Dear Freshman,

I’m sure you’ve heard by now how the next four years of your life will fly by and that you should try to enjoy it to the fullest because before you know it’ll be over. Right now you’re probably doubting this and maybe even hoping it’s true.

I know when I was a freshman I thought all the seniors were just saying it’ll fly by and that anything else they said must not be true. I’m Tori Richie and now as a senior in my last semester of high school at Rocky Mountain, I can confidently say that I was wrong.

Looking back on these last four years I wish I would have listened to the seniors before me. So here is my gift to all the high school freshmen out there, my big four pieces of advice that I wish I would’ve had before I started high school.

My first, and probably most impactful, piece of advice I have is to get all of your hard AP classes, required classes, and any other challenging classes out of the way as soon as you can.

Now I know this probably doesn’t sound very fun, and you’re right. I’m not saying to fully load your schedule as a freshman and sophomore with hard classes, you can include a fun, easy class as well. But if you get your requirements and hard classes all done by senior year I can promise you’ll be thankful you did.

Senioritis is a real thing, I’m the most unmotivated in school I have ever been right now so I am beyond thankful to my past self for getting my hard and required classes done. This way I don’t have to stress about being able to graduate. Instead, I can enjoy my last year.

The next piece of advice I have is the most important in the long run. Set yourself up for success. There’s a rumor that grades your freshman year don’t matter and that they really don’t matter until junior and senior year. This is false. Every grade you get has an impact on your overall high school GPA.

Your GPA is a number that reflects your grades throughout your four years of high school and colleges look at it for admission. You don’t want to have to dig yourself out of a hole you made to recover your GPA, instead, start off strong and keep it that way throughout.

Outside of all the academics and schedule making, high school’s main aspect is social. Throughout high school, it’s likely you’ll go on a social roller coaster. You may start off with a bunch of friends like I did. Some will fade, some will grow, and some new ones may even appear.

Freshman year I was told that my friend group coming into high school would decrease drastically by senior year. I didn’t think this was going to happen to me, that all my friends were too close and there was no way that would change. I was wrong, but I’m glad I was.

I look at all my friends now and know for a fact they’re real ones. If they’ve lasted this long, through all the ups and downs of high school there’s no questioning the friendship. So although it may be a sad thing to lose some friends, try to embrace it and know it’s likely for the best even if it doesn’t feel that way at the time.

My last piece of advice that sounds cliche is to enjoy it. Four years until graduation may seem like a long time right but they’ll fly by. During the four years, it may feel slow and there will be weeks that last a lifetime. But looking back afterward I can’t believe I’m already about to graduate and how fast time really went.

I’m grateful to those seniors before me who told me grades mattered freshman year, to enjoy it, to get on the social roller coaster, and that I got my requirements out of the way so that I can now enjoy senior year.

Work hard and study but go to that football game, join that club, take the one class that interests you, do anything and everything that you enjoy, and even some things out of your comfort zone. This is a time of growth and learning about yourself, why not enjoy it?