freshman advice

Top 15 High School Freshman Advice

Think of a significant event in your life that you found stressful. Now, try to remember what you were thinking at that time. If you look back on it now, you may recall having some of these same questions as an 8th grader, moving on to high school. Wouldn’t it be nice if you received some freshman advice back then?

Of course, a lot has changed since you were in that position. The technology students use today, for example, has already begun to re-shape the classroom experience. 

Let’s talk about parenting advice on how to prepare for high school in this blog post whether you are enrolling them in private or public school.

Tip no. 1: Remind your freshman that they grow at their own pace.

The transition to high school means your freshman is going to encounter a lot of new people.

If your high schooler has a particular talent or skill that they feel is unique to them, they may be in for a shock when they find that there is at least one other person who seems to do it better. 

If you notice your high schooler’s dismay at this discovery, remind them that it’s not important what others are doing. What’s important is that they are setting goals for themselves and doing their best to reach them. They can always set more goals like learning a new language or joining the student government to develop leadership skills. They will be needing this advice to survive their first year of high school.

Tip no. 2: Teach them how to cultivate relationships.

Social interaction benefits your student’s psychological health, but it expands its network at an early age. It is never too early for your child to start building their network.

Follow these 2 steps:

  1. Ask your freshman if they’ve met anyone new.
  2. Suggest that they invite them over to study or for dinner

Continue to do this as your kid encounters new potential relationships. Being supportive and providing a comfortable place for these relationships to thrive will play more of a role than your teen may ever realize.

Tip no. 3: Help your freshman plan for a bright future

In their freshman year, your teen will start building the foundation for their college admissions, including their high school GPA. You may have your schedule dialed in by now, but high schoolers are generally not such great planners. So help your student develop a plan on how to prepare for high school!

1. Have them pick a goal for the year and the semester. 

These are goals that can’t be achieved in one step. For example, a semester (or “quarter” goal) might be “Apply to UC Berkeley”, and a year goal might be “Get accepted to UC Berkeley. “ 

2. To reach these goals, help them develop smaller, SMART goals.

Think of these goals as the stepping stones leading up to the bigger ones. The bigger goals (year and semester) won’t be achieved without these

3. Check-in with them regularly to see where they are at with their goals.

The process of breaking down big goals into baby steps can go on forever. The point is that your teenager will have actionable tasks to complete with an end goal in mind. 

Tip no. 4: Encourage your freshman to get involved

Extracurriculars are important for more than one reason.

  1. They help your student connect with other students.
  2. They cultivate interests in your student (this will help them decide what major and career they want to pursue).
  3. They are the cherry-on-top of your student’s college application.

Once you have a good idea of what motivates your teen, you can help them look for clubs and local organizations to get involved with.

Tip no. 5: Meet with their counselor

High school counselors and advisors’ job is to help your student succeed.

They can help you navigate tricky class schedules and give you helpful information for different exams your student will need to take, like the SAT or ACT.

  1. Look on the High School website to find contact information for their advising office.
  2. Call the office and set up an appointment that both you and your student can attend.

Before the meeting, sit down with your student and make a list of the questions you have for the advisor.

Bring the list with you and something to take notes with — this way, you won’t forget anything important, and you can make sure all your questions are answered!

Tip no. 6: Introduce your freshman to a thesaurus app

Have you ever been reading a book to find that at the end of a page, you can’t remember any of what you JUST read? 

It’s as if you were reading in your sleep! What happened was that your brain hit too many gaps in understanding. 

By introducing your child to one of many different thesaurus apps, they can get into a habit of looking up words they don’t understand, and they will struggle less in their studies as a whole.

Tip no. 7: Enroll your freshman in a course on digital citizenship

In today’s world, technology has become more and more integrated into our lives. However, we aren’t born with the knowledge of how to use it properly.

Because your student’s online identities and college admissions are affected by the things they post on social media and the internet, make sure they know how to navigate safely and responsibly online. This is another important thing to consider on how to prepare for high school.

Teaching Digital Citizenship is one free, online program that offers a self-paced, 1-hour course on the following topics:

  • Digital literacy & Ethics
  • Inappropriate Content
  • Online Sexual Solicitation
  • Online Privacy
  • Sexting
  • Cyberbullying

Not only is this course helpful for your student, but YOU can take it too.

Tip no. 8: Explain that emotional pain is normal

Since high schoolers are technically not grown up yet, they may experience significant emotional pain in their freshman year that they are not quite ready to face. Explaining that these things are normal would help them move on from it quickly.

For instance, if they had their first heartbreak, you could tell them that it is a natural part of growing up and that they will be able to find someone better. If they had a misunderstanding with their friends or classmates, remind them that life is not always easy and they really had to go through such stuff to learn.

