The DO’S Do’s & DON’TS Learned for Freshman Year and Beyond

Hannah Dercks, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

DO your homework.

In middle school, it may have been easy to let an assignment or two slip behind. In high school, that’s not the case. Once you get behind, it’s a challenge to catch up. It also causes a lot of stress and anxiety when overdue homework piles up in front of you. By not doing your homework, you’re letting yourself down. By not being the best student you can be, you aren’t being the best person you can be. Of course there are times when we just can’t sit down and do our math. We may have a family gathering, or a late-night soccer practice. But as soon as you have the time, buckle down and finish the homework that has become late while you still have time to keep it under control.

Procrastinating will only make that pile grow taller and taller, making it increasingly difficult to keep the workload under control. Not only will it be hard to catch up, but it will also be hard to learn the material. The key to learning is through repetition and reinforcement, not by short-shrifting and cramming. Do yourself a favor and try to stay on top of things.

DON’T overwhelm yourself.

When coming to Notre Dame, don’t decide to take several challenging classes and then several sports, or other activities, on the side. That may be too much. It’s good to take classes you’re comfortable with and balance them with outside activities. If you want a challenge, it’s a great idea to take ICP and push yourself. But, if you’re struggling with science, maybe that isn’t the way to go. Take classes that are the best fit for you and challenge you appropriately. If you play sports, that’s a great way to relieve stress and built-up anxiety from the course of the day.

Another stress reliever could be music, art, or acting. However, if you’re involved in too many extracurricular activities, your homework and personal time decrease immensely. When this happens, you may become overwhelmed and find your days more stressful than they have to be. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Balance school with other activities, and enjoy the ride!

DO study. 

Notre Dame is a college-prep school. The course work is not always going to be a walk in the park. In Spanish, you can have a fifty-plus vocab quiz a short time after receiving the words. In ICP, you’re supposed to study the material you have already learned at least ten minutes a night.

But don’t fret—it’s not impossible. It may seem frightening when you have a quiz on twenty chapters from Exodus quiz-able the next day in Theology, but don’t worry. Figure out a study plan. For example, when you’re given vocabulary words in a class, it’s good to plan out when you’re going to study. Take my Honors English class. Every week we’re given ten words to memorize, usage and definitions. We need to be able to place them in a sentence. On a normal week, we receive the words on Monday and are quizzed on them on Friday. So, I make my flash cards Monday night or Tuesday morning. First semester, I would take advantage of my first-hour study hall and study the vocab words. That way, by the time the quiz arrived, I was prepared and knew the words and their meanings. It’s a great idea to study ahead of time. Better sooner than later!

Again, the key to learning is through repetition and reinforcement. It’s better to know most of the material the night before the quiz or test, rather than to have a four-hour cramming session and still not feel confident about the material, or have any time left to get clarification from your teacher. So, study early and study on!

DON’T ask a guy to Sweethearts’ Switch without some detective work.

He’s the boy of your dreams: the perfect hair, the sweet personality, and the hottest bod. You realize this is your big chance to ask him to the Sweethearts’ Switch dance. You get him some chocolates and a flower, ready to give this boy a piece of your heart. You go up to him in front of the class, asking him to be your date to the dance. Everyone stares, waiting for the response. Then, that perfect boy says “no,” rejecting you right in front of everyone. Not only was your heart ripped in two, but you and this guy were embarrassed in front of the whole class.

Don’t go for the big public proposal unless you are pretty sure this boy will say “yes.” Ladies, do some detective work. Have a friend ask your ideal date if he’s interested in going with you. “If so-and-so asked you to Sweethearts’ Switch, would you go with them?”  There you go, Nancy Drew! If he says “yes,” then game on.

If your dream guy doesn’t want to go with you, it isn’t the end of the world. Sure it hurts, but obviously he doesn’t realize what an amazing girl you are. What’s meant to be will be. It’s a good thing that you found out, because you could discover another guy that’s in your Theology class that’s really cute and smart, and does want to go to the dance with you. Just because your dream guy said “no” doesn’t mean there isn’t someone else lurking in the potential romantic shadows of Notre Dame. If your heart was set on that guy, and he said “no,” then don’t worry. You aren’t required to ask a guy! Get all dolled up, go out for dinner, and have a great time with your girlfriends. You can still have an amazing night without some boy. Girls rule!

DO take a lesson yourself from the Sweethearts’ Switch Emotion.

When Fall Fest rolls around, or any other dance where a guy may be the one asking you—remember the Golden Rule: Do to others what you would want them to do to you (Luke 6:31). If a guy gets up the nerve to ask you to a dance, do the best to protect his feelings and appreciate the great choice he made in asking you. Maybe this is the “guy of your dreams.”

Then, it’s easy. But, what if he isn’t the guy of your dreams? You may be the girl of his, so tread kindly and softly. Guard his dignity and save his pride by kindly accepting his offer, or kindly rejecting it. More often than not, it might be a good idea to accept. Remember, the invitation was given to you because this person found something special and appealing in you.

You can accept as friends and go and have a good time and let him enjoy his wise choice. After all, this is an offer to go to a dance, not to get married! Of course, you should never feel obligated or forced to go with anyone if you do not want to. It is your decision. You may have very good reasons not to accept his offer. Stick with those, and move on, but let him down gently. Treat him the way you would want to be treated if the dance shoe was on the other foot.

DO clubs at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame has tons of clubs to choose from. There’s Writers Union, APPP (Allies for Positive Peer Pressure), HumanKind, CSI: NDA, and more! Joining clubs is a great way to become involved at Notre Dame and a great way to meet new people. You can learn new skills, help others, and raise awareness of important issues. There are so many clubs in which you can partake and express yourself. If you want to join a club with your friends, that can be fun, but don’t forget to join clubs that you are interested in joining. If you like Photography, do Photography Club! It’s up to you to choose what club you want to be in. Just don’t join so many clubs that you can’t do them—or your studies—justice. Balance and breathe!

DON’T miss Public Performance.

Some days your lunch at Notre Dame is shortened, not for a longer class period or some boring lecture, but for Public Performance! If you want to catch the show, you need to eat quickly, and when it’s time, head over to the auditorium and be prepared to be amazed by the comedic Public Performance team. From girls impersonating guys to boys lip-syncing “Breaking Free” from High School Musical, you can always count on having a laugh.

Having a rough day, and there’s Public Performance? Go have a laugh at Public Performance. It’s worth having a shorter lunch period to be able to enjoy a show put on by Notre Dame’s funniest students.

DO catch a Mass, Rosary or Adoration every week.

We are so blessed here at Notre Dame to be in the only Green Bay high school where one can take a walk down the hall and experience the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle or the Mass, and join in praying a rosary asking our Blessed Mother to intercede for us and for those for whom we pray. Not to get too heavy on you here, but it is true—we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Here’s our chance to get charged up for all we face! There is no problem too big or too small for God. He just wants to hear from us. And, He wants us to hear Him. The good thing there is, we don’t even have to pray to hear Him. We just have to open our heart and shut our mouth. We can just go before the tabernacle and sit. God will do the rest. That’s because He’s God. So, if you need a little strengthening—trot over to the Chapel. It will be a better pick-me-up than a double shot of a Starbucks Caffè Latte–and cheaper too!