You walk in. You see students towering above you by about a foot—some that look old enough to be your teacher. There are no more single-file lines walking down the halls. You no longer have to go to the office or the bathroom with a partner. What is this strange world, and how will you ever survive?
“The hardest thing to adjust to was the work, and being required to really push yourself in order to get grades that you previously breezed through in elementary school,” says Elena, a 15-year-old sophomore at Walter Payton. Remember your teachers in elementary school, reminding you daily to do your homework and get started on your big paper due next week? That isn’t necessarily the case in high school. While most teachers during your freshman year will do their best to ease your way into the high school environment, it can still be quite difficult. Amalia, another 16-year-old sophomore at Walter Payton, said, “Coming in freshman year, everything was kind of so sudden I hardly knew what to do with myself.”
High school is on an entirely different level. There are a lot more students, and thus a bigger difference in maturity levels, intelligence, and social skills. However, that doesn’t mean it will be any more difficult finding people to relate to and become good friends with. With more students comes a greater mixture personalities and interests. John Angelo, 16-year-old sophomore attending Walter Payton, “embraces Payton’s diversity.”
So, how can you prepare for high school? A lot of your preparation will depend on your own determination and your experience at your old elementary or middle school. Coming into high school, you could have come from the top 5 in your previous school, but as Elizabeth, a 16-year-old sophomore at Walter Payton states, “coming to high school I was and am competing with all the kids that were in the top 5 of their classes.” You can either work hard and do your best in order to adjust to this new workload, or slack off and fall behind. Anna, another 16-year-old sophomore, suggests, “Talk to and meet as many people as you can. Not only will you make close friends, but you will also create a network of people that you can look to if you ever need any help in a class, with homework, or if you need to know an assignment…”
Regardless of the difficulty, you may end up considering high school some of the best years of your life. Elizabeth comments, “There is a lot more freedom to learn what you want and more opportunities to learn how you want.” “It was generally fun, and it was also great to meet people that I have a lot in common with, which generally didn’t happen in elementary school,” says Elena. Chelsa, 16, provides another perspective. “I think the best and most fun part about high school were the teachers. They were really cool and helped me become independent.” There’s freedom, fun, and support from your teachers—so, just make the most of it and enjoy it while you can . . . because if you thought elementary school went by fast, high school is only four years and will fly by that much quicker.