What I wish I knew before I came to Walter Johnson


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Transitioning to a new school can take months. In my experience, I found several methods to make the transition smoother.

For some transfers and otherwise new students to Walter Johnson, nothing can prepare them for the packed hallways, erratic sporting events and unique culture of local public schools. As a former homeschooler, the change was even more dramatic for me. Gone are the days of flexible schedules and personalized classrooms, making it quite easy to get lost in the rush. For all the freshmen, incoming transfers or exchange students, this is what I wish I knew before I came to Walter Johnson.

As the second-largest school in the state of Maryland, this place definitely takes some getting used to, which leads us to the first step for a successful transition: memorizing the quickest route to each of your classrooms. Last year, I struggled at times to get to each class on time and I noticed how negatively it impacted me in the eyes of certain teachers. With the time between classes whittled down to a mere five minutes this year, it makes getting to class on time that much harder. As a new student, it is very important to make a positive impression on your teachers, showing up consistently before the late bell helps accomplish this. Take time during lunch or before school to trace the fastest routes to all your classes.

Amidst thousands of students, you will find your social group within the first few weeks of school. I can not understate the importance of the second step: surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals. Find people who will push you to succeed at your specific goals and aspirations, even if they are not conventionally “cool”. As much as the tropes annoy you, peer pressure is very real in high school and it is very powerful. It can lead to skipping class, consuming illicit school substances, such as nicotine, or disregarding instruction. Take control of your relationships and hold yourself to a higher standard. You will thank yourself in the future.

The third step is getting involved and putting yourself out there. This goes a long way and makes the high school experience significantly more enjoyable. Try out for that varsity sports team you were thinking about or join a club that interests you. This unlocks so many social opportunities and shapes lifelong high school memories. As we approach college and then the great unknown, it is important to take time to grow and enjoy yourself.

Finally, prioritize yourself. Fitting in is hard and it can take its toll, and sometimes it’s hard to remember what’s most important. Over school, clubs, athletics, friends and teachers, your mental and physical health is king. If you ever feel like a particular decision or person is compromising that, reevaluate your position. Never forget how important you are.