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Picking A High School: Stick With Old Friends or Choose A New Path?

Updated: Oct 12, 2022


Hey party people. I know it’s only October 10th and pretty early into the year but if you are in your final year of elementary school, middle school, or high school (or just thinking about switching schools) it’s time to start considering your options. I currently feel this same sort of anxiety when it comes to picking a college and I think no matter what age or grade you are in, this feeling of uncertainty still applies.


I want to tell you all about my experience picking my middle/high school because it’s an interesting response to the dilemna of deciding whether you want to continue at a school where you already know a lot of people or maybe try something new. Basically in 2nd grade I switched elementary schools from a small Jewish day school to a celebrity-studded, elite private elementary school. The transition was a bit intense looking back on it but my naive 8 year old self didn’t truly realize the culture shock in the moment when I was experiencing it. From the second I started at this elementary school, my new classmates would talk about the high schools that their family friends, brothers, or sisters attended. There was one very prestigious middle/high school in particular that everyone talked about. My elementary school was a huge feeder to that school with its incredible academics,highly competitive environment, and reknowned reputation among top students and high status families in my city. Since my elementary school days I already knew that the high placement math students, very athletic classmates, and “popular” kids had their hearts seton this one school - and therefore, so did I. Long story short, I got waitlisted at this school and ended up choosing to attend the all girls middle and high school that I go to today. Only a few of my classmates also ended up going to secondary school with me. Initially it was the less attractive choice. I didn’t WANT to go to a girls school. It wasn’t some crazy dream of mine and I only applied to this one girls school; the rest were co-ed, pretty social schools. However, this ended up being my top school in the end and while I can’t even articulate how, looking back I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. Did have the best 6 years of my life? No. Did I always have a solid friend group? No. Were my classes always easy? No. Did I always know what I wanted to be or how to spend my time? No. Have I ever had a boyfriend? No. BUT, because I chose this school I developed the confidence to start Dear Monday blog. I also found a love for entrepreneurship and started my clotIhing line, discovered special friendships, surfed with classmates, tookup golf…. the list goes on. I truly believe that had I attended my initial first choice school, it would have shaped me in different ways and not necessarily for the better. I would definitely be more consumed by the judgments of others (especially boys), would have never had the fearlessness and ambition to start a lot of the projects I am working on, and become as lively and as engaged of a student as I am today.


I had chances to switch to my public high school, a very appealing choice only a block away from my house, filled with over 1000 students per grade, and a great social and athletic scene. It was asolid option and something I considered heavily. For several reasons I didn’t choose that option but I want to acknowledge the very enticing aspects of my local public school.


Another example of the benefits of keeping an open mind that I’ll share is the recent experience of my cousin who’s a freshman in high school now. Her two older brothers had attended a smaller, more academic public high school also in her neighborhood. This option was the ‘something new’/’take a path separate from your friends’ situation because they were all going to the other public high school in her area. She took that plunge to not follow the herd but within the first few days, she knew she had made a mistake. In that first week of school, she ended up switching to the local public high school that boasted a great football team, dance program, and most importantly, was filled with all her close elementary and middle schools friends. She doesn’t regret trying out a less conventional path in the beginning. She wanted to experience what that may have been but is also so glad she made the choice to switch.


Long story short, no one can tell you what to do. You have to spend time weighing your options and considering all the pros and cons. But in the end, this may or may not be reassuring, your path will ultimately reveal itself. It may be that you’re absolutely obsessed with the choice you made or that it may become evident that you need to make a change. However, I would say that you definitely should not make a decision about school based solely on friends. Some of my best friends go to different schools than I do and that’s why our friendship thrives. No need to make your academic decisions based on other people.


Knowing that in the end my fate will sort of be decided for me and that everything will work out has given me a sense of security that I think may help to reassure you too. If there’s anyone that can go in circles for hours trying to talk herself into thinking that one option is better or worse than the other… it’s me. I did it with high schools and now i’m doing it with colleges. But my younger self had no idea that I would have achieved the things I have and grown into a woman I am genuinely proud of every day. I love who I am. I love the people with whom I surround myself. I have great values and appreciate my life immensely. I know you all do too. That’s why no matter where you end up, you will have a fabulous experience… and if you don’t, you just make a switch that works for you. Take a risk, see what happens.


We got this,

Sophia


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