A Fresh Perspective: How Freshmen Survived Their First Year

By: Anjuli Niyogi and Leanna Yu, Staff Writers

Before entering Mills, many freshmen held the perception that high school would be similar to the image portrayed by teen movies everywhere: intimidating people mixed with harder courses, the fear of being alone, making new friends, and fitting in. After interviewing a variety of students from our current freshmen class, we can conclude that the depiction of high school culture in media could not have been more wrong about Mills.

When the current freshmen first arrived at Mills, they were surprised by how supportive and welcoming the Mills community was. Emily Leung commented, “I was expecting there to be a lot of intimidating upperclassmen and a feeling that I wouldn’t belong, but after my first week, I loved my classes and the friendly environment Mills created.” Even incoming freshmen who did not attend schools in the Millbrae area were able to adjust and settle in. Brielle Lam said, “Even as a student who didn’t go to Taylor Middle School, it wasn’t hard fitting in. It was easy making new friends, and I enjoyed getting to know so many new people.” In high school, we discovered that people are more open to exploring new identities, which allowed us to forge our own individuality during this critical time of intellectual and emotional growth. Personally, we were optimistic for the new year. We knew freshman year would require some transitioning in terms of joining social groups, classes, sports, and much more. As this year was all about new beginnings and friendships, keeping an open mind was the best way to adapt to these fun and exciting changes.  

When asked about Mills’ academic reputation, many freshmen responded that they were extremely worried about Mills’ competitive streak and rigorous courses. Ryan Kwong mentioned, “I was expecting what I’d seen in the movies about competitive schools. I thought students would be changing answers on people’s assignments and going to great extents to sabotage their grades. In reality, I think students simply push each other to do better.” Many freshmen have already noted that students at Mills have an unspoken need to “be the best.” In other words, many students simply have a strong desire to excel in the activities that they pursue and wish to do so in a manner that proves themselves different from their classmates. Because so many students have this wish, Mills’ cutthroat academic reputation remains standing.

Furthermore, many students have shared their personal tips for completing freshman year. The easiest way to get through the school year, as many have stated, is through the strong support systems developed through friends. Madison Wong stated, “My friends definitely helped me through this year. Also, the upperclassmen in my cross country team in the beginning of the year really helped.” The warm welcome we have received from the Mills community made the transition to a new setting much smoother. By the spring semester, school was already flying by because of the friends everyone made. Now that the end of the school year is approaching, we wonder where the time has gone. Jadyn Fowler reflected by saying, “This year went by so fast, mainly due to the support of my friends and peers.”

Contrary to popular perception, freshmen year was an enriching, fun experience. Many have even said that high school is more enjoyable than middle school, despite the higher stakes and stress levels to come in the future. Chloe Xu commented on how being the youngest in high school does come with its perks, “I’m going to miss freshman year. People don’t expect too much out of you, so you can get away with a lot.” Brian He explained how he appreciates having upperclassmen to look up to; “I’ve learned so much from my fellow upperclassmen, watching them achieve amazing things, whether it be in athletics, academics, helping the community, plans for the future, and so much more. It’s a bit scary knowing one day we’ll be the ones inspiring underclassmen.”

Whether freshmen enjoyed the year or not, we have already completed one out of the four years of high school. With this school year coming to an end, we can confidently say that we successfully survived our freshman year.

Photo Credits: Hannah Kwong, Freshman Class President

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