5 Keys to Making the Transition from Middle School to High School

By LESLIE A. PANFIL

Transitioning from the middle school to the high school can be a treacherous task. I recently sat down with some high school students to discuss what makes for a successful high school experience. Here is what they had to say.

Get Involved. Most high schools have a club for just about anything you are interested in and if they don’t you could be just the one to start one. Nearly everyone I interviewed said being involved in sports, clubs and activities helped them make friends and increased their sense of belonging. Studies have shown children most at risk of dropping out of school and participating in risky behavior had little or no ties to the school outside of daily class attendance.

Think Outside the Box. Many students said joining activities they had little previous experience not only helped them meet a whole new circle of friends but gave them new skill sets. The popularity of a program seemed to have little bearing on the value students placed on the experience. Belonging to any group provided them with a higher level of self esteem.

Be Yourself. Trying to be something you aren’t is exhausting and rarely works. The students I spoke with expressed a dislike for teens who were not genuine. They highly valued individuality and an authentic nature. Learning about yourself is a lifetime process but, presenting yourself in a true light seems to be something today’s adolescent prizes.

Speak Up. A simple hi can start up a friendship that could last a lifetime. Learning the art of conversation is key to making friends and expanding your social circle. I met my best friend in college when he went down the dorm hall saying, “hi, I’m looking to make friends.” It worked because we had something in common – I was looking to make friends too. Students I interviewed said finding things in common with someone was the most important factor in developing a friendship. So, rather than looking to impress, your conversations should be filled with questions that help you discover things you have in common.

Be a Leader not a Follower. You don’t have to do the same things you have done before. This can be a whole new chapter in your life. Pave your own way and share it with old and new friends.

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