People often refer to middle school as a "bubble" -- students are doing their reading, writing and arithmetic, of course, but sometimes the process is emphasized more than the end result. Kids are learning about themselves, secure in their own little community, and there's not much focus on the outside world. But that all changes in high school. Suddenly the goal is very clear: college. No more fooling around -- this is the real deal. Some students, to be sure, are grade-focused from day one, so this change in objectives can be exhilarating -- finally, all those As count for something! However, it can be jarring for a child who might not have been all that concerned about grades. So again, it's up to you, parents -- it's your job to remind underperformers to step up to the plate.