What to do if you’re sent to a scary school

amason7 asks: I failed 2 subjects at school, and my parents say that they are going to change me to a very bad school. I fear for my future. What do I do?

Hi amason7 –

I’m not sure what you’re fearing – if it’s the effect of failing the classes or the bad school.  Or both.

If it’s about the classes, the odds are you’re worrying more than is deserved.  People fail classes and exams all the time, and manage to move on to great lives and careers.  There may be lessons to learn from the failures, and if so I’m all for that.  But in terms of the immediate effects of the exams, you might have to retake those classes, or not get into some schools you want, but in the long term I think it’ll be fine.  Hey I had to get trained in staying so many times – each time I’d think I’d nailed it, I’d screw up and have to go through it all over again.  And my life’s fine!

But then about the school – what kind of “very bad” school is it?  Are you scared because there’s lots of violence there, or just because it’s not considered as good academically as the one you were at before?  If it’s about the academics, then your job is simple: just work really hard and be the best student you can be, so you can work your way up to a better school.

But if you’re truly frightened for your safety, that’s pretty awful.  If that’s the case, I have a few thoughts:

1)    You might be wrong.  Sometimes I see some big dogs and figure they want to hurt me, so I roll over on my back to show them that I’m not a threat, and then I find out that they’re just friendly knuckleheads like me, and want to play and run.  This could be the same situation.  Maybe these kids come from different neighborhoods than you, or have different social status or finances, but there’s a really good chance you’ll find some really nice friends there, as long as you’re willing and able to try.

2)    If you’re right, though, you can still make nice friends.  Your job is to be as calm as you can, and carry an air of confidence, so the tougher kids don’t see you as a target.  One still might try to mess with you, but even then, if you can just let them know that you’re not interested in the things they want to do (fight, etc.), you’ll most likely be okay.  But even with those people, be respectful and friendly.  If they feel you’re acting like you’re better than them, you’ll invite more chances of bad things happening.  When I’m at the dog park, lots of dogs are really excited by every fight that takes place, but I just walk away from them.  There are so many more enjoyable things to sniff out!

3)    Don’t be afraid to be a tattle-tale.  Try as long as you can to resolve things on your own, but if some kids just make it impossible, go talk to a teacher or administrator.  The people who tell you you shouldn’t are doing so because they’re scared of the power those adults have, and so will try to make it sound like you’re the frightened one, when they really are.  You have the right.

4)    Similarly, if the school is really awful, don’t hesitate to talk with your parents about it.  It sounds like they’re sending you to that other school to teach you some discipline.  Not to get you hurt.  If you are actually in danger, I’ll bet they’ll take you out.

5)    But I’m going to go back to my earlier comment.  MAKE FRIENDS.  Friends are the difference between a miserable environment and a place you look forward to.  So, on your first day, look around for people who might be like you, who like to do the things you enjoy.  Does the school have athletics you like, or activities you’ve liked at other schools?  Great.  And if not, if they have different things, see what you might like to try.  Maybe you like to sing and can join the choir, or you like building things and they have a shop you could use.  But the best thing about those activities is the people you’ll meet in them.


When Handsome was young, his parents pulled him out of his school and put him in another where he didn’t know anyone.  He was very unhappy about it, and pretty resentful.  But after a while, he began to enjoy the other school much more than he had the one before.  Not because they had a better gym or art department (they didn’t!).   It was just because of the people.


So, my friend, find out what you did wrong on those exams so you never have to feel that awful emotion again.  And look on this new school as an exciting adventure.  Who knows, it might be the best thing that ever happened to you!
Good Luck!



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