The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Emily Hamilton

New grade, new challenges

Dear underclassmen,

Being less than a month away from graduation, I’ve been spending some time thinking about the last four years I’ve spent at LHS. Since each year marked a monumental time in my life, I decided to give advice for each year.

Incoming freshmen: I, unlike many of you, came from Hawthorn Middle School North, so I knew very few people. However, having an open mind and not restricting yourself to one friend group can help you meet a ton of diverse people.

Freshman year is the year to get involved. Participate in sports, clubs, theater, go to school dances, take electives (the dungeon has lots of cool classes you can’t take anywhere else like woodworking, auto, graphics, painting, etc.) or whatever sparks your attention. It’s better to try something early on then to find your passion the last semester of senior year. If you’re someone with lots of school spirit, I definitely recommend getting involved in Student Council, where you can do the behind-the-scenes planning for homecoming floats, other dances and spirit days.

Academically, freshman year is different than middle school in the sense that everything you do counts. Try your best freshman year so that you can get your GPA as high as possible. Also, I highly recommend making group chats with people who are in the same classes as you. Even if you aren’t close friends, you will both benefit if you have a last-minute question on homework or while studying for a test.

Incoming sophomores: one by one, each of your friends will get their license, which is probably one of the best parts of sophomore year. It gives you the freedom to go wherever, with whoever, whenever you want. I definitely recommend taking advantage of that by exploring new places and going to support LHS at sporting events. With all of these new distractions, make sure to do well in school. Sophomore year was the easiest year academically for me, and I recommend taking lots of honors classes. They are more work than regular classes, but the difference isn’t too drastic.

Over the summer, I definitely recommend getting a summer job. Since you have your license, there’s really no excuse as to why you can’t work. Chances are all of your friends will be doing the same and without a job, you’ll spend most of your summer bored and waiting for your other friends to get out of work.

Incoming juniors: I’m not going to lie, junior year sucks; well, at least it did for me. I took four AP classes, which I do not recommend unless you truly think you can handle it. I think, at most, take three. Junior year is the year you have to buckle down and focus on academics. With harder classes, your GPA is bound to drop, which is why you should try extra hard to get it high freshman and sophomore years.

Besides school work, there’s also the stress of the ACT and SAT weighing you down. I recommend taking a practice test of each to find out which test highlights your strengths. I ended up taking the ACT because I was better at working fast. I took the test once without any prior knowledge or practice and got a decent score but wanted to do better. There are lots of tutoring options. I did tutoring through Simon Test Prep, which was very helpful. You are all capable of doing all the problems on the ACT; the challenge is getting through the problems quickly and efficiently. Through tutoring, I took practice tests and they taught me skills to work faster and figure out what areas I was lacking in.

Junior year is also the year that you start forming your college list. I think the most important thing when deciding where you want to go is being realistic with yourself. I was super set on going somewhere far and during senior year, when I got closer to deciding where I wanted to go, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to come home as often to see family and friends and it would be very difficult to transport all my clothes and furniture. I think it’s best to figure out which factors are most important to you when choosing a school, like location, size, school spirit, academics, and more and then to make a well-rounded list.

All of these new responsibilities can cause lots of stress. Even though it is difficult preparing for your future, take it one step at a time. Make a list of everything you have to get done and start there. Everything will work out in the end, so just push through junior year so that you can relax and enjoy senior year.

Incoming seniors: you’re almost there! Get a head start on all of your college applications because it’s easy to underestimate how long they will actually take. Go to the CRC in your free periods. They can help edit your essays and answer your questions. I also recommend applying early for housing. A lot of schools let you turn in an application even if you haven’t been accepted yet so that you can get the housing of your choice. Most of all, just make the most of your senior year and spend time with the people around you.

To sum it up, you learn a lot about yourself over the course of high school. You figure out the things that really matter and learn to let the small things go. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is to be open-minded whether it’s about new friendships, clubs, academics or the future.


Best of luck!


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