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Dear high school freshmen


Hello, fellow frosh!

Now, of course, we aren’t the same kind of frosh. After all, our grade does have four more years of experience than y’all (and pain — so much pain — from testing, of course). But, since we’re (kind of) in the same boat, the Stanford Class of 2022 decided to write you all a letter with the things we wish we would’ve known when we were in your shoes.

Here goes.

Going through high school is tough, especially with all the changes that teenagers experience with their bodies and opinions. Everyone is so self-conscious and competitive while trying to stand out that they often lose sight of the things that truly matter. You have to be focused on grades and extracurriculars and your now-needed good hygiene and your friends and your family and, maybe, your work.

It’s a lot.

But sometimes, you have to set priorities. And the first one should be yourself. With that, here’s some advice on self-care from yours truly, the StanFam:

“Give yourself a break!”

“Stay true to yourself in high school and present yourself honestly in your application and you’ll get into a school that fits you well.”

“Don’t stress too much – [this] doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take things seriously, but constantly over-stressing everything won’t help you academically or emotionally. Don’t always take everything so seriously, take time to breathe and laugh, and things will work out.”

“Challenge yourself academically and in your extracurriculars, but allow yourself time to breathe, relax and take care of yourself. Self-care isn’t collapsing once you’ve reached the finish line — it’s taking breaks along the way so you don’t have to collapse at all.”

Self-care is important. Taking care of your physical and mental health will keep you productive and, more important, happy during your short years in high school (and they will be short, trust us). These things should be a priority over anything else because if self-care is a mess, so is everything else.

Unsurprisingly, though, most of you will still worry about grades and extracurriculars. Don’t stress, though, because we have advice on that, too!

“[Don’t] forget your freshman grades affect your final GPA.”

“Pursue both breadth and depth!”

“Don’t get caught up in overcompensating by trying to keep up with a million clubs – join a bunch, initially, to find what you actually enjoy, and then focus on those. Drop the rest.”

“Diversify your choices and expand your horizons at the start before focusing/zeroing on a specific set of choices and committing to them. Don’t let assumptions or past history make you rule out choices, be it in academics, extracurriculars or even just socially.”

“Find what you’re passionate about and pursue it.”

“There’s always that elevated level you can reach no matter how young you are. Differentiate yourself from the onset of high school, don’t wait until you’re a couple years in to establish yourself. Take initiative from freshman year to be exceptional.”

And then there’s the issue of friends. We’ve been there, feeling the need to impress every peer we meet. Shying away from side-eyes in the hallway. Being awkwardly unsure of what to say and when to say it. Being afraid of the upperclassmen. So, we have advice on that too.

“Don’t make decisions based on others: be yourself even if that means going the opposite direction of others’ paths.”

“Find a solid group of friends!”

“Don’t compare yourself to others… Just focus on your own schoolwork/passions/friends, do what you love and be true to yourself.”

“If others denigrate you for being a nerd, so be it. Stay faithful to your academics, and you will be the classmate they all remember as going to that top university.”

High school will be rough at times. It sucks to admit that, but it will be. But these will be some of the best four years of your life. Now is the youngest you’ll ever be. High school is short — life is short.

“Enjoy every moment, keep an open mind and just take every opportunity to make new friends and try new things.”

Additionally, while striving for success, don’t let your ambition cloud over what’s truly important in life, which is staying true to who you are and who you want to be. Focus on the future, of course, but also focus on the now while it’s still here.

And please remember:

“Do things that scare you and take risks! If nothing else, it’ll make for some good stories.”

And trust us: we all have some good stories.



The Stanford Class of 2022

Contact Damian Marlow at ddrue ‘at’

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