It is also vital that you make them feel that they are not alone in facing all the emotional turmoil they experience in high school. Tell them that if they encounter problems, they can open up to you. This freshman advice is also a great way of keeping teens motivated.

Tip no. 9: Remind them not to take anything too seriously

When we are in high school, we think it should be the best year of our lives, that’s why we strive to fit in and make all our actions perfect. Because of this, when things go wrong, we take everything seriously and we let it affect us to the point that we can no longer function normally.

These are the things that should be discussed between parents and children who are already entering high school. As a parent, you should remind your high schooler not to take things too seriously unless it is a form of bullying that should be immediately reported. 

The thing about high school is, everyone is trying to establish their own identity so there are times that students won’t get along well because of varying perspectives and opinions.

This advice does not only apply in building relationships with others but also on academic or extracurricular failures. If ever your child has failed to a specific test, or were not able to perform well on a task, explain to him that there is still a lot of next time to make up for it.

Tip no. 10: Encourage them to take notes

If your child is not a good note-taker, you better start encouraging him to be one in their freshmen year of high school. By learning how to take notes of important facts that the teacher shares, their cognitive skills will be enhanced, and they will perform better on tests and other significant academic tasks.

This freshman advice is particularly useful in order to prepare for the SAT, which they will later take in high school.

Tip no. 11: Instill the importance of not slacking off

Some high schoolers think that they can slack off on their grades and make up for it later, so they spend their freshmen year doing all the fun unnecessary things they find cool. If your goal is to send your child to college, aside from learning some tips and tricks for the SAT, they will also need to start taking academics seriously to get a high GPA.

Teach your child to balance having fun and studying because it will benefit them in the end. College applications are becoming more and more demanding, so establishing their grades as well as their extracurriculars should already start in their freshman year in high school. Plus, if they want to land a merit scholarship, they should take their grades seriously. This is a piece of significant freshman advice since it maps out their future.

Tip no. 12: Point out that they don’t need to impress anyone

Some high school students could not fully enjoy their high school experience because they are too caught up on impressing everyone, from their classmates to their teachers, to their coach. Although this is okay at a certain level, going overboard and living their life for the sole purpose of gaining everyone’s approval will ruin their sense of self.

In high school and life in general, it is impossible to please everyone because there will always be people who think that they are the only being that matters and that everyone else is their subject. You should point out to your high schooler that the only person they should impress is themselves. This freshman advice will teach them how to focus on themselves more rather than the opinions of others.

Tip no. 13: Make them realize that they don’t need to change themselves to fit in

This tip is connected to tip no. 12 about impressing other people. While it is fine to change bad characteristics to become more favorable to others in their first year of high school, pretending to be someone you aren’t is a big mistake.

Remember those movies where a high school girl pretends to like what her friends like just to show to other people that she belongs to a group and she’s cool. Did the girl end up happy? Of course not. Happiness stems from learning one’s true self and by building one’s self-confidence. This is one of the essential things that you, as a parent, should impart to your high schooler.

Tip no. 14: Remind them to listen more than to speak

In the freshmen year of high school, it is always better to listen rather than speak because there is always a lot of mouths that quickly misinterpret what one says. This should be discussed with your child in order to avoid being dragged into fights and other unwanted issues.

It is alright to have them share their problems or personal secrets with their friends only if they are trustworthy. Too much high school drama is exhausting, which would hinder your child’s goal of getting good grades.

Tip no. 15: Take time to rest

Remind your child to rest and sleep because it is one of the primary requirements to be able to focus on their studies. If you can, talk to them about limiting social media use as well as going out with their friends late if they have upcoming tests or exams.

As a high school student, they are so excited to experience a lot of things all at once, but taking a break from all of it, it is also essential to self-reflect and, at the same time, to recharge.


So there you have it — 15 tips for freshmen year of high school that you can help orchestrate.

To review, the advice for high school freshman was:

  1. Remind your freshman that they grow at their own pace
  2. Cultivate their relationships
  3. Help them plan for a bright future
  4. Encourage them to get involved
  5. Meet with their counselor
  6. Introduce them to a Thesaurus App
  7. Enroll them in a course on digital citizenship
  8. Explain that emotional pain is normal
  9. Remind them not to take anything too seriously
  10. Encourage them to take notes
  11. Instill the importance of not slacking off
  12. Point out that they don’t need to impress anyone
  13. Make them realize that they don’t need to change themselves to fit in
  14. Remind them to listen more than to speak
  15. Take time to rest

Did we miss any advice for high school freshman that you noticed? What additional freshman advice might you give? Let us know in the comments below!

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!
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