Advice for Students in Grade 9

You’re new in high school! Of course, you want to be successful for the next four years. Your teachers will help you succeed. Here are the Top Ten Mistakes to avoid, so that you can increase your chances of success!

We’ll start with the worst mistake you can make:

  1. My freshman year doesn’t count. My senior year is far away. If I mess up, I can always get back on track in 10th grade.
    While it’s true that you can make up for bad choices and slip-ups, your freshman year is the foundation upon which the rest of high school, and then college, will be built. Freshman year isn’t a trial period or practice—it’s the real thing!
  2. I’ll take this course because my friend is taking it.
    Your friend picked the Music Option because she loves to play flute and compose music. But you’d rather listen to music while you draw or paint. You’ll know you’ve made a mistake when you’re way behind on your homework and have failed a test. You could have been getting A’s in the Art & Design Option instead. (Don’t choose an Ooops-tion!)
  3. I’ll just skip this class. One day won’t make a difference.
    Not so. In high school, attendance counts. You will have to make up the time you have missed above a certain number of periods. Colleges—and especially employers—look for consistent attendance before grades. Even the best students miss classes because of illness or unforeseen events. But remember: most of the teaching in high school is cumulative, meaning that each day is based on what happened in class the previous day. If you get out of the loop, it’s really hard to get back in.
  4. I don’t need to write down that assignment. I’ll just remember it.
    Most likely, you’ll only remember the assignment until you leave the classroom. By the time you get home, you’ll only have a vague memory of what the teacher said. Then you’ll have to call someone in your class to ask, and if you can’t get hold of a friend, you’ll make a lot more calls. And you certainly don’t want to give up and skip the homework.
  5. I spilled soy sauce on my homework and it’s a mess. I know I’ll be late if I do it over, so I’ll just forget about it.
    You should talk to your teacher about making up lost or forgotten homework. Even though you may lose some points, you are guaranteed to get NO points if you never turn it in! So while the assignment may be late, at least it will be counted. Teachers would rather that you do the homework so that you can learn from it, rather than blow it off. Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher about turning in late assignments—better late than never!
  6. Sorry, I can’t join that club—I have to study all the time.
    Your freshman year is a good chance to become part of the high school community. You’ll get to know kids from other grades, but you may also find an activity that you really love and want to continue throughout high school and beyond.
  7. Everyone else in the class understood what the teacher just said except me, so I won’t ask him to explain it—I’ll look stupid!
    You’d be surprised to know that if you didn’t understand something, probably other students also felt the same way. Be brave! Ask the question, and everyone else will be silently thanking you. Plus you’ll really understand what the teacher meant.
  8. I don’t want to talk to the teacher about the problems I’m having in her class.
    Teachers aren’t mind-readers. They won’t know that you’re struggling until they see a failing grade. If you’re having problems, it’s OK to say “I just don’t get it.” Teachers love to teach, and they’ll want to sit down with you and help you until you do “get it.”
  9. A situation at school is making me feel really uncomfortable. I’ll just tell my friend about it instead of going to the counselor’s office.
    Big or small, serious or not, whatever problems you’re having, your counselor is there to help you, protect you, guide you, and comfort you. Your best friend may also be sympathetic, but chances are that she can’t solve the problem as effectively as a counselor can.
  10. I don’t really need all that much sleep.
    That might have been true during the summer, when you could sleep late. Now you’re up and out with the sunrise. Trouble is, when you go to bed late, you find yourself nodding off in Period 1 or after lunch. All that brain power that you’re using to adjust to high school takes energy, and energy comes from a good night’s sleep.