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7 Ways To Get Involved Freshman Year of High School

A group of students jumps on a trail in the woods.

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

The start of high school is intimidating: new faces to recognize in the hallway, new rules of new teachers to memorize, new classrooms to learn the route to.

While, inevitably, there will be nerves and challenges involved as you get accustomed to your high school and find your people and routine, there are certain ways to make getting involved in your high school easier. Here are seven of those ways: 

1. Join clubs

Joining clubs is frequently recommended as a way to get involved, and for good reason; clubs bring together groups of people you share common interests with.

If your school has a club rush or similar event, attend and sign up for all the clubs that sound interesting to you. Or, start your own club if none of the pre-established ones sound appealing to you.

Then, try out all of the clubs for a meeting or two. If some of the clubs aren’t for you, you can drop them. If a few are up your alley, stay in them and continue to get to know the people in the clubs and become more involved with the clubs’ missions. 

2. Have a “why not” mentality 

Whether it be open choir auditions or a swim meet, there’s always a club needing members, a performance wanting an audience, or a team seeking a new addition.

When it comes to events and opportunities that aren’t something you’ve considered or had an interest in before, don’t immediately say no. Instead, attend the football game or join the debate club for a meeting: trying out new opportunities are ultimately low-risk situations that can have great rewards if it turns out you have a lot of fun or meet amazing friends.

You never know what may pique your interest, and as long as you do not promise any long-term commitment to the leaders of the activity and you don’t feel unsafe, there’s little beyond a smidgen of your time to lose in exchange for a potentially fantastic experience. 

3. Sit next to new people

One of the best ways to get involved in high school or any new environment is to get to know as many people as possible. You don’t need to be incredibly close to everybody at your school, but it’s great to expand your circle and get to know lots of people at least a little bit.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply sit next to new people in your classes. Instead of sitting by yourself or sticking with the people you already know, sit next to a new group of people and get to know them during class.

If you have assigned seating, make it a goal every seating chart to become friends with your table mates. Not only will it make class more fun, you’ll also meet friends who you otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to click with. 

What I Learned My Freshman Year of High School

4. Look on social media for opportunities

More and more organizations and businesses are posting and advertising jobs, internships, and campaigns on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter in place of or in addition to more traditional methods of recruitment.

Whether you’re looking to join a political campaign, publish writing, join a non-profit organization, get a new part-time job, or join a fellowship, don’t neglect the power that looking on social media has.

Don’t scroll aimlessly, though–make a list of places you’re interested in, find their social media, and look through them. If you can’t find anything, a polite DM can be the perfect way to find out about opportunities you couldn’t find on their page.

It’s also worth the time to follow and regularly check pages that do the research and collecting of youth opportunities for you, like Publish Youth and Niche. 

5. Check what counselors and teachers have posted

Oftentimes, your school’s counselors and teachers will post opportunities sent to them on either a virtual learning space like Powerschool or Google Classroom or will have physical flyers posted on bulletin boards by their rooms.

While you won’t be interested in or even qualify for all of the opportunities posted, the posted resources are a great place to look periodically. The majority of the resources will be geared towards high school students, which is a helpful asset, as finding youth-focused opportunities can often be the hardest part of the process.

The counselor or teacher who posted the opportunity is a great point of contact if you have follow up questions about the program or need a recommendation letter from someone familiar with the cause.

6. Opt for group work

Oftentimes, you’ll be offered the choice between working by yourself or as part of a larger group, be it in gathering donations for a bake sale or preparing a science project.

While working by yourself might be more reliable and efficient, challenge yourself to opt for group work as often as possible. You’ll learn tons about other people and their interests and personalities, even if you only are in a group with them for 30 minutes once a week.

If group work isn’t initially an option, it never hurts to ask if anyone would like to collaborate. If everyone is running lines individually during play rehearsal, there’s no harm in asking if anybody would like to partner up and check each other’s accuracy.

At worst, everybody will continue working individually. At best, you’ll get to know someone who you would have never otherwise talked to or worked with.

7. Follow in the footsteps of other (older) students

Lastly, it never hurts to ask what other students have done and are doing. If you have an older sibling, friend, or mentor who you admire the involvement of, ask them what extracurriculars they did and classes they took, and then see if you’d be interested in any of those options.

Ask them for advice and places to look for jobs and internships. If a classmate of yours has similar interests to you, reach out to them and ask if they know of any unique opportunities to submit writing, try out for a musical, or get extra coaching.

Nine times out of ten, people want to help each other out and will volunteer any information that they know!

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Author: Maya Henry

Maya Henry (she/her) is a happy crier and cherry tomato enthusiast attending high school in California. She aims to be a political journalist or policy analyst when she's done with school, and when not taking pictures of her dog, you'll find her reading a historical fiction novel, baking pumpkin bread, or debating the merits of communism with her brother.