Transition to High School
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FROM EIGHTH GRADE STUDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES REGARDING THE TRANSITION TO HIGH SCHOOL
In conjunction with the school's mission statement, the vision of the guidance office is to provide all students with the opportunities to acquire the academic, personal, and career skills essential to graduating from high school and becoming productive citizens who respect themselves and others.
What is the "real" difference between College Preparatory and Honors Courses?
Both honors level and college preparatory level courses are designed to challenge students and prepare them with the skills essential for success after graduation from high school. Generally, honors courses require more extensive reading, writing and analyzing from students and the course typically moves at a quicker pace, covering more indepth material.
What is the effect on college placement if one only takes CP level-courses?
Both honors and college preparatory courses will prepare students for future studies in college. It is important for the student to select courses that will challenge him or her and it is important to do well in the courses that the student selects.
How many "honors" courses should one take?
Students know themselves best - they know their study skills and study habits and only they know "how many" honor courses is best to take. Strong students might challenge themselves with several honors level courses while less confident students might feel overwhelmed with the workload or quicker pace of an honors level course.
How much homework can be expected at the HS (freshman year specifically)?
This answer varies according to the level and the course, but as a standard, teachers expect students to spend 30 to 45 minutes each night doing homework for a College Preparatory or Honors level class.
The HS schedule (how does it actually work)?
The high school schedule rotates over eight days before it completes one cycle. Each day contains six class periods that are approximately one hour in length. Periods 1, 2, and 3 rotate only in the morning while periods 4, 5 and 6 rotate only in the afternoon. After the first two classes in the morning, there is a fifteen minute "snack break" for all students. There are two scheduled times for lunch: first lunch is from 11:57 to 12:20 and second lunch is from 12:52 to 1:15. Students’ lunch schedules are pre-determined according to who teaches their 5th period class. Classes begin at 7:40 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m. After school help is available from 2:15 to 3:00 on Mondays through Thursdays.
Some new freshmen might be worried about getting lost at the high school….it seems so large.
Freshmen are the first ones to share with us that the high school building is easy to learn and to navigate. During the first week of classes, teachers and "peer helpers" walk the corridors to assist new students while they learn the building. After a week or two freshmen feel comfortable and confident in their new school.
Do freshman get picked on by upper-class students?
The answer is no. We tell all students at the beginning of each year that should they experience harassment/bullying of any sort to notify a teacher, school counselor or an administrator immediately. The administration, faculty and staff of the regional district are committed to providing a safe and secure atmosphere in both the middle school and in the high school. Besides, many students are already friends with upper-class students who are neighbors or who ride the school bus.
Are there a lot of drugs at the HS?
There is a zero tolerance level for bringing illegal substances on to school grounds. Should a student feel unsafe at any time or wish to discuss a potential concern, the school encourages the student to stop at guidance and speak with a counselor or a "peer helper."
Are there lots of parties where alcohol is present?
Underage drinking is illegal and attending parties where alcohol is present or being served is just asking for trouble. Many upper-class DS students avoid parties where alcohol is present and will tell younger students to do the same.
What are the teachers like? What do they expect? Will they help me?
The teachers at the high school enjoy working with young adults. They enjoy getting to know their students and enjoy helping them become successful students. Each teacher at the high school is committed to helping their students master their subject material and are available for extra help most days after school. As far as teacher expectations….they expect that students will come to class with a positive attitude toward learning, that students will complete assignments faithfully, and that they will speak with the teacher if they are experiencing difficulty with the course material or homework completion.
Is high school really stressful?
Many students hear stories about how stressful high school can be at times, and perhaps there might be times when the student stress level run a bit high…like around mid-year or final exams or even finding a prom date. There are many reasons that people feel anxiety or stress, and everyone feels it differently. What may stress one person may not ruffle a feather of another. Some factors that may cause stress are due to personal circumstances while other factors are caused by our environment. If you feel stressed, speak with your guidance counselor or another adult with whom you feel comfortable. Talking always helps!!!
What are the graduation requirements?
As outlined in the Program of Studies, all students must earn 140 course credits and satisfy 40 hours of community service to earn a Dover-Sherborn high school diploma. The specific requirements are listed on page one of the Program of Studies.
What about the MCAS? Do I need to pass it in order to graduate?
All students in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must pass the English/Language Arts and the Mathematics parts of the MCAS exam given in sophomore year to be eligible for a high school diploma. Students who fail either or both parts of these exams will be given opportunities to re-take the test during their junior and senior years and will be provided with remedial programs to help them build stronger skills. Additionally, students must also earn a passing grade in a high school Science and Technology/Engineering MCAS during their high school years. Dover-Sherborn freshmen are provided with the opportunity to pass the MCAS exam in biology and complete this state requirement early in their high school careers.
What are the SAT's and when do we take them?
Scholastic Assessment Test is a three-hour thirty-five minute CollegeBoard, multiple choice test measuring verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities that are developed over the years. The critical reading section measures your abilities to identify genre, relationships among parts of a text, cause and effect, rhetorical devices and comparative arguments. The math section measures your abilities to solve problems involving topics from Geometry, Algebra I and Algebra II. The writing section asks you to compose and essay requiring you to take a position on an issue, analyze it and support your viewpoint. Additionally, multiple choice questions measure our grammar abilities. Test scores from each of the three sections are reported on a scale of 200 to 800 with a national average at about 500 for each section, with composite scores of between 600 and 2400.
The SAT is one component required for application to many colleges in the United States and most students take the SAT exam during the spring of JUNIOR year and again in the autumn of SENIOR year. And you ask what is the best preparation for this test? Listening to your teachers. Learn vocabulary for keeps, not just the quiz. Read editorials (especially compare and contrast) in the newspaper. Pay attention in math and really learn the formulas and rules.