How Are New Freshmen Transitioning?

I’deyah Ricketts The word “freshman” dates back to the mid-16th century when it was commonly used to refer to a “newcomer” or “novice.” By definition, freshman year, then, is a period of transitioning, but not all Latin freshmen come from common backgrounds. While “lifers” have known each other since junior kindergarten, many students walk through the doors the first day of freshman year without knowing one familiar face. This prompts the question of how well new freshmen adjust to Latin’s foreign environment. On the subject of placement into Honors classes, Mr. Choi, an Upper School science teacher, commented that, “I would say that placement for new students is not necessarily harder. Placement is based on a few different factors. For students in middle school based on testing scores and recommendations by middle school teachers. For students that are new it is based on the same things except for eighth grade teachers.” Although it would be a new environment for a new student, they have the same advantages as a lifer would, since it is solely based on your academics. “I would say the percentage of new students that are placed in honors classes is not very different,” said Mr. Choi. “The greatest determination is really math background.” Whether a new student fits into an Honors class is obviously based on their ability to transition, but it is usually harder for a new student than an old student. “I think I would say it is definitely more difficult but how difficult it is to transition is how similar the previous school was academically and socially,” said Mr. Choi. “So, if their previous school had a rigorous type of curriculum or similar ways of teaching than it makes it easier for the student.” Socially, it is harder for those who are new to Latin because even if they are strong academically, “it is a new culture very different from their own.” I myself am a new student and I know the transition was rough for me personally. Mr Choi advises that “building relationships with the teachers is really important for not only getting support, but also to develop healthy habits of communication. It is really important to form study cohorts by finding other students that are committed academically. Being able to lean on one another academically and socially is critical for success especially with new challenges. Seeing teachers as your first resource in a part of the culture of support is key to success. And finally, being a self advocate for when things are difficult and you are struggling is a critical skill to have because everybody struggles at some point.” As you can see, freshmen who come from different middle schools must overcome some challenges, but so does every other freshman. It is how you transition and develop academically that matters.]]>