Dear Vinh Tran,

First of all, get rid of those tight jeans. No one thinks they’re cool and I know for sure you can afford better pants, your precious video games can wait a couple days. Anyways, there’s a lot I’ve wanted to tell you and I don’t know where to start. So before you start high school, here’s a couple things no one told me when I was a freshman.

Spending your money on cool clothes and such may seem cool because you want to fit in, but is it really you? I know for sure I went through a Louis-Vuitton don phase and the days of the fabled “Swagapino” are far behind us, but dress for yourself. Self-identity is something most new students struggle with, so stop worrying about who you can become and focus on how you can improve yourself.

Wait I get it, you were trying to impress some girls. I see, but don’t date anyone in your first year. From first-hand experience, those things don’t last if you’re rushing into a relationship just for the title of [insert random girl’s name]’s boyfriend. By the way, there’s someone special waiting for you in your senior year, so don’t mess up.

One of the things you can do to mess up is miss a day. Right now I have around 20 absences and that’s just from this year alone. And let me tell you, every time I missed a class I ended up being even more lost the following day. Take a sick day when you actually are sick but make sure to get those days excused. 

You’re probably asking what classes you should take and which to avoid. Honestly, no one can really answer that for you. Each credit and elective you take should apply to you and whatever career path you choose. But knowing me, I have yet to figure out what I want to do. So I just went with whatever class felt fun to me. It’s worked out so far and I’ve never regretted taking AP Human Geography over a science class.

If you’re worried about if you won’t have time to balance your social life and education, here’s the answer: you won’t. But not all teachers are unnervingly strict, contrary to popular belief, teachers are people too and they will understand your situation. Things come up and life hits hard, teachers know that too and most of the time they’ll root for your success.

However, if you spent the entire year being lazy, they probably won’t show you any mercy. But that goes to show, laziness is an ugly quality and shouldn’t become a habit—especially with fees and more importantly, yearbook payments. You don’t want Mr. Matthew LaPorte hunting you down, trust me, I endured four years of journalism.

Freshman are notoriously overzealous and excited about entering the high school world. Don’t jump into every opportunity you find because chances are, you’ll regret it. Your next four years go by fast but that doesn’t mean you should rush through high school. Slow down and make sure you enjoy this period of time—after all, school isn’t everything.

Is high school anything like you expected?