High School Networking Starts Now!
Transitioning to high school can be can be rather overwhelming for new students. Sitting through long classes with new teachers is challenging enough, but getting used to the social aspects of school can be even tougher. If you are new to the area and school, you probably don’t have any friends there. And even if you are lucky and know some friends from middle school, now is the time for “high school networking” – just another word for getting to know new people and making new friends – and embrace the fact that your world is getting bigger.
You may already be connected to friends on social media, but your high school network is going to be the start of your personal network for life – so don’t take it for granted! While you may end with having everyone in school as a “friend” or a follower somewhere, you know it is not meaningful unless they know you as an individual, so make an effort to connect and get to know them in person first.
Your network is both fun and useful to you and here are some easy ways to get started.
Friend Your Teachers
Students benefit dramatically from getting to know their teachers, but most don’t take the time to do this. Since most high school teachers in public schools can have around 150 or more students during a semester, you need to help your teacher remember you. When you make an effort to connect with the teacher, it will help you stand out amidst all the others who sit silently in class.
There are several things that you can do to get to know your teachers. First, pick a couple of them who seem more approachable, which would make it easier for you. Then pick a teacher for a subject you actually care about and may consider as a major (planning ahead for teacher recommendations!). Send your teacher an email, or hang back after class, or meet during “office hours” or other pre-set collaboration times. You can ask for help or something general, like asking an English teacher to suggest a favorite book or a science teacher to comment on an exciting news item.
Getting to know at least a few teachers makes you more confident at school, and the best teachers are the ones you are going to be happy staying in touch with all your life!
Grab Lunch And Make Friends
Another difficult part of school is getting through the lunchroom. When students enter high school, they are often surprised that their schools have more than one lunch session. Large schools can have three or four different lunch times. So, while you may not always have lunch with your existing friends, you take advantage of the opportunity to make new ones. Get to know students that are in your pre-lunch class so you have someone to walk to the cafeteria with and most likely sit together for lunch. Keep in mind that you’re not the only one feeling nervous about not knowing anyone at lunch – most other students are in same position.
On other thing, try to get outside of your comfort zone and meet people who are not just like you. You learn so much more from talking to people with different perspectives, so make it a point to seek out students who may zig while you zag!
High Schools Have Playgroups Too
Extracurriculars. That’s how you can “play” with a group of students who share the same interest, and get to make new friends. Most schools have something for everyone. If you are athletic, join the sport of your choice. If you love the arts, visual or performing, you’ll have band, theater and arts groups to check out. If you are into social causes, there will be groups that will welcome another passionate volunteer. There are even academically oriented groups, from Shakespeare to Robotics, for those who feel they don’t get enough of a subject in class.
If all else fails, start your own group – it shows leadership! If you have questions about a group, asking other students or the teacher sponsor will be another way for you to get to know more people who are involved in something that you are care about. The friends you make over shared interests are very likely to be the friends you stay in touch with for decades to come.
Here’s the takeaway: school is all about your education. But, education is not just from books or computer screens. Your time getting an education will be so much more enjoyable and productive if you have people to share it with you. Taking the time to make connections with teachers and friends with other students, will make a huge difference to you for the next four years and beyond. So go ahead, seize the day/month/year and start building your own quality network of awesome people now!
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