By Anushka Rajmohan
As the 2018-2019 school year nears its end, the current freshman class also nears the end of its first year of high school. As everyone who once was a freshman is aware, ninth grade can be challenging to say the least. From the dramatic increase in workload to the daunting, new building, freshman year can be stressful and even scary to some. On the other hand, some feel that high school can be more freeing, and they can dive deeper into activities they love. So, what was the transition from middle school to high school like for the class of 2022?
As expected, many students claimed to have struggled to transition from middle school to high school. In fact, 66% of freshmen students, in a survey of 47, declared that the first month of their ninth grade year was difficult or stressful in some way.
Though the majority of the ninth graders surveyed seemed to have experienced stress, the cause of this stress varied. Among the many responses, the most common ones seemed to be the time-consuming workload, confusing building layout, and intimidating upperclassmen.
For example, many students indicated that the larger amount of homework interfered with their social lives since they were used to less work as middle schoolers. Many said that they have less time for socializing in high school than in middle school due to the heavy workload. A student, who prefers to stay anonymous, even admitted that it was “almost hypocritical for the teachers to say we should be involved [in extracurricular activities] yet give us so much homework.”
In addition to this issue, other freshmen were unnerved by the upperclassmen also attending the high school. Those who have classes with upperclassmen were intimidated to do group projects and work alongside them, stating that they sometimes seemed judgmental.
Some even said that this judgmental attitude extended towards sports teams, in which the freshmen were tasked with the “grunt work,” such as getting water or setting up cages. This was especially difficult to transition into since the freshmen held the seniority in middle school.
The final major stressor centered on the North building itself. Many revealed that their unfamiliarity with the new building, along with its immense size, daunted them at first. Some feared that by just taking one wrong turn, they could get lost and be late to class.
Many of these difficulties are understandable and come with any change or transition into a new environment, but do these difficulties persist amongst the freshmen now?
Only 34% of those surveyed thought their overall high school life is easier now. Although a majority of freshmen surveyed said they are used to the teachers and their various expectations, many felt that the workload and expectations only increased as the year progressed, and their free time decreased in turn. Therefore, their stress levels rose considerably, especially in the third marking period.
With these varied experiences, the current freshmen also have advice to pass on to future students at North. When asked if the freshmen next year should be ambitious with taking more than one honors class, only 9% responded that more honors classes are better.
On the contrary, most believed the decision depends on the type of student and his or her work ethic. They advised future freshmen to be ambitious to a point, but to know their limits as well. Some recommended that freshmen find a balance between classes and their social life, including extracurricular activities.
For instance, Ruhani Gill, a sophomore and a well-versed student in honors classes, offered similar tips: “I think they should be [ambitious] if they want to push themselves, but they shouldn’t overwhelm themselves.”
It is no secret that the transition from the small middle school to the drastically bigger high school can be overwhelming and stressful for the ninth graders; the survey only emphasized this point. Thus, incoming students should heed the advice of those who have trod the path already: know yourself, be prepared for challenges, and focus on your whole life, not just your school life.