The Ninth Grade Transition: Expectations Vs. Reality


Life is full of transitions, and especially in school, they can seem very intimidating and inexplicable. One of the transitions that most Prep students go through is the fabled transition from eighth to ninth grade, in which the class size doubles and academics suddenly increase in rigor.

Even though those are two of the more common reasons why eighth graders may fear the transition to high school, everyone has their own thoughts and concerns regarding what school life will be like on the other side. To get an idea of some of their worries and general thoughts, I talked to some of my fellow ‘23 classmates.

“At first it will probably be a bit awkward because we’ve all been together so long and made so many memories,” says Anya Rose ‘23 on the subject of bringing new friends into the mix. “But after a little while we won’t even remember who came when… I think that the whole transition is going to happen a lot quicker then any of us think!”

Clara Pierce ‘23, on the other hand, thinks that one of the bigger changes will have to do with the amount of diligence students will need to have.

“We’ll be expected to work harder and do better in general once we’re in high school. Sports will be a lot more competitive and will require a lot of skill and commitment,” she shares. “Everything will, in fact.”

Similarly, Rose also expressed apprehension when posed with the question of what one of the biggest changes will be: “I think the stress level will change a lot when we start high school… [T]here will probably be many new expectations pushed upon us that we have to adjust to. After two years of being in ‘the middle school,’ it will be different to be ‘the freshman.’”

What Rose and Pierce bring up are some very real worries that many students both now and in the past have had. Since worries sometimes prove to be unfounded, however, I asked some ninth graders who recently went through the transition to describe what their personal experiences were like.

“The biggest change was definitely effort and the dynamic of the grade,” notes Lori Jang ‘22. “Not only did I begin to realize that grades really start to count in freshman year, I realized how there were more expectations for a freshman rather than an eighth grader.”

Sareen Armenian ‘22 believes that socially, the transition for her turned out well. “I met so many of the new kids and ended up making some great friends,” she says. “[The trip to] Catalina really helped us bond and get to know each other.”

Jang is also very happy with the friends she has made as a result of the transition. “While a lot of people were worried about having friend groups torn apart, having these new students come in has honestly been my favorite part of the year,” she reflects.

As stressful and uncertain as change can be, sometimes the things we worry most about are those that end up being the best parts. Good advice for the class of 2023 to heed in their transition to high school!