Harrisite’s guide to the galaxy: Advice for incoming freshmen and sophomores by upperclassmen

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The transition from one’s previous academic institution to Townsend Harris High School under the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic can be daunting for both the incoming freshmen in the Class of 2025 and the incoming sophomores in the Class of 2024. In light of this, rising seniors, juniors, and sophomores have weighed in with advice to ease their transition to THHS this September.

Academic Advice

  • “Stop over prioritizing academics. Your whole world doesn’t and shouldn’t revolve around it. Plan out your time wisely so that you can still have happy-go-lucky moments to look back on. Make the most out of your high school experience!” – Dorothy Joy Delacruz, rising senior
  • “Junior and Senior year is a lot closer than you think, and soon you’ll have to face important decisions in your life like what colleges you want to attend and what major you want to pursue. That’s why you should enjoy Freshman and Sophomore year as much as possible and not stress too much about grades.” – Sheron Xu, rising senior 
  • “[Don’t] be nervous about coming into Townsend. [You] shouldn’t procrastinate on their assignments. It’s important to get your freshman GPA high because all [the school years] matter in high school.” – Naliah Allahdeen, rising junior
  • “Bring a big book bag. I didn’t and I regretted it so bad. There were so many books. I was so used to a school that had everything online, [so I did not invest in a big book bag when I came to Townsend].” – Blessing Ogunsola, rising junior
  • “Some advice would be to stay on top of units, especially in AP classes where there is a lot of material on the internet. You should review or catch up anywhere you are struggling and utilize these videos [such as those of Khan Academy or others]. They will help in the future. And, do not be afraid to ask for help! I know that’s cliche but you won’t be judged at all and your teachers will be so willing to help. Keep your backpack organized too.  I can’t imagine how much homework I’ve lost in my messy bag. Use the textbooks. I never used textbooks until like the end of the year and the amount of time and struggle I could’ve saved… Even though they might just sit on your desk or in your locker the whole year, they are so great for outlines and such.” – Kailiya Gavlin, rising junior
  • “Here’s some advice that I wish I knew when I entered Townsend: do not be afraid to ask upperclassmen questions about classes and about the school. When I eventually mustered the courage to ask, I learned that everyone is there to help you.” – Emily Prasad, rising junior
  • “Don’t hesitate to ask teachers for help, because they’re so much nicer and less intimidating than you think. 99.9% of the time, a teacher would be happy to meet with you anytime, be it after class, or during office hours, or any time that works for you.” – Zaynah Shariff, rising junior
  • “Get to know your teachers well and become close with your teachers because you will need to ask for recommendations in the future.” – Lauren Jun, rising senior

Extracurricular Advice

  • “[Incoming students], immerse yourself into the school’s community. Whether you decide to do so through extracurricular activities, sport teams, or Student Union, it will make your high school experience so much more memorable. From these, you can create memories and relationships that you will cherish in future years.” – Ashley Wu, rising senior
  • “Join clubs and other after school activities like FON and S!NG to… have a lot of fun and make unforgettable memories.” – Lauren
  • Rising sophomores Antonia Lestariadi and Kaia Lain advise incoming students to join at least one club but not feel the need to do ten, twelve. Antonia knew people who were doing back-to-back clubs during this academic year, and she personally partook in that habit and suffered in terms of her personal well-being. 
  • Kaia and Antonia recommend underclassmen to befriend the upperclassmen, through extracurriculars for instance, as they can make it easier for students to acclimate to THHS socio-academically
  • “Join clubs for things you are actually interested in, not because you think they’ll look good for college apps or just to be with friends.” – Madeline Cannon, rising junior
  • “At the same time, though, make sure to get involved with clubs or out of school activities because these activities will fill up your college apps. You don’t want to head into Junior year and then suddenly realize you don’t have anything to put on your apps because you haven’t done anything worth mentioning in Freshman and Sophomore year.“ – Sheron
  • “If I could give advice to incoming freshmen and incoming sophomores, it would be to not spread themselves too thin. I encourage everyone to try out everything and anything that interests them but to be wary of doing activities for the sake of doing them. It can result in burnout, being overwhelmed, and most of all, feeling like you can’t have fun. It’s important to do things because you enjoy them and not because you think it would look good on college apps four years from now by doing everything.”- Prisha Rao, rising junior
  • “The hardest part about Townsend is the extracurriculars since that’s what occupies most of your schedule and if you’re not doing extracurriculars, it’s not that hard. So, know yourself pretty well, know what you like, know what kind of time you have to put energy into these [extracurriculars that you choose].” – Sameeha Khan, rising junior

Personal Advice

  • “The most important thing that the incoming classes should keep in mind is to seize every opportunity available to them. That may seem hard to do, but if it’s something you’re excited about then go for it. If the past year has taught us anything it is that we need to take advantage of every moment we have. Do your best to not get overwhelmed by school, and instead enjoy the little moments that you create with friends and during your extracurriculars because at the end of the day that is what makes this all worthwhile.” – Karan Ajmera, rising senior
  • “[You] could be doing some exercises [during the summer] to practice for Gym and eventually having to run the mile.” – Naliah
  • “It’s really important to exercise throughout the school year. I know people, after quarantine [and] even before that, were trapping themselves into their own little mancaves. It’s really important to move and you won’t believe how good of a destressor it can be. You will always feel like you are suffering during a workout, but when you’re done, you will be like, ‘Oh, I’m glad I did it.’” – Estella Chan, rising junior
  • “Avoid getting overwhelmed about going to [THHS] for the first time, and instead be proud of yourself. [THHS] sounds very intimidating at first, but just maintain decent time management and balance other activities with school work, and you’ll be okay. Always prioritize yourself and your health! Period!” – Alisha Mahadeo, rising junior
  • “​​Remember to treasure yourself; you’re going to undergo a lot of stress during your time here so please remember to take care of yourself mentally and physically.” – Sheron
  • Rising sophomore Olivia Wong stated the good personal habits she worked on during her Freshman year that incoming Freshmen and incoming Sophomores can also seek to prioritize, saying, “I was able to…focus on myself! I’ve been trying to improve my diet and the amount of sleep I get. I’ve also had a lot more free time to workout and hang out with my family.”
  • “Just go with the flow. Things change very often and although you may not be comfortable with new things at first, those changes change you in the best way possible.” – SnehaShree Paul, rising sophomore

Social Advice

  • “Try your best to make a lot of friends and talk to a lot of people in Freshman year because out of the many friends you’ll have, a few close ones will keep you sane throughout all four years.” – Sheron
  • “Pain is temporary, but regret is permanent. Get out of your comfort zone and choose your friends wisely. They’ll be the ones to be there with you through every hurdle you come across in high school.” – Dorothy Joy
  • “Be yourself, like personality wise, because people at Townsend really don’t judge and are nice.” – Naliah
  • “If you ever end up stressing over something, just know that you are surrounded by people who will help and support you through it.” – Vivian Chen, rising sophomore
  • “Don’t worry too much about the workload because you’ll eventually adjust to it. You’re not alone and everyone is trying to adjust to their new schedules and classes.” – Madeline
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