PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
High School: Small Fish-Again

In your last year in middle school, you were part of the oldest group of kids. You knew the ropes, you had it all figured out-you basically ruled the school! Now, get ready to be on the bottom again.

As the new kids in town, you and your fellow freshmen might feel intimidated by students who seem so old, so big, and to have everything under control. You survived being the littlest students in middle school once, so remember: you've done this before! Here are some ideas that might help you deal:

  • Know the "official" rules. Your high school might print up a student guide or handbook that lists school rules and regulations-plus what might happen if you break them. Take the time to read through these rules so you won't accidentally cross the line. Don't rely on rumors you hear from other students; if you have a question about what is or isn't allowed, ask a teacher or counselor.

  • Know the "unofficial" rules, too. Maybe freshmen always sit at the front of the bus. Maybe there's a certain courtyard or outdoor area where only seniors hang out. These are more like traditions than rules, and although you won't get detention for "breaking" them, you might ruffle a few feathers and leave yourself open to bullying. Pick your battles. If there's a tradition that doesn't cause anyone physical or emotional harm, you'll fit in better by going along with it (and remember that someday you'll be the one at the back of the bus!).

  • Don't believe everything you hear. Worried that someone's going to trap you in a locker, shove you down the stairs, or give you an Atomic Wedgie just because you're new to the school? It's common for rumors like this to run amok and feed freshmen fears. Don't buy into the hype. Talk to older students - a sibling, a friend's sibling, a neighbor - or teachers to find out what really happens-or in many cases, doesn't happen.

  • Get involved. Being part of clubs, activities, and sports will give you a chance to know older students you might not otherwise meet in classes.

  • Don't live in a sib's shadow. If your have an older sibling who goes to or recently went to your school, you might have a reputation to live up to-or live down. For example, if your brother was a bit of a troublemaker, teachers and staff members may be a little prejudiced against you. The same goes if your sister finished first in her class. Make sure that people know you are a different person, and if you feel there's a problem, speak up. The good news? Being someone's little bro or sis may open the door for older kids to get to know you.

  • Be true to your school. Your school is your team, and you should root for it. Show up for events like pep rallies, football games, school plays, and art nights. If you feel like you're part of the community, you'll probably fit in faster and feel more comfortable.

  • Don't suffer in silence. Upperclassmen may think of freshmen as easy targets for teasing or harassment. Being older does NOT give students the right to do this, and being younger does NOT mean you have to put up with it. If you're being bullied on a regular basis, talk to an adult right away.

  • Remember what worked the last time. How did you deal with being the youngest kids in middle school? Who helped you then, and who can help you this time around? Was it as bad as you thought it was going to be?

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