While I might not necessarily be an expert on the subject, I was once a freshman, and I wish someone would have given me this advice when I was starting high school a few years ago.
Dear me from the past,
I hope you’re enjoying the first few days of high school. I know it seems pretty far down the line, but college is coming up faster than you know it and high school will be gone in the blink of an eye. You probably think the workload is a lot more than it was in middle school, but I promise you can handle it. Actually, however hard it seems, you’re doing yourself a huge favor by pushing yourself now. Take as many AP classes as you can, because the credit you get if you do well will make your schedule much easier in college. Also, do well in school, but make sure you invest enough time into extracurriculars. Your after school activities are much more important than studying an extra hour for your English test. Get involved in something academic to learn a useful skill, play a sport to work on your teamwork skills and stay in shape, and save some time to socialize with your friends so you have people to keep in touch with when you go away for the school year. This all might sound like a lot, and you might want to take it easy instead, but trust me, now’s the best time to do it. You’ll only get busier from here on out.
That’s not to say don’t leave yourself some time to relax and de-stress, high school isn’t a total cakewalk either. Read a lot of books, because soon you’ll find yourself with less and fewer opportunities to do so. Watch some TV/Netflix, play some video games, etc. You won’t get the chance to indulge yourself that much when you’re at college, and it’s always a topic of conversation/helpful for getting references. GO OUTSIDE. There’s no guarantee you’ll go to college somewhere with nice weather, and when you’re in your dorm or a library for 6-straight hours every night you’ll come to appreciate the times where you just went outside and walked around in the sunlight, or tossed a frisbee around.
Try to learn some adult skills, like cooking, investing, doing laundry, etc. If not just to help around the house, it’ll be convenient when you start living by yourself. You can never get started too early, and even though it’ll feel like you’re busy now, you can definitely find the time.
Enjoy being able to get up for school every day on 5-6 hours of sleep. Something about college makes getting up at 8:00 AM feels like getting hit by a bus. Enjoy not having to take care of yourself all that much because you have your family there. You’ll learn appreciate them even more when they’re not by your side. Overall, enjoy being a kid, because even though you’re not really off living an adult yet while you’re in college, you expose yourself to it bit by bit.
Now, don’t take this letter the wrong way, you shouldn’t be dreading college. In fact, you should be more excited for college than anything else. The only reason I’m encouraging you to push so hard right now is because college is so great, and you can make it even better by learning some things now that you would normally have to figure out on-the-fly. At college you’ll take more interesting classes, join more engaging clubs/organizations, get in better shape (if you make the effort), make better friends, and mature a lot as a person! Last thing: don’t stress too much about anything that happens in high school. It couldn’t be more true when people tell you that “X won’t matter 5 years down the line,” or “no one will remember that Y happened in a couple of months”. Enjoy the highs, don’t get dragged down by the lows. High School can be a fun time, but just remember you have college to look forward to as that extra motivation to keep yourself busy!