The Class of 2020’s Advice for Freshmen

The Class of 2020s Advice for Freshmen

Kathryn Zheng, Co-Editor-in-Chief

It’s fall again. It’s a new school year, marked by the stress of tests, making new friends, joining new extracurriculars, and finding your place. For freshmen, these factors are perhaps more difficult than they would be for others; it’s undeniable, after all, that Tenafly High School is dramatically different from Tenafly Middle School, from the layout of its classrooms to teachers’ expectations to the general atmosphere. Fortunately, for any freshmen, there’s always help to be found, and not only from their Peers. As THS’s Class of 2020 begins to apply to colleges and prepares to embark on a new, foreign journey, some have opted to impart advice to the new freshmen. 


The academic transition for freshmen is always difficult; long gone are the days of fill-in-the-blank worksheets and Jeopardy games before every test. Luckily, teachers—and fellow students—are always willing to help.

“Don’t stress out about it too much. Just make sure to do your work in advance, pay attention in class, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!” – Elyse Rho 

“Don’t be afraid to go see a teacher after school for extra help. It will show you are aiming to work extremely hard this year. Plus, having a good relationship with a teacher is a great thing.” – Jordyn Konefsky

“Don’t overdo notes while studying because you’ll get too tired halfway through and not be able to finish. Make sure you understand broad concepts before going into detail, especially with regards to science classes.” – Maya Considine

“Don’t feel like the stigma of taking all honors is necessary. Take honors classes that you will actually be okay with being challenged in. Also, finish your required classes for graduation ASAP.” – Jiho Park


The social transition to high school can also be difficult. One minute you were the “big shots,” ruling the middle school, and now you’re …well, not. Fortunately, in high school, you’ll have time to find “your people,” make friends for life, and become comfortable both with those who surround you and yourself.

“Don’t be bound to stereotypes of what you should or should not be. Everyone is interesting and you’ll find people who like you for you.” – Emily Kwen

“Know that this whole ‘popular group thing’ will go away eventually and just be yourself because it takes a lot of work to be fake. You do you.” – Jacob Brick

“You’ll find your people. Don’t feel pressured to be someone you aren’t, because chances are there is someone out there who has the same interests as you.” – Elyse Rho

“Just find your friends and don’t try to impress other people. Also, be decent to everyone because you would appreciate the same, and—this way—you’ll avoid unnecessary drama.” – Anne Rafferty

“Positivity and kindness go a long way.” – Noa Shevchuk

“Parties don’t make you popular. The cool kids in middle school aren’t big shots here, and once you go to college, popularity is irrelevant. All that matters is the way you treat people.” – Jiho Park


Extracurriculars matter—and not just, as your mother might say, “for college.” Extracurriculars are a great way to meet new people, make new friends, give back to your community, learn something new, and more.

“Clubs are investments. If you work hard, they’ll give you something in return.” – Emily Kwen

“Try as much as you can. High school is a place to try new things and see what interests you. Don’t be afraid to join a random club just to see if you will like it. Also, become an EMT with TVAC—best decision I ever made!” – Jacob Brick

“Participate in clubs/activities that you think will be fun, not ones that you think will look good on your college application.” – Elyse Rho

“Go to the Club Fair, sign up for sports, etc. It’s a great way to meet new people and strengthen old connections.” – Ethan Park

“There are so many things to get involved in and you can try/quit as many as you want. Take a look at the Club Fair and your peer leaders can tell you about the clubs they are a part of.” – Anne Rafferty


In T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” a poem which, at times, delves deeply into the concepts of lost wishes and long-forgotten regrets, he writes, “And would it have been worth it, after all, / Would it have been worth while, / After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, / After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor— /And this, and so much more?— / It is impossible to say just what I mean!” Do we, as seniors, have regrets? Maybe, maybe not. But do we have things that we wish people had told us when we were wide-eyed freshmen, entering a place that might as well have been a whole new universe? Definitely. 

“I wish someone told me, REALLY told me, that I could be anything that I wanted to be. Not in the cliché movie way, but in that my choices don’t have to make sense to anyone else as long as I am willing to take the risk.” – Emily Kwen

“I wish someone had told me to participate in more clubs. It’s a great way to find new friends with similar interests and a great way to explore new hobbies and interests.” – Elyse Rho

“That three cups of coffee are not a substitute for sleep.” – Ethan Park

“That teachers are a bit more relaxed than they seem. When you show them respect, they usually will treat you with the same.” – Anne Rafferty

“To join clubs and try hard freshman year.” – Michelle Musheyev

“To start practicing for the SAT earlier.” – Maya Considine


Some parting words of advice for any freshmen—and, in fact, for anyone at all! After all, it’s the start of a new school year; anything is possible.

“If our school doesn’t offer it, you should start it! Also, freshman year doesn’t determine your life; it doesn’t even determine the rest of high school. You can be as much of a blank slate as you want to be.” – Emily Kwen

“I know it sounds counterintuitive, but work hard while trying to have fun because you’ll regret it if you don’t. Also, as hard as it might seem now, Tenafly will give you a great education and that will help you so much later on in life.” – Anne Rafferty