Starting a new school

School when you’re a teenager is already a lot so when you’re thrown into a new environment it can feel like the end of the world. We promise it’s not though. Soon you’ll feel like you’ve been at your new school your entire life. The Mix talks you through everything you need to know, like how to make friends at a new school and what to look forward to.

Two young people are standing by lockers. They are starting a new school. This is a wide-angle image.

If you’re starting at a totally new school, it’s natural to feel anxious about new faces, new challenges and new environments, but that’s not all this new school will be. You’ll end up learning a lot about yourself and making some great friends. 

I’m scared about starting a new school

The leap from primary school to secondary school or from secondary school to college can feel impossible to overcome. For example, you may be worried that

  • You won’t fit in.
  • Your workload will be too much to handle.
  • You won’t make new friends.
  • The teachers won’t be welcoming and/or any good.

Trust us, you’re far from the only one feeling nervous on that first day in school. You can even break the ice with someone in your class by talking about how weird being in a new school is. It’ll help you bond and find some common ground. Or just chat about the latest season of Bridgerton as a conversation starter – there’s like a 90% chance they’ll have seen it and start ranting about their favourite scene. And if not, they’ll still feel really good that you’ve spoken to them.

How to prepare for the next school year

To try and eliminate some of your worries under control, make sure you’re as prepared as possible for your school year: 

  • Set your alarm clock and practice getting up earlier about a week beforehand to get into a routine.
  • Get your school uniform ironed, ready and laid out for you to throw on in the morning.
  • Prepare the books you’ll need for next year.
  • If you have a sibling or friend already at your new school, ask them what it’s like.
  • You could even try visiting the school beforehand to get the lay of the land.

As well as practical things to keep yourself calm during the summer break, remember to give yourself a break. Read your favourite books, lounge around watching Netflix or hang out with your friends. 

How to make friends at a new school

When you’re starting at a new school, the first thing you probably wonder is how to make friends at a new school. Luckily, we have some suggestions.

Seeing your new school or college through the car window and thinking, “this is terrible, what if everyone’s awful, what if I’m awful and lonely forever…” is a feeling we’ve all had. Yet, somehow we made some friends and lived to tell the tale. Here’s some of our wisdom

  • Find out if anyone from your old school is moving to your school. That way you’ll have a friendly face as soon as you enter. 
  • If your old school mates aren’t moving with you, find ways to keep in touch with them so you don’t get completely detached from your old life.
  • Join clubs/activities/sports teams at school to meet new, like-minded people.
  • Start a conversation with people sitting next to you in class and find out more about them. You may have more in common than you realise.
  • Remember to ask open ended questions, rather than yes/no questions and have open body language. This’ll make it a lot easier to get a conversion going. 

If you need more tips, then read The Mix’s article on how to make new friends here.

I’m worried about my new workload

Even if the workload isn’t that big a stretch from last year, sometimes the stress of the transition can make it seem like you’re trying to solve the theory of relativity. To try and combat this you should prepare by looking online and/or asking a teacher about which topics and subjects your year will be focusing on. If it still feels difficult, that’s because it’s meant to be a challenge, so don’t worry if you feel like you can’t do it at first. Remember how difficult learning your times tables seemed back in the day? 

Who can I talk to?

No matter how you’re feeling about this new chapter of your life, it’s important to talk to people about it openly and honestly. Rina Bajaj, a service manager at Place2Be, a charity offering emotional and therapeutic support in schools, says: “Talking to classmates initially can be a great way to let you know you’re not alone. Plus you’ll get to hear about how they might be feeling about the change, and that can really help.” 

“The chances are that other students will be in the exact same position. If you have a conversation about it, you can be each other’s support systems while navigating this new environment.” 

If you’re not ready to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you, try to speak to your friends, family or even an in-school support service instead. And if you’re not sure who that should be, we’ve got an article to help you find someone to talk to if you’re struggling.

What to look forward to

There’s so much to look forward to when you’re starting a new school. No one ever got through life staying in the exact same place they started, right? So rather than dreading a new school, see it as an opportunity. You’ll get to form new connections with people and learn new things. Eventually, it’ll go from being your new school to just being school.

We would love to hear about your experiences of starting a new school and making new friends. Share your story on our discussion boards. And you can check out the rest of The Mix’s school, college and university resources in our student life hub here.

Next Steps

  • You can talk to Childline about anything. Call them for free on 0800 1111 or visit their website.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 16-Apr-2022