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6 Tips for an Easy Transition from Middle School to Upper School

Students walking through the main gates to campus

At Wilbraham & Monson Academy, we want our students to be “At Home. In the World.”

This means that, as a college-preparatory Middle and Upper school, we strive to provide students with everything they need to use their talent, intelligence, courage, and creativity to carve out their personal journeys.

One of the most significant milestones along this journey? The transition from the middle grades to the Upper School.

Between an increase in school size, more responsibility, physical and emotional changes, and evolving relationships with friends, moving from Middle School to Upper School is a period of intense change. However, having a better idea of what to expect makes the transition a little easier.

At WMA, we know Middle School students – and we have six tips for a seamless transition from middle to upper school:

  1. Adjust academic expectations. It should be no surprise that Upper School academics are more demanding. That’s why it’s crucial early on to cultivate time management skills, note-taking strategies, and effective study habits. As students delve deeper into subjects in upper school, they’ll want to leave more time and space to manage a heavier workload.
  2. Be proactive. While many students in early grade levels rely on parents and instructors to guide their education, Upper School gives students a chance to take initiative in their education and plan their future career paths. This freedom makes it even more important to actively seek out opportunities and ask for help if needed. While this might feel intimidating, the reality is that most Middle School students have been (or are in) the same situation — and teachers genuinely do want to help! Instead of quietly struggling, find resources for support, whether it’s a mental or emotional issue that needs to be addressed or an academic problem that needs to be overcome.
  3. Try out new social experiences. With a larger student body comes opportunities for new friendships and experiences. Middle School students should make an effort to get to know their teachers, advisors, and classmates. One easy way to do this is to join and actively engage in our Athletics and Afternoon Activities programs, which provide plenty of opportunities to deepen new connections. WMA’s Upper School offers a plethora of extracurriculars and activities, giving students the chance to socialize and find their fit within the community.
  4. Stay organized. Upper School often involves a more complex schedule with more intensive assignments. Students who stay organized will waste less time and feel less overwhelmed. It’s important to figure out a system of organization that works for each student personally so they can keep track of assignments, due dates, and tests; have enough time for extracurriculars; and avoid the stress of last-minute cramming due to procrastination.
  5. Take advantage of hands-on learning opportunities. Upper School is arguably the best time for students to spread their wings and truly get a taste of the variety that the real world has to offer. Students can explore global relationships with an international travel experience or engage in exploratory research and hands-on trading in WMA's Mark R. Shenkman Trading Center. Our 5,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art iLab space is also an educational playground for the curious, dedicated to helping students uncover their passions.
  6. Maintain perspective on future goals. Upper School isn’t just about the present; it’s a stepping stone toward future aspirations. At WMA, we give students the resources they need as they contemplate college and career trajectories. We encourage each of our students to take full advantage of the unique experiences we offer so they are equipped for what lies beyond.

To be “At Home. In the World.”, our students first need to feel at home while in school. Because the transition from Middle to Upper School is such a major transition and time of growth, WMA created the Grade 8 Moving Up Program. This program helps families feel informed and comfortable about the change to Upper School.

As part of Grade 8 Moving Up, we host an open house for students and parents and shadow days, when students can experience the school and learn from current students. To learn more about the support provided at WMA, please contact us or schedule an in-person or virtual campus visit.

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