A new school year presents a wealth of opportunities for incoming students. Students returning to the same school can build upon the previous year’s successes, while students transitioning from elementary school to middle school or middle school to high school can embrace the excitement and accept the challenges posed by continuing on their academic journeys.
It’s not uncommon for all students to experience some first day jitters, but that nervous excitement might be especially pronounced for transfer students. The transition to a new school is made simpler for many students because they make it alongside classmates they’ve known for years. Transfer students have no such security blanket, but can embrace the following strategies as they prepare to begin the school year in a whole new environment.
• Attend student orientation sessions. Orientation sessions can benefit any student, but may be especially useful for transfer students. Orientation sessions typically include a campus tour, a rundown of both academic and social activities and a chance to meet the school staff, including teachers and coaches. Transfer students who attend these sessions also may meet fellow classmates, who typically serve as guides on campus tours or in other capacities which requires them to interact with session attendees. This can be a great opportunity to connect with individuals who could serve as a familiar face come the first day of school.
• Schedule a visit with a guidance counselor. Guidance counselors can be invaluable resources for transfer students. Parents can come along and discuss the student’s interests in a direct conversation with a counselor, who can fill the family in on all that’s available on campus. That can include academics and extracurricular activities.
• Dive in socially. Though it’s not always easy to transfer to a new school that already has its own social networks, the best way to meet new people is to make a concerted effort to engage socially. Student-athletes may have an advantage because the team atmosphere provides a ready-made social network. However, extracurricular clubs also provide that benefit and do so without the added pressure of competing for a spot on a team.
• Don’t go it alone. Students should recognize that the transition is not something they need to do on their own. If students transferred because their family moved, then others in the family, including parents, are likely to experience their own ups and downs as well. Speak with parents and siblings if the transition does not get off to a smooth start. Such openness can open the door to new strategies and help to alleviate some of the stress that can accompany a transition to a new school.
A new school year can be a nervous time for transfer students. However, various strategies can help to make the transition go more smoothly.