Foundations for life set in 8th grade

The good news for eighth-graders is that they will start their freshman year of high school with a clean slate, said Harriet Armstrong of the Bartholomew County Financial Literacy Coalition.

The bad news? Everything begins to count next year, she said.

A student’s choice of high school classes, as well as their grade-point average, will ultimately play crucial roles in their path to college, which will likely impact them the rest of their lives, she said.

The following four reasons why eighth grade matters, written by former Lone Star State Dean of College Relations Andi Atkinson, was first published in 2015.

  • Harder coursework: The coursework is getting harder, and students are often asked to apply multiple subjects into a single project. Schoolwork is now a more significant part of life, and eighth-graders must start putting forth more effort to maintain high grades.
  • Groups and social development: Adolescents are developing physically and socially, while facing many social pressures. Students are learning more about themselves as well as their talents and abilities. It is also a crucial year for them to gain –- or lose -– self-confidence and motivation. Students who find success in the eighth grade, whether it be in a subject, sport or a club, tend to experience more success in the later grades.
  • Successful habits: In eighth grade and beyond, school is not just about making high grades. The organizational skills, time management and study habits of students affect their grades as much, if not more, than their intelligence. Eighth grade is the time for students to start organizing and developing smart and practical lifelong habits.
  • Priorities: On their journey to adulthood, most eighth graders have increased responsibilities both at home and school. Yet, they are also exposed to more choices. Deciding to do homework after school or play video games with friends depends on the student’s priority. Priorities established in the eighth grade will likely be the same in the high school, so it is important for students to determine their long-term goals so they can make the best decisions.
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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.