Upper School transition trouble

Freshman review their homework, and pack their backpacks at the end of the day. (PAW photo by Clara McMillan)
Freshman review their homework, and pack their backpacks at the end of the day. (PAW photo by Clara McMillan)

The first days of school can be a strain on any student, especially the freshmen.

New teachers, new classes and even a new hallway. Among the most nervous for the first days of school are the freshmen. Without the experience of an upperclassmen, or even a sophomore, freshmen can feel lost and overwhelmed at all of the new responsibilities.

With hundreds of questions circulating every day, getting a few things straightened out can benefit a student greatly. So what exactly are freshmen so worried about?

“One of my main concerns for Upper School is that I have to do my very best on each graded work because everything is filed so that colleges can look at it,” Francesca Toste ‘19 said. “Also having finals in every single class just seems stressful and hard to me. There are a lot more responsibilities.”

In Middle School, students had more leeway regarding grades and absences. They really begin to feel the pressure of college looming closer. The ninth grade adds on dozens of more responsibilities such as keeping track of homework, taking good notes, and becoming responsible for make-up work when sick.

Though these responsibilities exist in the Middle School, students become more accountable in the Upper School. These extra jobs can make students more stressed out than they need to be.

“I really wish I would have realized just how close college is,” Kendal Otto ‘16 said. “I probably would have tried to get involved in more academic extracurriculars.”

Andrew Beukelman ‘16 advised freshmen that, ‘the biggest thing to stress is that freshman year matters.”

This advice can serve as a fundamental step to understanding Upper School. Tuning in to the fact that every year of Upper School counts will help students immensely.

“As a ninth grader, I was so focused on acing the bare minimum [just school work] that I didn’t realize there is so much more to a high school experience that I could have gotten involved in,” Otto said.

High school extracurriculars can help students get into good colleges. There are many clubs that were not offered in the Middle School are offered in the Upper School, which can be confusing to a ninth grader.

These extracurriculars add to a student’s repertoire of skills, and they help students to become more well-rounded. This new selection of extracurriculars may seem unimportant, but they can add a lot to a student’s high school experience

Helpful corrections often come from the teachers. Mrs. Annette Hildebrandt began teaching at PA in 2003, and she has accumulated many helpful tips for new students.

“Stay true to yourself and who you are.” Mrs. Hildebrandt said. “Always ask questions. This is the way that you will learn the most.”

There are many important segments included in the shift into Upper School. One important thing to remember – keep a good balance between academics and extracurriculars.

“Although there may be safety in numbers, each one of you are individuals and don’t be afraid to let your light shine,” said Mrs. Hildebrandt. “With the grace of God you can do anything and will accomplish great things. Student individuality is a fundamental part in easing the transition into Upper School.”