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Mastering High School Transitions Smoothly

For many students, the transition from middle school to high school is a scary one. But it’s important to remember that the anxieties and feelings that come with this change are normal.

It’s also a good idea to find someone to talk to. This person can be a friend, teacher, or parent who will offer advice and guidance.

Freshman Year

For students starting high school, freshman year is often a whirlwind of emotions. This transformative year is a time to build a social network, get accustomed to higher expectations academically, and begin planning for--not obsessing over--the college admissions process.

Students in their first year of high school are called freshmen, and they are usually referred to by their grade-year (9th graders). The next year is sophomore year, followed by junior year, then senior year (12th grade).

Although college doesn't care as much about freshman grades, students should take this critical transition seriously and focus on building good study habits and learning how to manage a busy schedule. In addition, getting involved in extracurricular activities is a great way to meet people and make new friends.

Senior Year

For many students, senior year is a time of lasts. They’ll attend their last football game, cheer at their last homecoming and graduate. They’ll also likely be juggling college applications and finalizing their plans for after graduation, whether that’s going into the workforce, joining the military or taking a gap year.

Netflix’s junky Senior Year tries to pay tribute to the classic high school rom-coms of the 2000s, but much like its protagonist Stephanie, the film veers from charming trip down memory lane into an aggressive projection of millennial frustration with the world as it is. It eventually becomes more stultifying than entertaining.

Shift from Middle School to High School

The shift from middle to high school may be more challenging than a child expects. It usually involves a new building, schedule and teachers along with more rigorous course work. In fact, research suggests that kids often drop out of high school because they were not prepared for the academic workload (ERIC Development Team, 2006).

Additionally, students are now teenagers and their friends are likely to change. This can lead to friendship shake-ups and increases the likelihood of long-term academic/social difficulties, according to a sociology study. Parents can help by encouraging their children to get involved in extracurricular activities at their new schools, including student government, activity planning and community volunteering. They should also consider taking summer courses if possible. These can give them a head start on the more challenging material they will encounter.

Preparing for Graduation

After years of late-night cramming sessions, grueling class schedules and too many term papers to count, graduation is finally within sight. It is an incredible opportunity to let go of the strain of years of hard work, that nagging sense that you have neglected something and celebrate with your companions who have travelled this path with you.

Your academic advisor should be reviewing your transcripts and ensuring that you’re on track to graduate. You’ll also need to order your cap and gown set and graduation announcements well in advance of the ceremony.

Be sure to review the rules on where you are supposed to be in the ceremony and the limitations on food/drinks/large purses. And don’t forget the photos! Graduation is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, so it’s important to capture the moment.