Last year, I found myself in a bit of a pickle. I had just started off at a new school, and things didn’t seem to be going the way I had expected they would. I found myself taking classes where I felt confused and out of place, surrounded by people who I didn’t know. I was close to panic. However, with some effort, I was ultimately able to iron out most of the issues that were giving me a hard time, and I found that if I had taken certain steps sooner, I wouldn’t have had to implement them later, once I was already having problems. Now, I’ve made the transition into a new high school twice, and I’ve figured out a few things anyone can do preemptively to make sure those first few weeks run smoothly.
1. Review your schedule. These classes are why you’re in school, after all. Actively participate in selecting the courses you’ll be taking, specifically electives, choosing ones that interest you and that will continue to catapult you forward in meeting your academic goals. Another thing to pay attention to is that many schools offer multiple levels of the same course, especially in core subjects such as math and science. Make sure you’re placed in the right level right off the bat, especially if you want to take a higher-level course, as these classes may fill up quickly. In my experience, it’s a good idea to challenge yourself, but know your limits. Make sure you know any guidelines for add/drop periods or switching course levels. If a class doesn’t feel right within the first few weeks, don’t panic. Talk with the teacher or the head of the department. Clearly identify what the issue is and concrete steps that you and the school can implement to help. Push to address your concerns earlier rather than later, because that is the time when there is the most room for course adjustments, should that step become necessary. By the first month, your schedule should be solidified and serving you well!
2. Build a support system within your school community. This is something that I have found especially crucial to establish at a new school, but it’s important to assess yours regardless of how long you’ve been at your current institution. This should ideally consist of a variety of people that can help fulfill your social and emotional needs, relationships based off of mutual respect. It’s often even more beneficial if one or several of those people are trusted adults. Last year, mine consisted of my friends, teachers, and dorm faculty, to name a few. Many students also find it helpful to get to know the people who work in their school’s health services department. This can be a good place to go if you aren’t feeling well, physically or emotionally, as there are trained professionals to help you get back on track. Also, don’t be afraid to go to study skills or look into tutoring programs. With a network of people on your side, you’ll always have someone to help catch you should you stumble and fall.
3. Get involved outside of class. Being probably one of the least-sporty people I know, I didn’t expect to find myself on any sort of school team, but that’s exactly what I found when I joined Theater Tech with a friend. It was a great way to help the school community by building sets for the dramatic productions and a great way to make new friends. Opportunities to find one’s niche are often plentiful, especially at the beginning of the year, when everyone is in the same boat and looking for fun stuff to do and a place to belong. Some ideas of how to come across and take advantage of these opportunities can include pursuing an interest or sport that you already love, trying something you’ve always wanted to try, or following a friend to his or her clubs for a week. It’s important to balance schoolwork with recreation and community service. When I found this equilibrium, I felt like a cheerier individual overall, and the skills I learned in extracurriculars, such as constructively contributing ideas to a group, improved my performance in the classroom as well.
These simple steps can go a long way into smoothing the transition from summer into the school year. With classes suited to your abilities and interests, people that will support you in your endeavors, and activities to balance work with fun, you’ll probably be off to a great start.
I wish all my readers a fun end-of-vacation and the best of luck with the upcoming school year.