It’s time to move up to the big kids table. Eighth grade is quickly coming to an end with the next level, high school a few months away. Bigger cafeterias, more hallways to navigate and twice as many students. High school is the time when 13-17-year-old students blossom into teenagers.

High school offers a student the chance to explore, learn and develop. Academics, personal talents and authentic personality all come to life during high school. Will it be a traditional college prep setting or maybe vocational technical training? STEM, STEAM curriculum?   about Junior ROTC?  But how do we choose for our Middle School student?

Parents of soon to be high school freshman should talk to them now. Talk about interest, academic paths, desires to learn with one’s hands or a combination of both. Not sure how to determine the high school path for a student. Consider using a career match survey sponsored by the folks at A survey that brings talent and interest into the conversation. But most importantly, visit with your 8th grade student all of your high school options.

Consider these areas when investigating all types of high school settings.

  • Will the student be challenged academically? What level of math, science and language will a freshman be taking? Where do they end as seniors?
  • How does the school celebrate and support a student’s authentic self?
  • Are students encouraged to take honors course when success in standard classes comes easy?
  • What is the balance between academic and shop classes?
  • Are students encouraged to find their own identity through clubs and organizations?
  • Is there equal celebration for drama/theater & band as there is for athletics.
  • What is the reputation of the faculty and administration?
  • What type of academic support is offered students? How do you measure its effectiveness?
  • How does the administration address social issues like bullying & drugs; head on or with a naked eye?
  • How will a student be challenged to grow his/her personal character, expand one’s “moral compass”? Are service projects organized?
  • Does the system participate in dual enrollment with area colleges?

Study and time management skills are honed in the 6-7 through projects and activities and by 8th grade one’s self-discipline and moral compass begins to form. As a enters 9th grade they are on their way to formulating their high school resume which will help to identify their path after high school. The experience between 9th and 12th grade defines a student’s readiness to follow their path after high school. For some it will be college, others a professional trade and for many a combination of both. All should be celebrated. No longer do we live in a society where one path is the only direction for high school students.

Four years will be gone in the snap of your fingers. Open your Middle School student’s eyes to their possibilities – options for high school. The next transition will be very successful!!