Everyone knew everyone and there were not many issues between students. The jump from a 20-student class to a 500-student class was a little jarring and made me realize that just due to the sheer number of students, there would be issues between people no matter what. As long as you are authentically you in all the good ways, you can relax knowing that you are there for yourself always, and it does not matter what other people think. This also becomes easier to accept with age, and it takes time to become okay with yourself. Give yourself grace as you navigate this weird, drama-filled, stressful, and fun time in your life. 

5. Please, for the sake of your peers’ sanity and your personal safety, do not walk slowly in the hallways!

Since we just got back to school this year, it is understandable that many of us forgot hallway etiquette, but luckily I am here to remind you! In the halls, please pay attention, do not be on your phone, and whatever you do, do not stop walking in the middle of a crowded hallway. I understand that it can be fun to talk with your friends in the halls, but it is also really frustrating to be stuck behind a group of five taking up the whole hallway while you are trying to get to class. Just be mindful of your peers and do not get in anyone’s way! 


High school is a wild ride, and I hope some of this advice resonates. I certainly wish I had someone to show me the ropes when I first started, but everything happens for a reason, and I think that has helped me become the person I am today. To all the freshmen out there: I promise it gets better. School gets harder, but life gets better.