Transitioning From Middle School to High School

In our last blog, Assistant Principal, Mallory Aferi, talked about preparing for the start of the new school year. For students who are beginning 9th grade, getting ready for the next school year might be intimidating and it will certainly involve more planning.

There are a few specific things to keep in mind about the transition from middle school to high school. Freshman year grade point average (GPA) is very important to setting the tone for the rest of a student’s high school years. A low GPA during 9th grade year might take the rest of their high school career to repair, which can affect their college prospects, job/trade opportunities, and more.  Education Week published an article that states “…there’s increasing evidence that [freshman year] is one of the most important academic years in students’ lives.” If a student falls to a 2.2 GPA by the end of their freshman year, they may not be able to bring it back up to a reasonable level because their score will always be an average and that low score will constantly affect the overall number. Maintaining a high GPA during their 9th grade year will give students the best chance for a great score as a senior.

It is also important to know that many students come from middle school thinking they will automatically get promoted to the next grade, but there is no social promotion in high school. The state requires a certain number of hours before they promote to the next grade, so each student has to pass every class, or they will have to make up those class hours in summer school or retake the grade completely.

This is a tough thing for most 14- or 15-year-olds to keep in mind, with all the distractions that starting high school can bring, including a new social environment and often times new teachers and an entirely new structure. As a school principal, I have noticed that many ninth graders put so much emphasis on their outward appearance, looking “cool” and fitting in. They are still developing their personalities and they think if they look and act a certain way then everything else will be fine.

To help prepare, I recommend that students read throughout the summer and keep up with math, especially during the summer between 8th and 9th grade. This will help avoid the summer slide and give them a chance to have a good start to their first high school year. In high school, you hit the ground running right away; the teachers don’t ease you into it and they don’t give allowances for summer slide. Students must be ready for that. For reading, it can be anything they are interested in: blog posts, newspapers, magazines, books. Just keep reading! Detroit Library has an excellent summer reading series for various ages if you need suggestions, and students can keep their math skills sharp on the Engage New York website.

My advice to students is to put all of their focus on academics from day 1. I always tell them, don’t worry about impressing your friends! Your social circle will support your success, and you’ll have something worth tweeting about when you’re top of your class and you have so many opportunities available to you.

Jared Davis
Jared Davis
Jared Davis is the principal of Cornerstone Health + Technology High School. He has 27 years of experience in levels K-12. He believes that all children can be successful, provided they have adequate support from parents, the school, and their surrounding communities.