4 Things to Know Before Starting High School

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4 min read

This post is part of a week-long series to help new high school and college students prepare for their freshman year. Throughout this week, visit the Varsity Tutors blog for advice, tips, and tricks for this critical transition.

As the first day of high school approaches, your uncertainty about what’s to come may be growing. You’re about to face a new school, new teachers, and new classmates. While this can feel intimidating, high school also includes a wealth of opportunities that middle school never did. In an effort to feel more at ease going into this transition, it’s important to be as prepared as possible by gathering insights on what to expect. There are many things to know before starting high school: it requires an increased work ethic, it invites you to challenge yourself, and it allows you to explore new interests, for instance.

Excited to begin high school, but looking to feel better prepared? Keep reading to learn four things you should know before starting high school:

1. High school will demand a stronger work ethic than middle school

The transition from middle school to high school is rife with new expectations, one of which is a stronger work ethic. Once you start high school, you’ll be tasked with more homework, projects, quizzes, and tests. At the beginning of the semester, you may be given a syllabus in each class, often outlining major due dates throughout the semester. Set aside time to mark these in a planner or an online calendar. This way, you can better track assignments in all of your classes and properly structure your study sessions.  

2. High school is an opportunity to challenge yourself

High school opens many new doors, both socially and academically—you’re presented with a multitude of extracurricular and academic options that you likely didn’t have before. That being said, strive to select activities and courses that will pose a challenge. This may sound intimidating, but it’s important to continually task yourself with learning new things and expanding your skills. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about coding, for example, inquire about any possibilities for advancement on your school’s campus. Whenever you have the option to choose electives, select ones that will teach you new and exciting course material. Speak with your parents, teachers, and academic counselor to discuss which classes and activities may be ideal for you.

[RELATED: How High School and College Students Can Set—and Achieve—Academic Goals]

3. High school requires you to make proactive decisions

A big difference when starting high school is that you now must be a more proactive student. Whether it be in your classes or your extracurricular activities, make choices that will ultimately set you up for success. It can be tempting to skip a study session or meeting time, but this could hurt your overall grade or participation in your activity. You must stay on top of all of your assignments, activities, and outside responsibilities. If you notice you’re not grasping a particular concept in your geometry class, it’s up to you to do something about it. Ask your teacher for extra help at lunch, find a friend who can help you with homework, or consider tutoring. Don’t wait until you fail an exam to seek assistance. While you aren’t filling out college applications just yet, it’s key to remember that letting grades and participation slide early on in your high school career can affect you down the road.

[RELATED: Time Management Tips for Students]

4. High school is a time to explore your interests

High school presents you with many activities and opportunities at your fingertips. You’ll be presented with a plethora of extracurricular activities, sports teams, and academic tracks. Exploring your interests also sets you up to meet other classmates and to boost your eventual college applications. As you begin high school, identify your interests and skills to find the right fit for you. For example:

  • Are you organized, and do you enjoy planning events? Student council may allow you to be involved in the planning of school activities.
  • Are you concerned with global human rights? You might enjoy your high school’s Amnesty International club.

[RELATED: Should You Join a High School Language Club?]

While starting high school can feel intimidating at times, it challenges you to become a better, more thoughtful student. You’ll be presented with many new academic and extracurricular opportunities, and it’s up to you to make the most of them. Good luck!

Any topics you want to know more about? Let us know! The Varsity Tutors Blog editors love hearing your feedback and opinions. Feel free to email us at blog@varsitytutors.com.