Starting high school is a thrilling time for students – new classes, new course topics, new opportunities, and new friends! High school is when a child begins to have some choice in their educational pursuits and extracurriculars, and it can be inspiring.
With all the excitement, transitional changes can also seem overwhelming to any new student. Instead of focusing on the sheer number of new changes, focus on personal reflection and leveraging strategies to facilitate a smooth transition to high school.
Before diving into a few tips and strategies, let’s briefly review the most significant differences between 8th grade and 9th grade.
8th Grade vs 9th Grade: What’s the Biggest Difference?
Starting a new grade means your classes will get more complicated and you’ll need to learn how to organize your work. Taking notes is essential in high school. Keeping all of your notes tidy each semester can be tricky, so staying organized from the very beginning can help make your first midterm exam easier to study with an organized system.
Class structure and daily formats might differ from what you experienced in 8th grade. It might take a week or two to get used to different classes and homework schedules or where you like to sit during lunch. Just remember – every other freshman is going through the same thing. And the older students were once first-year students, too!
Self-Reflection: Who Am I and What Am I Good At?
As a high school student, you’re a young adult now. You have choices you will make in high school, and some options will not be easy. Ask yourself:
- Who am I today, and who do I want to become?
- What opportunities do I have at my new school?
- How can high school help me achieve these goals?
- What types of subjects interest me?
- What skills do I have that could be further developed?
- How can high school help me achieve these goals?
You are unique, and you have a custom set of skills and talents to help you succeed in life. Now is a great time to start thinking about who you are and who you want to be. Self-reflection will enable you to choose targeted courses and extracurriculars to help hone your skills. You might even find out you don’t like a particular topic as much as you thought you would. And that’s okay!
High school is structured with different periods during the day, varying course options and levels, and after-school activities. Adding intention to why you are taking one class over another, and what qualities you bring to a group activity will help distinguish what piques your interests.
While we each have talents, ambitious students must realize that they are gifted in different ways and bring a unique combination of strengths and personalities to each club or classroom.
Socialize to Ease the Transition
Whether you are shy or outgoing, it’s easy to meet new friends! And while not every other student will be your best friend, your classmates are all going through the same transition that you are.
High school might bring new people into your life that have a different background or home life than you had, or your friends had, in middle school. It’s essential to bring kindness with you and an openness to learn in the classroom, and from your new classmates.
Remember, too, that teachers are there to help. If you have questions about classes, new friends, rules, or where your classroom is, ask! A teacher’s entire job is to help you learn and succeed. The first few days are full of change for everyone in high school – even the teachers. A high school campus tour is an excellent opportunity for 8th graders to see the campus and forge connections with the students and staff members that will shape their experiences in the years to come.
Tips from 9th Graders to Facilitate a Smooth Transition
Alumni and seasoned students who have already made the transition had some excellent advice for 8th graders. Here is a thoughtfully curated list of the most insightful tips.
- Make a friend in each class, so you have someone to share notes with if one of you is absent from class.
- Write down upcoming homework and projects in a planner or agenda to stay on top of due dates and deadlines.
- Get involved! Joining new groups and clubs is a great way to meet new friends and explore new interests. You might even find something completely new you’re good at.
- Start service hours sooner rather than later. It’s fun to volunteer and get involved in the community.
- Be prepared for more homework than in 8th Grade, and stay organized to prioritize homework and extracurriculars. If you find a particular course hard to keep up with, talk to your teacher.
- Peer pressure sometimes exists, but you are your own best advocate. It’s up to you to act how you know is right. Listen to your heart, and follow it.
- Keep a separate binder or notebook for each class to stay organized.
> Learn 6 tips to help you get more involved in extracurricular activities.
Proactive Planning: Simplifying the Middle to High School Transition
High school is an exciting new chapter in your life. Embrace a forward-thinking mindset and treat your summer as a preparation period. Give your summer structure with responsibilities such as band camp, sports teams, volunteer work, and continuous summer reading. Keeping your academic and social skills sharp over the summer will make the transition to the classroom more manageable.
Register for a virtual tour and information session to learn more about what to expect as a freshman at Paraclete Catholic High School.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 26, 2017, and has been updated for accuracy and current best practices.