The Beginning and the End: Freshman Year vs. Senior Year

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For many students, high school is a journey that will never be forgotten. From a geeky, nervous freshman to an over-confident, worn out senior and everything in between, the high school experience is irreplaceable.

In commemoration of Wesleyan’s 2016-  2017 school year, two surveys were conducted: one was sent out to the freshman class, while the other was sent out to the senior class. The freshman survey, containing six questions regarding the current school year, collected responses from 55 students, while the senior survey, containing eight questions regarding the current school year, collected responses from 43 students.

One of the most identifiable characteristics of senior year is the ever-growing “senioritis.” A disease that plagues many second-semester seniors (as well as some first-semester seniors), “Senioritis” has impacted the students’ levels of motivation to work hard through the end of the school year. To give insight into the mind of a second-semester senior, Sarah Adams said, “[During] senior year you enjoy things a lot more, but you also care a lot less about schoolwork.”

Only one senior claimed to have felt the most motivated this year out of all of the years past, while the majority of seniors were only moderately motivated to finish out the school year strong. Roughly 16% of the senior respondents claimed to have a motivation level of “1,” being completely unmotivated to work hard this school year, a surefire diagnosis for “Senioritis.”

Contrarily, the majority of freshmen found their level of motivation to be at a “4,” meaning they are motivated to get the job done, but there is still a little room for improvement. Nine out of the 55 freshman respondents felt that they were the most motivated they have ever been, strongly opposing the lone senior.

In order of least motivated to most motivated, 1 is not motivated at all, 2 is not really motivated, 3 is moderately motivated, 4 is pretty motivated but could work a little harder and 5 is the most motivated a student has ever felt. Manley.
The majority of seniors considered their level of motivation to be “moderate,” with 42% percent considering themselves to be at Level 3 on the motivation scale. Manley.

Looking at senior year as a whole, 74% of seniors deemed their final year of high school the best year yet. Senior Sara Carmichael said, “Senior year was definitely better than freshman year for me, as at this point you [have] figured out what you like [and] who you want to be friends with.”

None of the 43 seniors who participated in the survey considered senior year to be “just another year,” but three students considered their final year of high school to be the worst year yet.

Senior year is known for being the final and best year of high school, and Wesleyan seniors seem to agree, as 74% of seniors agreeing that senior year was in fact the best school year yet. Manley.

Like the seniors, a large majority of freshmen considered their first year of high school to be the best school year yet. As first-year high school students, the freshmen were asked about their favorite part of ninth grade. Nearly 49% of the students credited having more freedom as the best part of their freshman year. Coming in at a four-way tie for second place, club time, peer groups, different course options and the option to visit the Spirit Shop during the school day were a freshman year favorite, each reining in 11% of the votes. Monday Morning Meeting did not seem to be a crowd favorite amongst the freshmen, receiving zero votes.

When asked about how freshman year compared to school years in the past, roughly 42% of the respondents claimed that their first year of high school was their best year yet. Manley.
Freshmen were given eight options, as well as the ability to give their own input, as to what their favorite part of freshman year was. As shown above, the increase in freedom was a fan favorite, with nearly half of the votes. Manley.

In a direct comparison between freshman and senior year, Senior Abbie Lochmandy said, “Freshman year was probably the longest year ever, and senior year was the shortest year ever. Freshman year is great because you are in a new environment, and senior year you have all of the perks of being a senior like off-campus lunch, cheering for your class in almost every assembly, getting out of school like a month early and events like Senior Night.”

In regards to the supposed increasing difficulty of high school, senior Cory Miller said, “[Senior year] is much easier than freshman year. People are more relaxed and do not care as much about what people think.”

As the school year is winding down to an end, many of the freshmen are feeling the effects of a year in high school. Freshman Noah Willoughby said, “I just want it to be over.” Willoughby’s fellow freshman, Liza Yates said, “I [am] tired and just trying to push through!”

As for the seniors, Justin Gustafson cannot   wait for his high school career to come to a close. In fact, Gustafson deemed high school as “largely ineffective because teenagers typically cannot focus for seven hours straight.” Gustafson then went on to say that his one piece of advice for freshmen would be to “direct them to the Georgia Education Department to find suitable alternative options to high school.”

Given that this approach may not be an ideal option for most, three students from the Class of 2017 have provided freshmen who choose to remain enrolled in high school with a piece of advice to help them through their three remaining years.

Jessie Roberts said, “Really invest in your friendships with people because by senior year you [will have] amazing friends and experiences with those people to look back on.”

Noah Young also notes that it is important to “[not] be afraid to try things. Regardless of what people say, do what makes you happy and do activities that help you grow as a person. Once you find the activity you love, stick with it and be the best you can be at it.”

Several freshmen said that they were already stressed about college decisions and keeping sight of their future. As a good reminder, Bailey Edwards said, “It is all going to be okay. Do not stress yourself out about the little things because they will [not] define your entire future.”

Freshman and senior year have their differences, but one constant throughout it all is the people with which one’s high school journey takes place. Relationships, whether they are formed freshman year or senior year, may prove to be the most long-lasting, so it is important for one to remember to cherish their time at Wesleyan and make the best of all of the opportunities provided.

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