Letter to My Freshman Self: Helen Le

Letter to My Freshman Self: Helen Le

Helen Le, Editor-in-Chief

Dear Freshman Helen,
High school. The long-awaited segment of secondary education where the fireworks burst in front of shiny eyes, the hands grasp at opportunities to reshape identities, the actualization of vivid ideas dreamt on a breezy night. New faces, new classes, new teachers, and — most importantly — a new life.
Okay, you might not have dramatized it so, and that’s good, because high school is not all cotton candy and roses. That’s not to say that it’s terrible, either. The saying is trite because it’s true: your experience is what you make of it.
A lot of my regrets don’t have anything to do with having fun at Bear Creek, because you have. Sports, clubs, dances, trips, newspaper, and everything else in between. The only advice I have for you in this department is do more. Join all of the clubs that you have even a slight interest in. Go to more dances with your friends, because they are incredibly fun. PR in track. That’s all I have to say for that.
Your future, though, is extremely important, and I can’t say I was 100 percent prepared to make decisions that will impact the next few years of my life. A lot of what-ifs have entered the playing field now, just because I lacked the self-confidence to dedicate myself to higher goals. They don’t linger in the back of my mind. I’ve made peace with my past self. However, there are some things that I wish I had put more effort into researching or finding out earlier.
For starters, you should really visit more colleges. You won’t have as much time as you think to go to campuses far away after you’ve been accepted, because you only have approximately one month to make a decision, and April is extraordinarily busy. I know it’s hard to research colleges when you don’t know exactly what field you plan to go into, but aim high. You didn’t have a dream college because you were afraid, but you shouldn’t have backed down. You should broaden your horizons: look to the East Coast, or even to the Eastern Hemisphere. You should have more faith in yourself.
Again, it’s easy to say all this in retrospect. Especially since your defining ACT score didn’t arrive until December, close to the deadlines for privates, which was conveniently the time when you were in a foreign country. I just wish you hadn’t given in so easily to what’s easy.
Speaking of standardized tests, you should check out the foreign language requirements for the schools that you are interested in. Many colleges will require proficiency in another language and offer you multiple ways to fulfil that requirement that don’t involve taking courses at the college itself (which saves time and money). Do yourself the favor of taking the SAT Spanish Subject Test right after your sophomore year. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about an AP Spanish exam or even scheduling such a subject test now or thinking about whether a Vietnamese placement test is even possible and how strenuous that would be.
I don’t want to end on a bitter note, though, so I’ll skip through all the mixed feelings I have about graduating soon (finally! and already? are scrambling around in my heart) and focus on the present.
I am proud of you. I am proud of what you have accomplished thus far, and I cannot wait to see where your ambitions, even quiet, will take you. I am glad that you have formed solid bonds with the people around you, and I am excited to see the progress you will make in the world.
Take a deep breath and move right along. You’ll be far before you even know it.
     Love,
Senior Helen