So what's high school really like? Is there more work? More stress? Will it be
difficult going from being one of the oldest middle school students to one of the
youngest high schoolers?
If you're having thoughts like these, you're not alone: Lots of other freshmen
are feeling the same way you are — you're all starting out in a new place. With
that in mind, here are a few topics that commonly worry incoming freshmen and some
things you might want to know about them.
Starting Out at a New School
You may not know a lot of people when you start high school. Maybe your friends
from middle school are going to a different high school. Even if you know other freshmen,
you might feel nervous that you don't know any upperclassmen. How are you going to
make friends among this sea of unknown faces?
Most high schools hold a freshman orientation before school actually starts. These
are helpful not only because you learn your way around the building and get to meet
some of your teachers, but you also get to meet fellow freshmen. That way, when you
show up on your first day of school, you may already recognize a few familiar faces.
If you think it might help, tour your school another time before or after orientation
to make sure you have a good sense for where your classes, locker, etc., are.
When you talk to people at orientation, you'll probably find that a lot of them
are feeling just like you are. They're all new to the school and don't know what to
expect. Talking about a common concern with your classmates can spark new friendships.
Learning Inside the Classroom
How about the workload in high school — is it a lot harder? Again, this is
something your classmates are probably worried about, too.
The work in high school builds on what you learned in middle school, giving you
a more advanced knowledge of many academic subjects. So you may find you have more
work to do or that it's a bit more challenging. But these challenges can make you
feel less bored with the usual routine — it feels great when you've mastered
something really tough. Maybe you'll find a new appreciation for biology or discover
a passion for literature.
If you ever find your work too overwhelming, teachers and tutors are available
for extra help. While you have more independence as a high school student than you
might have had in middle school, there are still many resources to fall back on if
you feel the work is too much or if there's something you don't understand.
High school also has more extracurriculars than middle school did, such as clubs,
music and theater groups, student government, and sports teams. This is a fantastic
time to explore your interests and try new things. Who said school has to be all work
and no play?
These activities may take place before or after school, or during free periods
or study halls. Because of this, it helps to sharpen your time management skills in
your first year. Extracurricular activities are great, but remember to leave free
time for yourself. Everybody needs some downtime.
Learning Outside the Classroom
High school is a time of increasing independence and responsibility. As in middle
school, you or your friends may have some tough times. But if you ever find that personal
issues get really overwhelming, find someone to talk to. Just because you're becoming
more independent does not mean you're alone.
Friends and parents can be great resources, but sometimes that's not enough. School
counselors or therapists can be very helpful if you want to talk with someone outside
of your friends and family. So many people are available to help you.
Middle school taught you the basics of academics, time management, and social skills
while providing you with a little extra support and guidance — kind of like
a bicycle with training wheels. High school gives you the chance to take off those
training wheels and learn how to be more independent.
It's perfectly OK if you're nervous at first. Even if you don't get off to the
best start, that's normal, too — everybody's a bit wobbly the first time they
take off their training wheels. Just be patient and keep trying. Once you've adjusted
to your new independence, you may find you can go farther than you ever imagined.