Author: August Clarke
Starting high school is both exciting and scary for a lot of teens, especially if you are heading to a new school where you might not know a lot of people. I’m going to be honest: of all three years of high school, Grade 10 was definitely the worst for me. This isn’t because Grade 10 is actually bad, but because I focused all of my energy on things that – looking back – I’ve come to realize actually weren’t so important in the end, and that caused me a lot of unnecessary stress at the time.
I’m writing this blog post to extend a couple tips and reminders that I wish I could tell 15 year old me before I headed off into the sea of 2200 students in my Grade 10 year.
#1. Grade 10 is about learning – try not to beat yourself up over the grades.
Aiming for excellence is a great goal to have, but the thing about Grade 10 is that most of the material you are learning is going to be entirely new, and it’s not unusual for teenagers starting high school to struggle a little bit at the beginning as they adjust to the new environment. A lot changes from junior high to high school and sometimes it takes a little while to get used to your teachers, the new learning style, and to figure out effective study habits. If your grades drop a little bit in your first semester, try not to be too discouraged. In all likelihood, you probably just need some more time to figure out what methods and studying techniques work best for you.
As someone who has graduated from high school, I can say with complete confidence that your grades in Grade 10 are absolutely not indicative of your success later on. The grades that I received in my first year of high school were actually significantly worse than the grades I received in the two years after, which seems counterintuitive (since later years are supposed to be harder) but it kind of makes sense when you think about it.
If you’ve never written a critical essay before, odds are your first one isn’t going to be quite what your teachers want. But the whole point of Grade 10 isn’t to get 80’s and 90’s on every assignment, but to give you an opportunity to try different writing and learning techniques so you can figure out what works for you and hopefully succeed later on. If you are hoping to attend post-secondary, most universities will only look at your Grade 12 (and maybe Grade 11) marks anyway. What that means is that Grade 10 is an opportunity for you to try and (often) fail as you learn the best ways to succeed.
Grade 10 is an opportunity for you to try and (often) fail as you learn the best ways to succeed.”
In Grade 10, I stressed way too much over the numbers on my report card, which caused me to miss out on a lot of social and extracurricular opportunities. In the long run, the grades I received didn’t really matter. What actually mattered was everything that I learned in that first year.
#2. Social groups are not nearly as exclusive by the time you graduate.
Meeting new people and trying to make friends with strangers is one of the most intimidating elements of high school for many teens, especially when cliques seem to form and solidify so quickly. It’s really easy for kids to form their core friend group and then stick to hanging with just those people for the entirety of high school. It’s good to have a solid group of friends you can rely on, but making efforts to branch out a bit and form connections with other people is important too!
I guarantee that by the end of your high school experience, the boundaries around all of the social cliques from your grade 10 year will have loosened quite a bit, which is great! In my experience, teens tend to be a lot more willing to hang out with new people by the end of high school. In my final year of high school, I was hanging out with people that I never would have guessed I would have been talking to in the previous two years.
Branching out can be super intimidating, but my advice to anyone entering high school is to keep an open mind and try to make conversation with as many people as possible, regardless of whether they’re in a different social group than you. You don’t have to be good friends with everyone, but as you become more independent and start trying new activities that your core friends might not be interested in, it’s nice to have a couple other acquaintances to reach out to. Most people will be flattered that you were thinking of them at all!
If you are heading into Grade 10 (or will be soon), I hope that those two tips will be helpful and comforting to know. At the end of the day, Grade 10 is a great year for you to discover what you’re good at, figure out your interests and hobbies, and meet lots of new people. High school doesn’t have to be a purely stressful experience full of homework and exams – there are lots of really cool opportunities for growth and self-discovery.