How to Smoothly Transition into a New High School
You’ve left all your friends at your old high school, and now you’re dreading being the stereotypical “new kid” you see in the movies. It’s tough to change high schools, and many students are afraid of the academic and/or social toll that changing schools can take.
But never fear! We’ll rescue you from that motion-picture fate with some detailed do’s and don’t’s on transitioning to a new high school.
- DO visit the school before your first day attending, especially if your school offers an open house for courses and clubs. Most schools offer some kind of open house for or newcomers to get the scoop on the school’s academic and extracurricular offerings. If this is the case with your future school, be sure to attend this event! You not only can you learn important information about the school’s opportunities, but you can also find out a lot about the school’s atmosphere and environment. If your particular school does not offer an open house, then ask your parents if you can make a short stop or trip at the school to get an idea of its size, its environment, the state of its facilities, and anything else that might be important to you.
- DO conduct extensive research on the school through the school’s website or faculty before you attend for the first time. Check out the school’s grading policies, activities, and deadlines (for programs, curricula, etc.) before you move. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many students fail to be thorough enough and end up missing important opportunities or deadlines. When you’re researching your school, check if there is a place for info about new-student resources or time-sensitive programs. If you’ve got that covered, you may choose to begin looking at school-specific scholarships, competitions, or special programs that you may wish to apply to or sign up for in the future.
- DO start looking into clubs and extracurriculars right away. Get your hands on a club listing as early as possible to dig out the clubs that will be of most interest to you. Once you’ve sifted through the school’s clubs and found a few that interest you*, create a schedule of call-out meetings/information sessions. Attend all the clubs you found yourself drawn to, and make sure to introduce yourself to others. At this point, it’s okay if your list of call-out meetings or information sessions is very extensive—attend them with the knowledge that you’re not making a commitment to anything just yet. The purpose of attending these first club meetings is simply to meet students and staff, gain a sense of the extracurricular environment at your school, and see what activities you may find yourself enjoying.
*Also make note of clubs at your old school that aren’t offered at your new school. Once you’ve settled into your new environment, you can kickstart similar activities to fulfill your interests and expand your horizons with peers.
- DON’T overload yourself with too many activities or life changes! Moving to a new location and/or new school is a huge transition for many people, and you may not realize just how much this could affect your life; after all, most people don’t have prior knowledge of how “different” or how stressful it may be to move. Therefore, we caution against introducing too many changes in to your life right away. For example, most students would be overwhelmed if they decided to take on a new job, take a full schedule of AP classes, and get into a relationship while balancing the stress of moving. It is important to recognize the focus at hand should be to adjust to the school, at least in the first couple of months. Spend these first few months building up your social life and adjusting to your new academic system. Balance is key. Which brings us into the next point…
- DON’T build up your academics at the cost of your social life, or vice versa! Many students make the mistake of setting out to achieve the highest grades at their new school, of being the new top student at their school. It is true that your grades are very important, but make sure that you spend a good deal of your time interacting with other students and ensuring that you’ll have some healthy relationships and networks with others (outside of class, clubs provide a great opportunity to meet others). A social network will offer you the support and the fun you need during high school. Building relationships can be difficult as a new student, so it’s important to take these opportunities to meet others. Likewise, don’t make social life the only thing that matters to you during your first few months. Your grades, whether you like it or not, are still there. While colleges may take a move into consideration when it comes to grades, try not to let them fall. Try to determine from the get-go which of your classes are the most difficult. Organize your study habits, determine which classes will require the most work, and find out whether you may need to get additional help in some areas or change classes. Which, again, brings us to our final point…
- DON’T hesitate to reach out to teachers and other students. Reach out to your counselor early on; you’ll likely be working with your counselor even before you move to the school and begin attending, and they’ll be writing a recommendation letter on your behalf. It’s also important that you reach out to your teachers, since these are the people who will be helping you with your schoolwork and will be writing your recommendation letters as well. Let’s not forget your peers—reaching out to your peers will allow you to understand and adjust to your new school more quickly. It’s your peers who will know the ins and outs of life as a student, so they offer a perspective unique to those of teachers and counselors. You’ll also be able to set up study groups and learn from your peers, so your relationship with them is very crucial. And let’s not forget, you certainly want to have some good friends with whom you can wind down and have fun on the weekends (or at least we hope)!
- DON’T dwell on what you’ve left behind at your old school. Doing so will only make adjusting to your new school more difficult. At the same time, remember to not be harsh on yourself—allow yourself to adjust to your new situation and recognize the positive changes that you’re experiencing. Remember that you’re strengthening yourself for future life changes. You’re coming across new opportunities and experiences that you wouldn’t have had if you’d stayed at your old high school. You’re already growing in your maturity by organizing yourself and finding out how to manage changes and start nearly from scratch.
High school’s a tough time, but moving does not have to complicate it further. We hope that the above guide will help you decide some important steps to take before, during, and after your move. With all these tips in mind, you’ll be on the right track for a healthy life change and for a successful school year to come.