By Sarah Vander Schaaff

I wonder how many readers remember their first day of high school. I don’t think about that day often, but when I cleared away a few summer distractions, my memory of it came back. Yes, I know exactly what I wore.

My priorities as a fourteen-year-old were a bit out of order, but probably not atypical.

In reading about the transition from middle school into high school, I found many articles that cite social pressure and a teenager’s desire to associate with a group as being strong rivals to the expectations of home or school.

And the way a student handles the transition into high school has serious stakes:
More students fail 9th grade than any other grade level and more students drop out of 9th grade than any other year, according to a resource page provided by New York State.

Parental involvement, in the transition into high school and thereafter, is one predictor of high school success. According to the same article from NY State, it correlates with higher achievement, better adjustment, and lower likelihood of dropping out.

Matt Davis has an interesting blog post on Edutopia with links to information about the transitions between several categories, from the first day of Kindergarten to the starting of college. But this week, we’d like to turn to you, our readers, who might have advice as parents, students or administrators.

What should an incoming 9th grader keep in mind on the first day of school?

To get the conversation started, I asked a few folks at Mindprint to share their thoughts. Here is what they had to say. We hope to hear from you, too.

“That was probably the first time I learned to expect the unexpected. If kids can learn to do that, and roll with it, they will have a much better experience in high school and beyond.”

“Mostly I remember being terrified that I would not be able to find my classrooms, and would end up being late for class. That did happen for at least a few classes every day for the first month of school until one very kind teacher (who was tired of seeing me come in late and sweating from running all over the building) drew me a map of the school and helped me figure out how to get from one class to the next. Therefore, my advice would be to see if you can go in early (before freshman orientation) and get a good feel for where your classrooms are as well as the bathrooms, nurse’s office, etc.”

“As a parent, I was a bit anxious when my daughter started 9th grade, wondering if she would like her classes and classmates. I also could not believe that I had a daughter old enough to be starting high school since it felt to me that I was in high school not too long ago.”

And from the teenaged son of one Team Member:

“Incoming 9th graders should keep in mind that all of the older students were once freshmen. Also, try new things.”

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