Things I Wish I Knew Before Sophomore Year

It’s about that time, again… The days are getting longer, tests are getting more cumulative, and impending thoughts of “next school year” are becoming not so far off. For some rising sophomores, 10th grade may seem like a scary, imminent death ride. For others, it may seem like just another year of the same old. But, from three current sophomores who mostly survived to all current freshmen, there are some things we wish we had known before we started 10th grade:

Go to Bed Already
Sleep. Arguably the best part of some of our days, and the most important. Unfortunately, most of us end up staying up far later than we know we should, until our eyes are too heavy to keep open and we have to read a sentence at least fifty times before being able to fully comprehend it. Why do we do this? Maybe because we have an exam the next day, or an essay due at midnight, or because night-time is the only time there is to binge-watch a favorite show. Nevertheless, sleep truly is more important than an hour or two hours or three hours more of studying, when you’d end up being too tired to remember the information you studied the next day anyhow. So, just go to bed. You’ll feel better the next day with more sleep, it’s not a myth.

Eat, Eat, Eat!
We often talk about the importance of eating food before your body undergoes physical stress—we all know to never run a marathon on an empty stomach (or, at all). Just as importantly, you always need to eat food, especially when studying or taking tests. With so much on your plate before stressful school events and presentations, eating breakfast the morning of a test can slip your mind. But, your body and brain work best when they’ve been nourished, so take special care to not skip eating.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up
We’ve all been there at one point or another. We all know that feeling. Whether you thought you originally did well, or you had some idea that maybe you didn’t, it’s always one of the worst feelings when you get a grade that you feel disappointed in. But don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s far easier said than done, but the fact of the matter is that one bad grade really, truly will not matter. So if you need to, have a good cry, and then move on. Everything will work itself out.

Also, by the same token, take serious advantage of office hours even if just to study. It’s always best to try and get some time in completing practice problems and going over material when you have your teacher right there to help you out or clarify anything if needed.

Don’t Cram… Just Don’t
Here’s the thing about studying for tests: you could cram for it the night before, and maybe even do well the next day. But, you’ll be running on no sleep, won’t be able to ask your teachers or classmates for help (since they’ll be snoring away), and in the long run, you’ll have to relearn all the content since it likely won’t stick. Contrarily, if you study a little bit every day for a week or so leading up to a test, you’ll be less stressed, have more time to comprehend the material, and when it comes to cumulative tests and finals, you won’t have to completely relearn the information as you’ll still remember large portions of it.

High Risk, Low Reward
If you are to take one thing away from this article, let it be this: do not take an AP unless you are genuinely interested in the subject. Chances are, you’ve probably heard this one before, but there really is a great amount of truth to it. You don’t want to find yourself stuck in an AP class that is not only brutally hard, but where you also despise the subject. That’s the recipe for a pretty miserable school year. The truth is, taking an AP class that you won’t be able to enjoy just isn’t worth the minuscule boost to your GPA.

Branch Out
Sophomore year is the perfect year to make new friends, take new classes, and join new clubs. There’s much more diversity in your class schedule than in years past, meaning you’ll be in class with people you haven’t had the chance to get to know prior to sophomore year. That’s a good thing–instead of relying solely on the friends you go into the year with, talk to new people and try to make new friends in your classes, clubs, and sports teams. You’ll make fantastic new friends, learn more about yourself and your interests, and overall have a much more interesting year and certainly more fun in the classes you went into not knowing anyone in.

Schedule Time for Things You Actually Want to Do
I know, I know–scheduling time to hang out with friends, read, or rewatch the second season of “Bridgerton” sounds, well, sad. But, honestly, some months of sophomore year felt like a truck was barreling our way the entire time, and it was all too easy to sacrifice everything we actually enjoyed to hunker down and study. So, while it doesn’t have to be a specific and nonpermeable block on your schedule dedicated to doing something that makes you happy, it is important to set aside time every day and on the weekends to do something that brings you joy. It could be as small as making it a habit to read a book for fun for 30 minutes before you go to bed every night, or resolving to see at least one friend every weekend. Whatever it is, find a way to take care of yourself and your serotonin, even during weeks when you are so stressed you can’t imagine leaving your house.

Naps Aren’t Just for Preschoolers
Sometimes, after a long day, a power nap is exactly what you need when you get home from school. They’re a nice break, allow your brain to pause on its constant intake of new information, and help you approach homework with more energy than you had pre-nap. And, who doesn’t want a few minutes of shuteye when given the chance?