So, you’re about to become a high school student, but you’re not sure what to expect. It’s a big step, and it may feel overwhelming. But there’s no need to worry or feel afraid. There will be changes in your class size, workload, classmates, and several other things, but it’s also a really exciting time. All of these changes will provide you with growth opportunities and help you to develop remarkable skills. You’ll learn new things about yourself and develop as a person

One of the most challenging things about high school is the independence you will have. You’ll be expected to be more responsible for yourself, your schedule, and your belongings than you were in middle school.  

Following are some of the other things you need to know about attending high school for the first time. 

Related: Middle School vs. High School: What Parents Should Know

Oldest to Youngest

One of the first things you’ll notice is that you’re now at the bottom of the food chain. You used to be among the eldest kids (therefore, coolest) in middle school, and now you’re among the youngest students in high school. This can be a little jarring if you aren’t expecting it. But don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of classmates who are also among the youngest in the school. Some schools see that ninth grade can be tough for many students, so they separate the ninth-graders from the rest of the school to make the adjustment easier.

Increased Workload

young woman sitting down in a pensive state

There’s no easy way to say this – you’ll have a lot more homework in high school. No doubt, your teachers in eight-grade have tried to prepare you for this. And it’s essential that you mentally prepare for this yourself as well. This increased workload, combined with all the other stress you may feel about being in a new place with new people, teachers, expectations, and schedules, can make life a little difficult for you initially. But you will adjust to it all. 

Peer Pressure

As you’re a little older in high school and exposed to an older crowd, you may find that there’s increased peer pressure. You might feel pressure to experiment with drugs, alcohol, or dating relationships. These are the bigger things, but you may also experience pressure to cheat, shoplift, wear specific clothing trends, or other behaviors you hadn’t considered yourself. It will be challenging, but high school is an excellent time to begin to know yourself and your limits. If you allow yourself to give in to the pressure, there can be adverse effects on your academics.  

Related: Activities to Help Your Teen Discover Their Passion & Purpose

New Classes

High school will offer many more classes on various topics than in middle school. You’ll have an opportunity to learn many new things in addition to your required courses. You can explore some of your interests like ceramics, drama, film, psychology, guitar, choir, computer programming, and foreign languages, to name just a few. 

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More Students

group of students walking in a high school hallway

The increased student body size is one of the scariest parts of moving to high school. The other students aren’t just older and stronger, but there are so many more of them. You could end up with four times the number of students in your high school than in your old middle school. Even many of the ninth-graders will be from other middle schools in your district. So there will be many unfamiliar things and people all at once. No one can blame you for being nervous about your first day, but you will survive. Remember that your school will be ready for you, and they’ll give you plenty of help to get around and know where you are and what’s going on.  

New Teachers

You will have several new teachers – up to six or seven per day! They will each have their own teaching methods, workloads, standards, quirks, and moods. This will make your experience much more challenging until you get used to them, but it’s not impossible. Find a friend or talk to your parents, especially in the first weeks of high school. You’ll need to off-load some of your stress and get encouragement from someone who cares. 

Parental Involvement

You’ll find that while your parents are invited to be involved on some level, there will be a sharp decrease in their involvement in high school. Your high school will likely have a more hands-off policy than middle school. Your parents may also assume they aren’t needed as much because you’re getting older and more independent. If you aren’t too embarrassed by your parents, you should encourage them to stay close and be involved. Students with involved parents have greater academic success and better mental health.  

Grades Count

Your grades count now! You should be prepared for the brand new emphasis on college in high school. Suddenly, you’ll have to become quite focused on your grades and the classes you choose, all with your future in mind. Your teachers will always talk about preparing for college while encouraging you to do your best. Some students will adapt to this change in focus quickly, while others will need more time. Try to be an early adapter. 


This goes along with peer pressure, but with the mix of new people, you’ll have to choose new friends. Be super careful as you do this. It will be surprisingly easy to hook up with the wrong crowd and find yourself behaving in ways that are unnatural to you. Running with the wrong group could have you skipping classes, cheating, doing drugs, or doing other negative things. Your academics, reputation, and relationship with your family could all suffer. 

But making the right friends could have you feeling encouraged to be true to yourself, do well in school, and develop all kinds of positive habits.  

Related: How To Avoid A High School Burnout: Tips For Teens 

Final Thoughts

Going to high school for the first time is scary, but so are many of the big steps you’ll take in your life. It might feel big and overwhelming at first, and you may make many mistakes, but you will eventually adapt and succeed. Knowing that ahead of time should help you feel more confident throughout your experience. Enjoy high school. 

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