Five Things Every Freshman Should Know: My Parting Advice

As the seniors finish out their final classes at the high school, Joe Freihofer reflects on his four years and the most important things he believes every freshman should know.


Joe Freihofer, Sports Reporter

Summarizing my four years spent at Forest Hills Central is a difficult thing to do. I have met so many incredible people, had my life altered for the better, and discovered things about myself that I never dreamed I could do. It is all coming to a close in the next few days, and the thought of no longer being a high school student is the most liberating, yet terrifying feeling in the world. We are saying goodbye to all of the late night cramming for tests, the brutal papers on topics that we have no interest towards, and the endless homework assignments. Yet, we are parting ways with our childhoods, saying goodbye to those who have selflessly helped us through the journey, and leaving behind all that we know in order to find our ultimate purpose in life. Scary, I know. There are many things that I’ve learned in my time as a Ranger and I’ve decided to compile them into five major points that I think will really help the young freshmen who will walk in through the double doors on that cool September morning as I once did.

1: Branch out to those around you, including teachers and coaches.

I know that as a freshman, teachers, upperclassmen, and pretty much anyone you encounter throughout a day can seem kind of scary; it’s so easy to go about every day just walking to class with your head down and never really interacting with anyone outside of your friend group; however, the best thing to do is to reach out and talk to the people around you. I have had some incredible teachers and coaches, and gotten to know some classmates that I wish I had gotten to know better when I was younger, just through saying hello and starting up a friendly conversation. It would have really helped me along the way. So, don’t be afraid to stay after class for a few minutes to talk to the teacher about the lesson or thank them for the lecture or the notes session. You’d be surprised at how incredible some of the staff is at FHC. Don’t be afraid to head over to your coach and put in some extra minutes after practice or just talk about life. And who knows, maybe they’ll send you in a direction that will impact you for the rest of your life. Also, don’t hesitate to talk to the quiet kid next to you in class that is always studying or doesn’t seem interested. One day, you could be working for them. I’ve met some really cool kids this year that I wish I had grown closer to earlier on. Extend a friendly hand, it can only help you.

2: If you find something that fascinates you, chase it relentlessly.

As a freshman, I played football and did marching band at the same time. I can remember going straight to football practice after school, then scarfing down a sandwich that my mom dropped off for me, so I could march under the lights with the band for the next three hours. I didn’t get home until 9:30 from school, and surprisingly enough, those are some of my fondest memories as a high school student. Don’t be afraid about how busy you might be, or that you won’t have any time to hang out with friends and be missing out on fun. Trust me, following your passions is a far more valuable experience. I wish that I had stuck with more sports or stayed in the band, and if I could go back, I would have stuck with everything for as long as I possibly could. You will make friends with people on the team or in the band or in the club or whatever you chose to do that will last for the entire four years, and then some. Chase what you like, to end up doing what you love.

3: Freshman year grades are important. So is every single other year that follows. Start off strong.

I can distinctly remember thinking to myself about how I was really going to start kicking my studying into gear when I got older as I scrolled through my Power School grades, blown back by how things were looking after trying to wing everything. As a freshman, I simply didn’t care enough about how well I was doing, and assumed that I would step it up with ease in the coming years. That ended up affecting my college race in the long run, so make sure that you find a way to motivate yourself from the get-go. The senior year you getting ready to head off to college will thank you for allowing yourself to attend the place of your dreams. It’s an incredible feeling being able to say that you’re going to attend the place that you’ve always dreamt of going to, so keep your eyes on the prize from the start.

4: Don’t take things too seriously.

I can remember numerous occasions of being embarrassed in front of a class, or in the locker room, or forgetting something that I needed at practice, and getting really distraught about it. We, as young adults, have to remember to be able to laugh at ourselves and just enjoy the moments that we have with friends, teams, and family. Life is too short to be caught up in all of the little mistakes and mess ups throughout the years, especially high school. So don’t forget to look around every once and awhile and forget about all of the stress or the one thing that you’re still mad at yourself for doing. You’re human. You’re a high schooler. Things will happen. Get over it and put your next foot forward.

5: Be yourself. That way, you will be surrounded by those who are just like you.

Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. If you stay true to who you are and don’t cater to the interests of those around you, you will find that you’re heading in the direction that you’ve always wanted to be in without even thinking about it. People that are like you will slowly surround you, and you’ll find yourself a circle that will support you through it all. That is one of the most valuable things you could possibly develop.

So many people told me about how fast my four years at FHC would go by, and I never really thought about it that much until now. I have learned so much from the people that are constantly revolving in and out of my life. I will never forget my time as a Ranger, and I hope by extending these guidelines forward to those coming up through the ranks, that I can help to make their journey even more memorable than mine.