How to Survive Freshman Year: Online Learning Edition
The stress of school can pile up on students’ shoulders, especially when it’s their first time in an unfamiliar school with hundreds of other new students. Making friends the old fashioned face-to-face way is already difficult enough, but only having communication via Google Classroom and Zoom can further challenge the process. Before, people could compliment someone's shirt and start a conversation, naturally turning from strangers into acquaintances, but the new format of Zoom makes it difficult to have small interactions, especially when classmates are muted and lessons require attention at all times.
Not only is making friends difficult, but the significant amount of workload high schoolers receive is no secret. Middle schoolers generally receive around an hour of homework daily with soft deadlines, but high schoolers have 4-5 hours of homework plus tests and quizzes weekly, often overwhelming some students. The class of 2025 does not have an easy year ahead of them, but these problems are affecting freshmen all over the country. Luckily mental health professionals have advice to lessen the load of difficulties that come with being a freshman.
Supervisor of Student Assistance and Wellness Mrs. Amy Finkelstein said, “Joining clubs is a great way to stay connected and find new people who care about the same things you do! South Brunswick offers several clubs and activities that can be found on our Campus Center. There is one for everyone, whether you like learning about politics or STEM. Clubs are also great because there are both newcomers and older kids who can act as mentors and give advice on classes or how high school works”.
If students want to attend clubs that focus on mental health, the Public Health Club and Youth to Youth group are organizations that focus on making connections with others, being mindful of safety precautions and maintaining a healthy balance of both physical and mental health.
Public Health Co-President Aditi Gorthy said, “Youth to Youth is a very welcoming community and you can really just talk about anything. There are so many advisors and even if you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, [advisor] Mr. [Aaron] Millman can connect you to students who can! They focus on change and loss, family death and crisis management, and also if you just need to talk to someone because you’re overwhelmed.”
Regarding stress, students can dedicate time for small breaks while studying or between classes. According to Nations Health, sitting down in front of a laptop and staring at a screen for a long amount of time can result in visual fatigue and feeling lethargic. Even closing your laptop to get up and stretch, going on a quick walk or running down a few stairs can help your mind and body feel better. Sometimes all you need is to step away from a laptop and get some fresh air.
Maintaining organizational skills is a difficult task especially when there are deadlines for almost everything; Pay to Participate, school pictures, tests and quizzes and juggling your social life gets tricky.
Mrs. Finkelstein said, “We are in the process of creating a new group for kids who are overwhelmed with grades, tests and schedules that would focus on helping kids stay organized and find methods that work for each individual.”
For more information about mental health, visit South Brunswick High Schools Campus Center.