New teachers, new classmates, a new building, and new routine; there are plenty of changes when starting high school. Knowing what to expect is half the battle, and understanding the differences between middle and high school can decrease anxiety and ease the transition. By taking advantage of the differences highlighted below you can excel and thrive in high school.

Larger graduating classes

High schools are built to accommodate more students than middle school as, typically, two or three middle schools feed into one high school. An increase in students not only results in larger graduating classes, it also limits personalized attention while increasing ownership and responsibility for your academics. Homework reminders are few and far between, and expectations both inside and outside of the classroom are higher.

Increased workload

Not only are class sizes larger, the workload is, too. Instead of three quizzes, two tests, and homework assignments during one quarter, you might have two tests, homework assignments, and a major project. Your English teacher won’t coordinate with your science teacher on due dates, and you may have two or three big projects due around the same time. Time management and prioritization skills are more critical than ever.

Class electives

In middle school, your class electives primarily consist of band or chorus, art or home economics, Spanish or French. High school opens a new world of possibilities, with over 75 electives to choose from in ninth grade alone. If you want to learn about European History, Oceanography, or Chinese, sign up for a class. Think engineering might be the career for you? There’s a whole program for that. With AP and dual enrollment classes, you have plenty to consider when selecting your high school courses.

In addition to STEM and fine arts specialty programs, career and technical education classes offer hands-on industry training and certification. Classes in automobile technology, culinary arts, horticulture, biomedical science, and nursing, to name a few, are offered to high school students. If you want to be a nurse, you could enroll in the nursing program, graduate from high school as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), then graduate from college in two years as a Registered Nurse (RN). Here’s the best part: all of these classes are free!

Higher stakes

The independence, higher demands, and faster class pace in high school is intended to prepare you for college. The stakes are much higher because everything in high school is fair game for college admissions officers, from grades to class selection to extracurricular activities. They see all of it and use this information to determine if you are not only ready for college, but if you will most likely be successful at their college. A D or F on a middle school report card won’t be seen by a college admissions rep (except in Algebra I or a language class), whereas a D or F on a 9th grade report card will. That’s why it’s so important to bring your A game to high school.

Fitting in

By eighth grade, you likely know where you fit in. After three years at the same school, peer groups have been well established, but that can change in ninth grade when students from other schools enter the mix. You might click with a group of friends that didn’t go to your middle school, or you might stay close with the besties you’ve had for years. Either way, give yourself time to adjust to the larger student body and workload before jumping into the social scene.

It’s not easy going from top dog in middle school to the smallest fish in the high school pond, but once you adjust to the changes you’ll be just fine. Don’t hesitate to ask a teacher, guidance counselor, or parent for help. If a tutor could help with the transition to high school, give us a call.