8th Graders: Here’s How You Can Prepare for High School This Summer
The transition from middle school to high school is incredibly exciting. While high school may seem like a larger version of middle school, it is so different. In high school, your classes start to get difficult as teachers really try to prepare you for college, you’ll have the opportunity to do things that you could never do in middle school like driving to school and attending Homecoming and Prom, and you’ll get to make more of an impact in your extracurriculars.
However, the transition from middle school to high school can also be frightening. Suddenly, you’ve gone from one of the oldest members of the school to the youngest members of the school. More than that, the people who are older than you are almost adults, so they have much more wisdom than you do. Also, in high school, you are expected to pretty much walk in knowing where everything is, what caliber of work your teachers are expecting, and how to seek help when you need it.
With all the changes that high school brings, both exciting and scary, it’s important to walk into that first day of freshman year prepared. Here are some things that you can do during the summer before you start high school to make sure you start the next four years off on the right foot in the fall.
Make a Four Year Plan
It may seem a little bit early to start planning out the next four years, but drawing out a four-year plan now will make things much easier in the long run. Take the time to write out what classes you think you’re going to take for the next four years, making sure to note how many AP classes or advanced courses you plan to take. This way, whenever you have to choose classes for the following year, you’ll have a comprehensive list to go back to.
When you’re forming your four-year plan and choosing the classes you might want to take, try to give yourself the opportunity to earn as high a GPA as possible. Many high schools will give higher GPA points for an advanced course/AP course than for a regular course, so be sure to have as many advanced courses as you think you can handle.
However, try to be realistic about how much you can handle. You want to balance out those tough classes with some fun classes to give you a stress reliever. Don’t set yourself up for failure by overloading yourself with your coursework. Remember: a B average in an AP course usually gives the same amount of GPA points as an A average in a regular course, but the A will look better on your college applications.
Of course, there are a number of variables that will affect what classes you take for the next four years, so you may not end up following your four-year plan exactly. However, keep the plan after you’ve made it and keep updating it as you go throughout high school. It’ll be a helpful reference when you’re trying to list out all of your previous classes on your college applications.
Make a List of Extracurriculars to Try
You should enter high school with a brief idea of what clubs and activities you want to be a part of. Within the first few weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to attend meetings and try out many different activities. Since this will happen so early in the school year, you should walk in with a basic idea of what activities you’re going to look into so that you don’t accidentally miss the opportunity to join a great organization.
If you need an idea of which clubs to join, many high schools have a list of available extracurriculars on their website. That would be a great place to start. Also, remember that if you don’t see one of your passions or interests represented in a club on campus, you can always start one! For more information about that, see How To Start Your Own Club In High School.
When you’re forming your tentative extracurricular list, definitely write down the clubs and organizations that you know you would love or that represent one of your favorite hobbies or interests. After that, try and have a mix of clubs, from career-oriented clubs and social organizations that simply look fun. That way, you can explore as many options as possible.
Get To Know The Campus
Oftentimes, high schools are much bigger than middle schools, and there’s not always going to be someone around on the first day to tell you where to go. So, if you have the opportunity to attend a high school orientation or just take a stroll through your new school beforehand, take the chance and try and orient yourself within the school.
You may not have your official school schedule for that year by the time summer starts, so you won’t necessarily get to find all of your classes. However, if you know the general structure of the school before the first day, you’ll definitely feel more comfortable navigating the campus during the first few days.
Buy Your School Supplies
Some high school classes, particularly the advanced courses, give you lectures and lessons on day 1, so it’s important to bring at least a pen and some paper on the first day so that you’ll be ready to take notes.
On the first day, you’ll probably learn what school supplies you will need for each class. Many teachers of 9th-grade courses will be very specific about what school supplies you exactly need for the class, and they won’t always tell you before the first day. However, it couldn’t hurt to have a few notebooks and binders already purchased just in case.
Figure Out How You’re Getting To School
If you’re getting driven to school every day, figure out where parents are supposed to drop off and pick up their kids. If you’re taking the bus, figure out where your bus stop is. If you’re in a carpool situation with some friends, make sure and organize the carpool well in advance. Transportation is definitely not something you want to be worried about first thing in the morning on your first day of class.
Especially on the first day, make plans to leave a little bit early. Everyone will be trying to get to school on time on the first day of school, creating the perfect opportunity for a traffic jam. Thus, try and arrange your transportation so that you beat the rush.
Brush Up on Some Core Subjects
Many high school classes will expect you to still remember what you learned in middle school and be able to build on that knowledge within the first few days of class. Thus, it’s important that you don’t forget what you have learned in middle school over the summer.
Take a bit of time over the summer to review some of your old notes on Math, Science, English, and History. You don’t have to do any in-depth reviews or practice problems, but you ought to spend a few hours glancing at the various concepts you’ve covered so that you would be able to recall them in a high school class if need be.
For More Information
Want more information about your freshman year of high school? Check out these previous blog posts from CollegeVine:
Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academics, choosing courses, standardized tests, extracurricular activities, and much more!