Back to School Survival Guide

New friends. New teachers. New anxieties.

While going back to school can be fun and filled with new experiences, it also can be full of new things to stress over.

Whether you're an anxious freshman or a laid-back senior, chances are, you could use some advice. Members of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program solicited these words of wisdom just for you.

How many activities/clubs should I sign up for? How much is too much?

Mark Cazares, junior, Davis High School

"You should sign up for as many activities as you can handle. There is no limit on how many you can do. You should do as many as you can without interfering with school and other activities you are interested in. The more activities, the better you feel and the better your college résumé looks."

Nicole Smyth, senior, Beyer High School

"When wanting to get involved at school, it is good to sign up for all of the activities that you are interested in. You should sign up for clubs that grab your interest and sports that you enjoy playing in your spare time. You should even try getting involved in your student government; that way, you know what's going on in your school. You can't go wrong by signing up for too many things, just as long as you have fun and save time to study."

Patrick Barbour, senior, Ripon High School

"A student should sign up for as many activities as his/her own schedule can handle. Every club/activity teaches a person valuable lessons. By getting involved in as many things as possible, you learn how to interact better with others and how to successfully manage your life and time. There is never a set number of activities, it just depends on how much each activity/club may take to get the job done. A person will know when they have too many activities/clubs on their plate when you can no longer focus on what is important, such as family and school. Never should a certain activity start to come before other things that were once number one in your life. When signing up for an activity/club, make sure you are going to be committed and ready to give up time for that specific activity/club and also most definitely remembering to have time for other activities/clubs you might already be devoted to. Always remember that activities/clubs are the way to connect yourself to the rest of the world and they are a great thing to have in your life."

Is your senior year a good time to kick back and relax?

Matt Holcomb, graduate, Oakdale High School

"Well, yes and no. I actually believe that your senior year ought to be a great experience! Get out there! Get involved, meet more friends, keep an open mind about what school you wish to attend and always make sure what goes on your college transcripts as well as your application is impressive. Most of all, search for scholarships as if you were searching for buried treasure. Because in the end, that is what it really is. You will be applying for lots of things senior year; don't let it stress you out, and pay attention to your academics. You can relax after finals and start looking forward to a good summer. Most importantly, though, always pursue what you want. Never let people say you can't do something!"

Bryce Aquino, graduate, Modesto High School

"While senior year can be incredibly fun, it's definitely not a year to 'kick back' and forget about your schoolwork. There are so many things that need to be done for college (last-minute testing, applications galore, scholarship essay, etc.) and that alone is a rather stressful process. You don't need extra stress from school on top of it. Plus, you need to keep your grades up for graduation requirements. But relax when you can and take many opportunities to be with your friends; it's everyone's last year all together, try to enjoy it the fullest."

Lizzy De Boer, graduate, Modesto High School

"You might think that you can just kick back your senior year and watch everything fall into place, but that's such a misconception. Your senior year will be the busiest year out all four years. There is no way to just chill and slide through if you are planning to go to a four-year college. You have to make sure your ACT and SATs are good enough, and then you have college applications. Not to mention the hundreds of scholarship applications that will have to go out right around that time. You also have to find those scholarships that you want to apply for and all that they need for the application. Your senior will be the busiest and most hectic, but it will be the most fulfilling feeling when you get into to ANY college. Knowing that someone wants you is a great feeling. Keep up the good work and it will certainly pay off. Slack off and you'll be sorry you did."

Carolynn Lewis, graduate, Escalon High

"Not really -- you have to make sure you work hard so you can get into the college you want. Yes, it is the best year of high school, but it is the most important. I had fun but I worked hard and made sure I had time for my homework and also my fun."

Now that I'm in high school, how should I relate to my teachers?

Tim Day, sophomore, Modesto High School

"Now that I'm in high school, I believe my relationship with the teachers is important. After all, they are in charge of my grade. It's not a matter of HOW to relate to them, it's that you SHOULD relate to them."

Claire Thomas, sophomore, Modesto High School

"Not many teens these days like homework, and some think that our teachers give us homework only to annoy us. Believe it or not, just as we spend hours and hours doing our various homework assignments, from essays to reports to take-home quizzes, our teachers spend hours and hours grading those assignments. Our teachers do just as much work as we do, perhaps even more."

How do you prioritize your time?

Sarah Wong, sophomore, Modesto High School

"I guess what I do is I see what needs to be done first. See what's due soonest, and have a calendar in your mind. You should try to get things done all at once so you don't have to worry about getting it done later."

Megan Mizuno, sophomore, Modesto High School

"Homework is the most important thing to get done. If you have a lot of activities, do it when you can between them. Don't procrastinate, because if you do, that's when you have to stay up late to do work."

Aimee Hutton, junior, Downey High School

"I balance homework with fun and my extracurricular activities by doing what I have to. Sometimes listening to your parents is beneficial in getting work done."

When should I start thinking about college?

Alex Bonte, senior, Downey High

"I think you should start, well, basically at birth. But really, you should start when you enter high school."

Nou Xiong, senior, Downey High

"I think the best time to start thinking about college is most likely your junior year. You only have one year left, so you should definitely start planning for college."

What's the best way to meet new friends while keeping your old friends?

Abbey Ringler, junior, Johansen High

"The more you get out and get involved, the more people you will meet. Once you have met new friends, introduce them to your old friends. Hopefully, they will get along, so you don't have to choose between them."

Meagan Draper, senior, Downey High School

"You can always attempt to introduce your old friends to your new friends. They have something in common -- your friendship."

Max Wu, junior, Beyer High School

"Well, one of the best ways to meet new friends would be to do a sport or become active in the school. But to keep your old friends, too, you could hang out with both your old and new friends by introducing them to each other."