The transitional period between middle school and high school can be a stressful time for students and parents alike. This moment in a child’s life is filled with a range of uncertainties. Students are constantly asking themselves whether they’re going to be able to make new friends, whether they’re going to enjoy and do well in their classes, and whether they’re going to be able to accomplish the goals that they’ve set for themselves.
If you’re making the plunge into the high school world for the first time, and you’re feeling a little apprehensive about the whole thing – then it’s important to remember you’re not alone.
Chances are that literally every other student in your class is going through the exact same experience. What’s more, it’s worth keeping in mind that you’re only going to feel this anxious temporarily. Once you’ve gotten into your new high school and started getting used to your new schedule, you’ll find that everything becomes second nature.
In the meantime, we’ve put together a few tips that could help you to make that all-important change from being a middle-school student, to becoming a high-school student.
1. Speak to Other People
If you have concerns, then don’t be afraid to share them with other people. It’s up to you who you feel most comfortable talking to. Some students find that they prefer conversations with their friends rather than their parents, whereas others would rather get advice from mom or dad. In some situations, you might consider speaking to a guidance counselor at your school, or new school for more advice on how you can prepare yourself for a change in scenery.
At Hyde, a good person to speak with is your Discovery Group leader. You’ll be sharing your challenges and successes with your Discovery Group, but when you are new at school, it might feel more comfortable to speak with the leader beforehand one-on-one.
Usually, simply speaking to someone also about your concerns will be enough to put your mind at rest. The people that you talk to should be able to reassure you that you’re not alone and that you’ll be fine – no matter what happens.
2. Learn the Ropes
One of the most worrying parts about moving from middle school to high school is that you need to work according to an entirely new schedule. There’ll be a new campus to explore, new classes to think about, and an entirely new range of students and teachers to get to know. Fortunately, most schools around the U.S. have some manner of freshman orientation program that will allow freshmen time to get used to their new school when they’re making the switch. Hyde runs New Student Orientation days where you will be partnered with current students to learn the ropes.
Find out whether your new high school is comfortable with you coming in early to try out new locker combinations, check out the dorms if it’s boarding school, locate classrooms, and get more comfortable with your surroundings. This might mean visiting your soon-to-be high school a couple of times during the summer – but that extra effort is worth it if it’s going to banish some of your transitional stress.
If you are starting at Hyde in the fall, we definitely suggest participating in Summer Leadership Challenge in July. This program will allow you to get comfortable on campus while meeting new friends and having fun.
If you already have your schedule set up, then you could even take a day to test out the experience of what an average school experience will be like. In other words, walk through the building as though you were coming and going from your classes.
While you’re learning the ropes at your new school, remember to consider things like transportation, and where you’re going to go for lunch. These things might need to be planned out and tested ahead of time too!
3. Keep your Brain Sharp
All students go through the same phenomenon over the summer period where their brains seem to switch off and move from “academic” mode, to “break” mode. During this time, it can be difficult for teenagers to shake themselves out of that summer funk and get ready for learning all over again. If you’re worried about being able to keep up with the new challenges and courses that you’ll be taking in high school, then a great way to prepare is to look up some information ahead of time.
Speak to your teachers about the kinds of things you’re going to be covering in class, and take an hour out each day to research those topics and learn more about them. You don’t have to test yourself on the subjects or do any difficult tasks – but this should help you get back into the mindset for learning. It could also mean that when it comes time to start focusing again – the experience won’t be so much of a shock.
4. Consider How You’re Going to Establish Routines
This may be something that you should talk through with your parent. In boarding schools, students have the benefit of having their routines laid out for them in advance. That way, they can quickly fall into a pattern that feels familiar and comfortable – regardless of what level their education is at.
However, in other situations, you may be left to schedule your own timetables and plans around your classes, and this means being sensible – without piling too much onto your plate.
Think carefully about how you’re going to balance classes, homework, after-school activities, social life and relaxation. Some students give themselves far too much to focus on at once – and end up burning out early, whereas others fail to challenge themselves at all because they’re worried they won’t be able to cope with high school life.
One important thing to remember is that as long as you have your classes and homework time figured out – you can always change other things along the way. If you take on too many after-school activities, to begin with, then you can get rid of some of the ones that you don’t enjoy as much. On the other hand, if you find yourself struggling to find ways to stay social, then you could always join new teams and groups as you make new friends.
5. Remember that It’s Going to Take Time
Finally, try to keep in mind that changing your entire schedule is going to take some time to get used to. Every student finds themselves feeling overwhelmed and confused when they make the transition from middle school to high school because the atmosphere is completely different. The academic standards of high school are higher, there are new students everywhere, and an increased sense of competition in the air. That’s why many students earn their lowest GPA during freshman year – before they begin to figure out their routine.
Don’t get upset or frustrated if you don’t get the hang of your new school life immediately. Remember that things will quickly start to feel better as you turn up to classes every day and learn more about your routine. At the same time, be sure to monitor your performance and keep an eye on periods where your performance starts to drop. Sometimes, this might be a sign that you’re not paying enough attention to your school work, or that you aren’t organized enough. Sometimes, it may be a sign that you need to give yourself a break.
Transitions are difficult, and the transition from middle to high school is a big one. Make your transition as comfortable as possible by trying out some of these tips, and remember to take a deep breath and know that you are not alone. Welcome to high school!