Starting High School
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.
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.
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 encounter 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 other 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.
Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2012