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High School: Be More Ready Than Not

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what to expect in high school

“I can’t believe my child is going to high school!” said a close friend of mine. That sentiment is true for hundreds of thousands of parents across the country right now. As school districts prepare for the beginning of the school year, here are some things to remember about how high school will be different than eighth grade.

1. Courses with upper classmen

While core subjects (English, science, social studies and math) usually are filled with the same grade level of students, there may be an occasional upper classman. These students either failed and must repeat the class, or perhaps transferred from another school and need the credit to graduate. Also, if you are taking a second or third year of foreign language, a math higher than algebra I, an advanced science or advanced placement course, chances are some of your classmates will be upper classmen.

2. The locker rush

Students only have so many minutes to go to their lockers and get to class before the bell rings … and in high schools, the buildings are larger and classes are not going to necessarily be next to each other like in middle school. Periodically, schools have locker clean-out days. Also, lockers can be randomly inspected if administrators feel there is a safety concern.

3. More homework

With more classes comes more homework. The first nine weeks of ninth grade are based off the last nine weeks of eighth grade. So, content may be relatively easy for most students at the beginning of school. By the second nine weeks, students are in the midst of learning actual ninth-grade curriculum. Homework is a way of ensuring students get the practice they need on lessons and helping a teacher assess if students understand it. That is why it is imperative that students turn in homework and why some teachers give a grade for it.

4. PE rules

All students may be expected to take health and physical education as part of the high school curriculum and to possibly purchase a PE uniform and wear it. Most states require at least one year, if not two, as part of high school graduation requirements. Students can fail for lack of participation and failure to change into PE attire.

5. Teacher technology

Most schools have teacher websites or blogs where teachers put assignments and other pertinent information about your classes. Also, more and more school districts have online grade books that parents can check even before a report is mailed home.

6. GPA counts

High school equates to the start of a student’s grade point average (GPA). GPAs equate to class rank and class rank equates to college admission and scholarship qualification. See the connection?

7. More class choices

One of the best things about high school is that students, with the assistance of their school counselor and parents, are able to select all kinds of courses. This helps students find their interests and passions.

8. Larger geographic circle

Remember that there can be several middle schools feeding into one high school. While this may be a little overwhelming, this also makes for a great mix of all kinds of students.

9. Higher expectations

Teachers and administrators have high expectations for high school students: They are no longer in middle school. Completing homework, good classroom behavior, getting along with others and regular attendance are important factors of ensuring a successful high school experience.

10. More opportunities to connect

High school is a great time to join a club, sport, activity, or become a class officer or guidance aide. Studies show that students who are become part of their school community make better grades, have better relationships, and enhance their communication skills. Join!

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Written by Tracy Jackson, PhD

Dr. Tracy Jackson has been a school counselor since 1997 with experience at the elementary, middle & high school levels. She earned her PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision from Old Dominion University where she is an adjunct professor. As Coordinator of Guidance Services for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Tracy oversees the comprehensive school counseling programs for 85 schools & works with over 170 school counselors. Her blog provides resources & information to school counselors.

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