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In high school, social pressure is huge

Gerald Bradshaw

Gerald Bradshaw

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Updated: October 7, 2013 12:43PM



Dear Mr. Bradshaw,

I am a female starting ninth grade this fall. I got straight A grades in middle school and I want to go to a good college after I graduate. What do I need to be prepared for as I enter my freshman year in high school?

Signed: Ninth-grader

Dear Ninth-grader,

First of all let me congratulate you for doing so well in middle school. Middle school is typically seen as a critical foundation for ninth grade. But, even though you did well academically, students typically find their freshman year brings a whole new set of challenges that must be dealt with and that go far beyond grades and homework. Many students say ninth grade is a huge culture shock.

Generally a student’s freshman year means getting used to a new school, class schedules and a new set of friends. Classes will be harder to earn a grade of A in and you should expect the pressure from a new set of peers to pull you in many directions.

Fortunately, judged by your grades, academic achievement should not be a problem. A straight-A record means that you learned the fundamentals of how to study and manage your time and this should carry over into ninth grade. Because there will be many more students to compete with than in middle school, expect to work a lot harder to keep up the same grade point average.

The biggest difference between middle school and high school is the pressure to “fit in.” And, to some extent, the pressure is different for girls than it is for boys.

In ninth grade you may be faced with a whole new set of classmates. Many of them will be strangers. Most of the friends you made in middle school no longer sit next to you in class and a lifetime of friendship may seem broken. The isolation you may feel will take getting used to from day one.

Girls find the isolation more daunting than boys if judged by high school blogs. Boys experience various forms of teasing almost as a rite of passage starting in grade school, and certainly in sports played in the middle school years. For girls, without the safety and security of old friends to protect you, it may seem cruel that your appearance, dress or ethnic background may be critiqued.

The next impression is that a few of your new classmates will probably seem meaner, seemingly wanting to harm you.

There appears to be more drama played out among girls on social media as well. While pre-Internet parents passed notes back and forth in class, Facebook is now used as a tool to spread rumors, photos, false accusations and disrespectful innuendo about classmates.

With the addition of smart phones all it takes is a matter of seconds before finding that you are the victim of an attack that can be very painful to experience. While boys may experience similar criticism they have been trained to shrug it off and move on.

Social pressure is a huge issue in ninth grade. I recommend going online to do a Google search for what other students have to say.

Ninth grade is not all about learning how to adapt to a new curriculum or to set your course for your college years. Responding to social pressure is part of growing up and must be properly be dealt with by students and their parents.



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