5 Tips for Switching from Private to Public High School

Some kids will start out in a private school setting from the time they are young and then find themselves transitioning to a public middle or high school. This transition is something that can be done successfully, but it can also be a challenge especially if kids don’t know what to expect. Although each school situation will be different, there are a few universal situations that can help a student prepare for the impending transition.


1. Classroom size

One of the major differences between a private and public high school/middle school is the number of students in the classroom. A private school will serve a small to a moderate number of students who hail from the surrounding towns. A public school however, will serve any and all students who live in the local area. When transitioning from private to public school students should be aware that they will likely be 1 of 40, not 1 of 15. If they want the same level of participation they had at their previous school, they should sit in the first two rows and visit the teacher during ‘extra help’ hours (READ: “5 Things That Can Ruin Your Study Space”).

2. Attention from your teacher

Because a private school teacher may have as little as 15 students in the class, they can generally get to know each student -and their learning style, their strengths, and weaknesses- individually. This means that a student who is starting to falter will get prompt attention whether they want it or not. More supervision can equal higher grades in some situations. A teacher who has 40+ students in class may not be able to logistically attend to the individual needs of every student, as a result, transitioning students are encouraged to take the initiative to speak up and let their teacher know if they didn’t understand an assignment or if they need extra help with a specific concept. All teachers are there to help, but it’s important to ask.

3. Campus size

In addition to a larger classroom size, students who will be starting at a public school will often find themselves navigating a much larger campus than they are used to. During this transition, students can feel overwhelmed or even lost. Some public high schools are as big as a small college campus. It’s a good idea to take a tour of the campus before the first day of school and figure out where each class is located. Additionally, students should locate the library, lunch area, and front office. Middle school students will likely have an assigned buddy to take them around the first week, but high school students will probably be left to their own devices (READ: “4 Differences Between High School and College”).

4. Core curriculum

Because the state mandated public school curriculum, they are relatively inflexible. Students will have a choice of elective class and perhaps a choice between honors and standard classes, but for the most part their schedule will be chosen for them. This can be a big change if a student was used to petitioning into an alternate class with a favorite teacher or being excused from one class for another.

5. After school activities

In general, both public and private schools offer extracurricular and after school activities. Students who are adjusting to a new social setting should consider joining a club or group so they can make a few new friends straight away. Because changing schools can be a bit overwhelming, getting to know new people can be a big benefit!

Making the transition from private to public high school is challenging. Make the adjust smoother with the help of a private Irvine academic tutor. Call us today for more information.

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