High School Expectations vs Reality

Freshman Year

Expectation: In eighth grade, almost every teacher told his or her class about how hard high school was going to be, and how students would have to work harder than they ever had before. They said that if you wanted to enjoy having school spirit, middle school was the place to do so. It got to the point where half the class was dreading to leave and the other half couldn’t wait to get out. High school was a huge terrifying thing that loomed in the future, with hours and hours of anticipated homework that people stayed up until 4 a.m. doing.

Reality: High school came around and all the dread that had been accumulating over the summer dissipated. The first term of the year flew by and, even with sports, the homework rarely took as long as previously expected. Instead of being harder to be spirited and involved in the school, it became easier to decide what to do and how to participate in school events without the overarching peer pressure of middle school. This limited stress made it much easier to focus on work.

Sophomore Year

Expectation: After such a mild freshman year — despite the middle school teachers warning otherwise — sophomore year was expected to be the same. The workload couldn’t possibly be too bad and the homework shouldn’t really take more than a few hours. Sophomore year was expected to be just as easy as everything leading up to it.

Reality: With three speeches on the first day about how every class would be the hardest class the students had ever taken and about how half the class should just drop right off the bat, sophomore year is definitely not the anticipated continuation of freshman year. The homework started to take hours upon hours upon hours, leading right into the latest hours of the night. Instead of relieving the stress, rotators (having one class on A days and a different class on B days), added to it, increasing the workload and making the need to get work done a lot harder to fulfill. Now, instead of just three or four classes to worry about at a time, there were four or five.

Junior Year

Expectation: We’ve all been listening to our parents, counselors, and educators’ take on junior year; how it’s the year that will make or break a college future, that having fun should be a last priority, that grades and extracurriculars should remain top-notch, and was it already mentioned that this is the most important year college-wise? Oh yeah. It was, most likely 20 million times by the start of the year. Junior year seems more like a more professional and high-risk ballgame compared to the tee-ball rules which applied freshman and sophomore year.

Reality: After the initial junior year scare has worn off, it’s easy to see that although the workload and classes may be more challenging, especially when keeping up with sports and extracurriculars and a social life, junior year isn’t as hard as one would expect. As long as your priorities are kept in check (I guess our parents know a thing or two after all) and you learn how to manage your time, the past two years of high school will have sufficiently prepared you for this new ballgame. Just remember that sleep is a priority too, so don’t skimp out too much despite how strongly you may feel the need to stay up until two in the morning to finish your IB assessments. Although sometimes, it’s just what you have to do.

Senior Year

Expectation: We’ve all known how we wanted our senior year to be since we watched High School Musical 3; a montage of school spiritedness at sports games, finding out where you’re going to college, having the best night of your life at prom, and throwing your graduation cap in the air surrounded by all your friends.

Reality: Nothing is how the movies make it out to be, which is probably better. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones, senior year classes can be just as stressful and challenging as those from any other year, and just trying to breeze by could still affect your future. Since it is the last year, though, make an effort to try new things (just as you would have freshman year), whether it’s cheering with the Panther Pit, going to a Strings concert, or joining the Academic Decathlon team. But, still make time to participate in the things that you have come to love most about high school. Despite the cheesiness of that sentiment, make your last year memorable.