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What's the biggest difference between elementary school and middle school? What's the best way to deal with it?

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Middle School: What's Different At first, middle school may seem like a mysterious place full of strangers and surprises. Here are some of the most common changes you'll be facing:
Topics on Middle School:
Movin' On Up
What's Different
The Student Body
Stan and Sarah
A Principal's Advice
From the Mentors
Girl at school More Work!
Teachers in middle school often view their students as young adults. This means that your assignments and tests will be more challenging. In addition to your nightly dose of homework, you may also have papers and exams for the first time. The workload may seem overwhelming, but your teachers will most likely understand that you and your classmates are making an adjustment. If you feel that they don't understand this and you're having trouble with the amount of work expected of you, make sure you bring it up with a parent or school counselor.

The A-B-C's
Back in elementary school, your teachers may have graded you with marks like "check plus," "excellent," or a number scale. Now that you're in middle school, chances are that you'll be graded with the letter system: A, B, C, D, or F. There are also in-between grades like "A-", "C+," etc. This system may feel more competitive, and you might find yourself and your classmates comparing grades. Remember that your grades are your own business, and if sharing them makes it seem like you're in some kind of contest with other students, or generally makes you feel bad about how you're doing, keep them to yourself. Also, remember to talk to your teacher, parent, or school counselor if you feel you're being graded unfairly.

The Big Lock-Up
Most likely, the hallways of your middle school are lined with lockers, and one of them will be your very own "home base" during the day. Instead of lugging your stuff around in one bag, or stashing it in a classroom desk or cubby, you now have a place to store everything safely. The best part about your locker: being able to decorate it with photos, drawings, magazine clippings, and anything else that makes it feel like you. The worst part? Sometimes, students end up with a locker next to somebody who picks on them. Most schools will let you switch lockers if this, or anything else about your locker location, gets to be a problem.

Library Heaven!
Chances are, your middle school library is bigger and better than the one at your old school. Many middle school libraries have more than just books -- they might also have computers, video stations, and other forms of media to help you learn. They're great locations for doing homework, studying for tests, and gathering research for papers.

On Schedule
A different class, in a different room, every hour? Different classes on different days? Yikes! No doubt about it: the middle school "class schedule" can seem pretty hairy at first. You'll probably have it down in no time, but new buildings and new routines are confusing for everyone. If you have trouble finding something, or keeping track of where you have to be, speak up! Your teachers, counselors, and other school staff are there to help.

Bye Bye Recess
In elementary school, recess was probably your favorite part of the day, right? So how will you survive without it? You'll most likely have a lunch period, "study hall," or "nutrition period" to relax or work on some class assignments with friends.

Extra-Curriculars
Here's one of the best parts about middle school: the chance to get involved in after-school sports, clubs, and activities. From football to field hockey, from drama club to school yearbook, these "extra-curriculars" are a great way to make friends, explore new interests, and, of course, have lots of fun.

Up next: the people of middle school make for one interesting Student Body!

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