As students transition out of middle school, they often approach the idea of high-school with fears of heavier workloads, busy schedules, and having to make new friends. However, despite only having been in high school for one year, I have had a chance to experience and face these fears hands-on. High school doesn't have to be scary; it's a chance to explore your passions and interests and develop relationships that you can carry with you for the rest of your life. Here are ten reasons why high school is different than middle school:
1. New Classes
As you enter high school, you'll be introduced to a whole world of subjects. Along with your required courses, you'll be able to choose classes that spark your interest or relate to the field that you would like to pursue in the future. Some examples include Psychology, Ceramics, Photography, Film, Drama, Choir, Guitar, Computer Programming, Foreign Languages, and more! Needless to say, high school is a great time to explore your passions and even try something new in preparation for college.
2. Peer Pressure
Peer pressure influences your life from a very early age. It's only natural for us to observe and learn from our peers; human nature drives us to find a sense of belonging amongst others and thus gain acceptance. Peer pressure can be both positive and negative, however, we typically only acknoledge negative peer pressure as being an aspect of high school due to its notorious and dangerous consequences. Those who engage in healthy relationships can experience positive effects of pressure: maintaining a kind and compassionate character, avidly participating in class, and attending school on a regular basis. However, upon entering high school you will find that there are some who chose to engage in risky behavior: trying drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, vaping, etc. You'll encounter various situations where you'll have to determine whether you have the power and will to say "no" when necessary. It takes great power and courage to resist the desire to fit in with those around you but by doing so you will be thankful for having avoided the consequences of engaging in reckless behavior.
3. Less Sleep
Upon analyzing state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, the CDC determined that 7 out of 10 high school students did not get enough sleep on school nights. With longer, busier days and heavier amounts of homework, high school students lose more hours of sleep than they would have in middle school. Additionally, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teens need between eight and ten hours of sleep, yet research shows that up to 73% of high school students don't get a healthy amount of sleep. Such lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on a teen's health and life; according to Dr. Jonathan Pletcher, an adolescent medicine specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, “…a lack of sleep can increase depression, negative physical health like headaches, poor school performance, school absenteeism and drowsy driving.” So, what are the ways to ensure a good night's sleep? Try establishing a set bedtime, even on the weekends, to give your body a consistent sleep schedule, completing homework on time to avoid late nights of studying, and avoiding technology at least an hour before bed.
High school is a chance to be a "new, better you" but associating with the wrong people could cause the development of reckless and irrational behavior and ultimately drive apart your previous friendships. These years are times of emotional and developmental changes; as teens distance themselves from their parents, friendships can become their most important relationships herefore who you choose to be friends with has a direct impact on your morals, values, and character. A study led by Amy C. Hartl of Florida Atlantic University tracked 410 seventh graders and determined that only one percent of the friendships formed in seventh grade were still intact by twelfth grade. Hence, it's only natural that your friendships may fall apart at some point or another. It's often our differences that drive children apart; interests and personalities change over time and, suddenly, you and your once best friend don't have much in common anymore. Nevertheless, high school is an opportunity to venture into your passions and to develop new friendships with those who you can share interests with!
Unlike in middle school, high schoolers seem to have closer bonds between students in different grades. Frequent dances, pep rallies, sports games, and parties are bound to ignite friendships between students of all ages. Not only are high school events fun but they also teach valuable communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills. So far, one of the most notable and memorable events of high school has been Homecoming Week. A week beforehand, the tension in the air was already thick with anticipation that it could be cut with a knife. Leaders of each grade emerged and encouraged their peers to come together in an effort to fight for victory. Upon the beginning of Homecoming Week, tense rivalries between grades emerged as they battled through various challenges and games: basketball, Capture the Flag, dodgeball, and more. Of course, the strong-willed seniors were declared victorious at the end of the week, but we celebrated the exuberant experience nevertheless. In short, high school events are memorable and highly anticipated to say the least.
One of the most notable aspects of high school is extracurriculars. They provide your high school experience with an abundance of knowledge and experience that you can carry with you throughout your life. Extracurriculars can be both inside and outside of school and consist of various activities: sports teams, school clubs, jobs, interships, volunteering, art, competitions, and more. For those with a limited ability to have pursued their passions in middle school, high school is the perfect oppurtunity to explore what they love and discover something new. Many schools offer a large range of freedom to their students to start their own clubs and organizations. If you have a passion that isn't represented at your school, I implore you to speak up for what you love!
7. Longer Days
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over 20 percent of middle schools start their school days by 7:45 or earlier. Keeping this in mind, when I was in middle school, my school day started at 8:00 AM and ended at 3:15 PM. As I transitioned into high school, my school days began at 8:00 besides Wednesdays, when I began at 8:45, and ended at 3:30. Of course, the length of school days differs based on various factors: what state or country you live in and what school you attend. All in all, with more classes and higher-level material, school days tend to be longer in high school. However, our schedules have plenty of free periods, study halls, and breaks! Additionally, despite having longer days, high school classes tend to be shorter as you have more classes to fit into the day.
8. Harder Coursework
High school can be a big change from middle-school for some. I was fortunate enough to have wonderful teachers in middle school who provided me with the knowledge that I know that I will carry with me for years to come. In fifth grade, my English teacher gave us a large packet with dozens of pages, filled with tips on writing expository essays, hooks, grammar, and more. To this day, I still have the packet sitting right at my desk. In seventh grade, another English teacher introduced me to the world of poetry in a way that I had never seen before. Since then, I've been writing each day and even hope to publish my own collection of poems in the next few years. My most notable teacher, however, was my eighth grade English teacher; she pushed every student, regardless of their skills, to reach their fullest potential by asking them a vital question: So what? Upon writing an essay, I always myself this question and strive to analyze and explain to the fullest extent possible. All things considered, high school isn't necessarily harder than middle-school, however, it requires students to harness the skills they've hopefully acquired throughout middle school and apply them to your work.
9. Grades Matter
A message for incoming ninth graders: take a deep breath in and out. Relax. From this moment forward, forget your past grades in middle school. That was a practice run. Now, it's time for the real deal. Semester grades from ninth grade to twelth grade will be kept as records and viewable by colleges that you later apply to. Take another deep breath in and out. Don't worry about having to be an A+ student. Simply keep in mind that schoolwork is important and how hard you work now directly affects your future education. However, don't feel pressured to be perfect. Instead, become familiar with your strengths and weaknesses by analyzing your grades in the past, focus on how you could improve, and make mistakes. In order for us to learn, we have to make mistakes first! It's only natural! Overall, as long as you care about your schoolwork and try your best, you won't be stressing nearly as much.
In high school, parents tend to be less involved in their children's schoolwork. Upon entered high school, there's a sort of unspoken rule established that "you are responsible for you." For some, this transition can be intimidating in comparison to middle school; however, if you work hard, stay attentive, and have supportive teachers, I can assure your success.
Because grades are recorded from ninth grade and onward, parents often encourage their children to take charge of their future by giving them more independence. In doing so, children can establish routines and time management techniques that are personalized and effective. Keep in mind that your freedom doesn't give you an excuse to start slacking off! Now that you're getting older, you'll begin to take on more responsibilities. High school being a step-up from middle school, your parents expect that you complete your homework when necessary and submit assignments on time. However, it's not to be mean! Your parents are just granting you more independence in preparation for college.