There is so much to look forward to this year.
I remember the year I entered eighth grade. My classmates and I were so excited to finally “rule the school” – Saint Catherine’s, a tiny parochial school in Monmouth County, NJ that has since closed. After what seemed like an endless string of school years, eighth grade was the end of a journey in childhood. I felt very grown-up, wise, and ready for the next step in my academic career.
I already knew where I would be going to high school. My older sister attended a local Catholic high school and there was never any doubt that I would be accepted, too. I remember eighth grade being lots of fun, but I do recall feeling sad and nervous about leaving this cohort of friends, most of whom I had shared a classroom since kindergarten. Many were heading to the same high school so those friendships would continue, but this special group would never be the same. This is the only source of anxiety I remember from that year in my life. I never had a drop of stress about actually getting into the high school of my choice.
As the admissions director for Trinity Hall, I meet with students and their families as they begin the admissions process for high school. Many parents reach out to me in the spring of their daughter’s seventh-grade year so they can get a “jump” on the admissions process. I am a planner myself so I completely understand this strategy. Other parents contact me in the fall of their daughter’s eighth-grade year and feel worried that they have fallen behind (not the case). Still others call me in the late winter or early spring for the following fall, completely freaked out that they are so late to the game (well… this may be true). The common thread in all these conversations is the nervousness, in different increments, that applicants and their parents feel as they apply to high school.
The process at our school
begins in the fall with Open Houses, required testing dates and campus visits, much like many schools with an application process. I so enjoy meeting applicants as they determine which high school is the right fit for them. I just wish this process – the high school application process – didn’t fill them with so much anxiety. And I wish that it didn’t affect their ability to enjoy their eighth-grade year. That feeling of scarcity and competition can suck the joy and excitement out of at least half of the school year or more if you let it.
I am not fond of giving advice, but I have some to offer. Students: enjoy this school year. It is a capstone of your precious childhood and a celebration of all the hard work you’ve completed in your academic career thus far. When you fill out your high school applications, use it as an opportunity to reflect on all the wonderful things you’ve done. If you’re not satisfied with your list of accomplishments, set goals for yourself and choose a school that will help you attain them. Spend time with your friends, but avoid the tendency to compare a classmate’s opportunities with those offered to you. Everyone’s journey is personal and different, and your experience will be uniquely your own.
I hope you will consider Trinity Hall for your high school years. If you do, I look forward to meeting you. But please, one request: don’t stress out about the student interview. I promise I won’t ask you any trick questions!