Advice from Upper Classmen

Do Not Sweat The Small Stuff, an article by Sophie S. in The Lion's Pride newspaper.
Freshman year is filled with new beginnings. A chance to explore a new side of yourself. A chance to challenge yourself academically. A chance to branch out to new experiences outside of your comfort zone. This year’s newest addition to TVT’s upper school is the class of 2026. As you prepare to enter high school, your apprehension is a feeling we have all experienced. Whether you are concerned about balancing your work load, finding your classes, figuring out what clubs to join, or just simply don’t know what to expect, the upperclassmen are here to give you help and make sure you do not make the same mistakes they did their freshman year.

Throughout 8th grade, teachers drill into students the work ethic they will need to succeed in high school. Yet, sitting in front of Mrs. Batley’s Western Civilizations may seem more frightening than some of the lectures in Mr. Chaffey’s US history class. When junior Oshri A. first entered the more rigorous high school classroom environment, she was unsure of how to interact with her teachers outside of the classroom. She mentioned, “One of the mistakes I made my freshman year was not asking my teachers for help.” This had a negative effect on Oshri as it led to her feeling very unprepared when a test came around. Oshri continued by explaining, “If you are really struggling in a class, you can always schedule an office hours appointment with your teacher and they will help you get a better understanding of the material so you can succeed.” Oshri is now an active participant of her teachers' office hours sessions, and she did not allow this small mistake to define the rest of her high school experience.

In addition, current seniors are still able to recount some of the mistakes they made their freshman year, as it has taught them some of their most valuable lessons. Senior Noa D. expressed that the biggest mistake she made her freshman year was related to organization and planning out her day: “A lot of time, I would do my work last minute and it left me super tired the next day. Also, it added a lot of stress regarding whether or not the assignment was done correctly.” However, Noa knew that making mistakes was part of her learning process, so she took it on herself to use her planner and make a schedule for herself to ensure her productivity. She also organized her binders, creating one for ABCD days and one for EFGH, so she could find her work quickly and not spend time looking for it.

Planning out your day and staying organized can also be challenging when it comes to balancing academics and sports, but TVT’s well-seasoned upperclassmen are here to help guide you through the rather frightening-looking process. Being a successful student-athlete is one of the most challenging obstacles you may encounter during your TVT experience. Freshman Jonathan G. is the epitome of a student-athlete, balancing rowing, basketball, baseball, and a demanding course load. However, as he prepares to enter high school, Jonathan’s anxiety is running high; he says, “I am most nervous for juggling athletics and academics together in a competitive setting.” Oshri Arditi experienced similar feelings during her freshman year, but was ultimately successful with balancing her sport, dance, and a rigorous course load. Oshri made several mistakes tied with the two endeavors, but recognized that making mistakes is a step to growth. She expressed that “a big mistake that I made was I did not create a balance between academics and dance. I missed a lot of dance classes because I was extremely busy studying for tests, but my lack of attendance had a negative effect on my dancing skills because I was not improving.” In order to create an equilibrium between the two, Oshri recommends “creating a list of priorities and utilizing free time as much as possible to get work done. That way you can attend your rehearsal or sports practice after school ends.” Oshri’s experience teaches us that making mistakes is so important because they teach our brains what works and what doesn't, and it requires us to create new habits.

The mistakes you make your freshman year will leave permanent etchings on your high school experience and teach you some of the most valuable lessons that you will not only be able to carry through the next four years, but the rest of your life. Mistakes may seem scary, but it's important to not lose confidence over a mistake and keep pushing forward to become the best version of yourself. Even as sophomores, juniors, and seniors, we are constantly making mistakes and learning from them. According to the New York Times best selling author and Professor of Psychology at University of Pennsylvania Angela Duckworth, “When you look at people, you find they make tons and tons of mistakes. It’s by making mistakes that you get better. Making mistakes and failing are normal-- in fact, they’re necessary.” Freshmen, as you embark along this journey, remember to trust the process and that your current sophomores, juniors, and seniors are here to help and guide you through some of the difficulties you may encounter this year.
TVT Community Day School is a TK-12 Independent Community Day School in Irvine, CA
Founded in Loving Memory of Naomi Gelman Weiss