The transition from middle to high school can be a daunting one for teens who are unaware of what to expect; however, proper preparation can alleviate this anxiety altogether. Teens entering high school may be faced with a bigger building or campus, a larger student body, a wider array of classes and electives, more rigorous coursework, and a lot more responsibility.
While these changes might seem significant, getting comfortable with the new school environment, adjusting your expectations (and understanding what’s now expected of you), and figuring out how to seek out help when needed can make this transition smooth and put you on the right path to a successful high school career.
Make a Four Year Plan
Like with most things in life, planning is key, and having a four-year plan when it comes to your high school academic schedule and goals will give you a major advantage and relieve a ton of stress around semester course planning. As you enter high school, you may not know exactly which courses you’ll want to take in the fall of your senior year, but you should have an idea of the subjects you like and excel in, and base your plan for the upcoming semesters and years around that.
While your future class selection may differ slightly from the four-year plan, this will be a guide that keeps you on track each semester and ensures you’re crafting the student profile that will most benefit you in the future.
Short Term Goals
As you plan your future course schedule, you’ll want to keep both short-term and long-term goals in mind. In the short-term, you may want to pursue a certain elective or ensure that you advance to the next honors math class. However, you also want to keep in mind the long-term (bigger picture) goals and ensure that your short-term goals and actions are in line with them. That said, giving yourself room to explore new subjects and extracurriculars in the short-term can help you discover new strengths and areas of interest, which may eventually impact and even alter your long-term goals, like the career you may pursue or the university you’ll want to attend.
Long Term Goals
Long-term goals, like graduating from the university of your choice or getting a job in your chosen profession, might seem far off to you now, but they’re built on the foundation you lay as a teen. This means that the actions you take, the courses and activities you pursue, and your success in those pursuits will all have an impact on those longer-term goals.
You should think about what you may want to do with your life professionally or, if you have no clue, then consider what areas you may want to explore. You should also consider whether a four-year university is essential or helpful to that path, and if so, whether a certain type of university would be more beneficial for you.
Once you figure out what potential industry or career path and higher education you may want to pursue, you’ll be able to determine the steps to prepare for that path. If you aim to pursue a career in the medical field, you may want to take on more advanced science classes.
If you’re interested in the arts, you may get more involved in arts-related extracurriculars. Either way, the best bet for success is to explore a wide array of subjects, further pursue those which you enjoy or excel at, and challenge yourself as much as possible without sacrificing your performance or overwhelming you.
Beta-Bowl can help your teen reach their long term goals
Create a List of Extracurriculars
One great benefit for high school students is the vast array of opportunities, which include both course options and outside-the-classroom extracurricular activities, which all students should take advantage of. Since beginning high school and being faced with so many new opportunities at once can be overwhelming, the best strategy is for students to explore the extracurriculars available and make a list of those they may be interested in.
Some clubs, teams, or activities may require try-outs or auditions, and others may have deadlines to join. Either way, it’s important to prioritize those activities of interest so you remember to find out information about involvement and choose which activities suit you best. Many schools have “club fairs” at the beginning of the year to enable new students to get information about each club or group, and you can also check the school website for a list of clubs, teams, and other extracurriculars.
Get to Know the Campus
High school campuses are often larger than middle schools, and this can be overwhelming for students who are also just getting used to the many class periods in one day. Rather than wait until day one of the first semester to step foot on campus, getting a school tour ahead of time should give you a little leg up and put your mind at ease. Even better, if you already know your class schedule, it’s worth taking the time to map out the fastest path from class to class so you know your way around before the first day of school. If you can’t find a map of the school, you may want to seek out an upperclassman friend or neighbor who would be willing to give you a brief tour and help you map your route between classes. You might be surprised at how helpful an upperclassman may be in showing a younger student the ropes.
Related: How to Be Successful in High School
Get to Know Your Classmates
Once you get into high school, you’re going to have a lot more classes to keep up with and a lot more peers you’ll interact with, and getting to know your classmates will only help you in times of need. You should befriend a handful of students in every class so you’ll always have a study buddy, project partner, and a friend whose notes you can borrow if you ever miss a day for a sickness or appointment.
Additionally, you never know when those high school friends and peers may be important networking connections to you one day, especially those who have similar interests. You may find yourself in the same college or profession down the road, so it’s best to start networking now if you can.
Start a Facebook Group for Support
If you feel anxious or overwhelmed as a new student going into high school, you may want to start an online support group on a platform like Facebook, where you can connect with other students in the same situation. Students should realize that there are many other teens out there in the exact same position, so they should never feel alone. With the increase in teen anxiety in recent years, you may find that there’s a great need for this type of support group, and you may end up building it into an entire organization or business aimed at helping anxious adolescents seeking community and guidance.
Buy Your School Supplies
When you enter high school, you should come prepared to learn, and that includes coming prepared with all the essential school supplies. In middle or elementary school, the first week of school may have been dedicated to “get to know you” games and classroom rules, but in high school, no time is wasted getting straight to work.
This means that you should come to class with a backpack, notebooks, any required textbooks, writing utensils, possibly a laptop, and any other necessary school supplies. In some cases, you may be able to double-up on one binder for multiple classes, but this is something you’ll need to determine based on your schedule, so you can make the most efficient and effective use of your supplies.
Don’t Forget a Planner
In middle school, they may have provided you with a daily planner and calendar, but in preparation for high school, you should get yourself one, if you haven’t already. Keeping track of your daily schedule and long-term projects is going to be essential, and a planner is a perfect tool to keep your schedule and daily to-do list always on-hand and accessible. Also, remember that a planner is only good if you use it, so be sure to keep up with your planner and include any and all assignments, upcoming tests, and planned study time to ensure you don’t ever fall behind or forget an assignment or upcoming quiz or project deadline.
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And a Backpack Built for Heavy Books
Since you’re going to have more daily class periods than you’ve previously had in middle school, you’re going to need a backpack that can accommodate all your class materials. This might mean carrying four or five textbooks and binders from class to class, so your backpack should be built for functionality, not fashion. However, if you can be strategic about which books and binders you use for morning classes versus afternoon classes, you can lighten the load on your back and make good use of your locker in between classes.
Brush Up on School Subjects
As you enter high school, it’s expected that you’ve retained the basic knowledge you accumulated in middle school, since many core subjects will build on the prior year’s learning. If you’re someone who’s already forgotten everything from last semester, you may want to spend a bit of time refreshing yourself on the recent core subjects you’ve taken. In particular, classes like math that advance to a new topic using the principles from the prior year should be reviewed.
This idea of classes building on the knowledge gained in the prior year will continue throughout your high school career, so it’s always beneficial to briefly review the prior year’s lessons ahead of starting a new semester of a more advanced class, especially if you had a long summer break in between the two semesters and may need a quick refresher to get up to speed.
To conclude, high school is definitely a new and unfamiliar experience for graduating middle schoolers, but it shouldn’t feel daunting, scary, or overwhelming. The proper mindset and adequate preparation can make entering high school a smooth, positive, and exciting transition and set up a student for a successful four years. Between four-year planning, reviewing the prior semester’s learnings, and planning to get involved both inside the classroom and through extracurricular activities, a student truly sets themselves up for success, even from the start of their freshmen year.
Related: 20 Tips for High School Freshmen