Dear Freshman: Take It from a Senior

Hailey Swonger, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

High school can be a big, new, confusing world for many incoming freshmen. It definitely was for me. I got to Notre Dame barely knowing anyone and with an anti-social outlook. I knew maybe two people and decided I didn’t need any more friends, but I was wrong. At Notre Dame, you flourish by breaking out of your shell academically, socially and athletically. It’s important to try new things because if you don’t, you’ll regret it as a senior.

Academically, trying out new types of classes not only looks good on your college applications, but it may also open a door to something you never knew you’d like. I never knew I liked drawing and sketching until I took art during my sophomore year, and I’m glad I did because I like to doodle during class. At least now, my doodles don’t look like blobs. I also want to challenge you guys to try out some higher level classes. Higher classes forced me to develop great study habits that have helped me survive high school. They’ll also teach you to think critically which is important nowadays.

Having the confidence to get out there and make new friends can be hard, but joining clubs and participating in extracurriculars is a great way to start. It’s important to connect with the people in your class, but it’s also important that you don’t limit yourself to your grade because some of the best friends I have now are a grade below me. Some were a grade or two above me too. Another payoff of having friends in the grade above you is that they went through what you’re going through and can help you. I always used to ask my friends for help on homework because they went through that class and knew what they were doing.

I’ll admit, I don’t know a lot about athletics, but I did join cross country for the last two  weeks of the season. I haven’t joined a lot of sports, but I kind of wish I did. I would’ve made more friends and sports are good for you. I’d suggest that you find a sport or at least a club. It’ll provide a network of friends who are interested in the same thing. Sports are big at Notre Dame and getting into one is like participating in the Notre Dame community. There are so many different sports that Notre Dame offers and I suggest that you guys try at least one.

Looking back, on my own high school years, I wish I would’ve taken my own advice. I’ve never had great grades, but the clubs and service hours are a redeeming quality, and it wouldn’t have happened if I had stuck to those two friends. By trying new things, meeting new people and challenging yourself, you’ll grow and blossom at Notre Dame. You never know, you might actually find something you’re passionate about too.