Many high school freshman and their parents are curious about college prep. Many think the most important thing is to start building the college list. However, college prep includes a lot more than just deciding what college to attend. College prep for freshmen is all about doing well academically and building their “resume.” Choosing colleges can wait. The most important thing for new high school freshman is to ensure they are on the right academic path to college. Here are five things high school freshmen should focus on as they enter high school.
- Meet your school counselor. Your school counselor will be a wealth of knowledge and a great resource throughout your time in high school. Your counselor can make recommendations for classes, extracurricular activities, and volunteer experiences. They can also give recommendations on colleges when the time comes. In addition, it is great to get to know your school counselor because in a few years they will need to write a letter of recommendation for your college applications. Counselors who genuinely know their students have an easier time writing an authentic letter in your favor.
- Review your academic schedule. You chose your classes for your freshman year while you were still in middle school. Some students might have had some guidance, but others may have chosen classes solely based on friends or other non-academic reasons. Students should make sure they are in the right classes for their college preparation. Discuss your class schedule with your counselor and look into taking more academic classes. In addition, if you are up for the challenge, get into honors or Advanced Placement classes. The classes you take freshman year can dictate your courses through senior year. Make sure you are on track to take the most challenging classes because grades and course selection can play a huge role in the college admissions process.
- Join extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities and volunteer activities can give students a boost in college admissions. Students who have a history of quality activities will have an advantage over students who did not participate in anything outside of the classroom. Freshman year is a great time to explore activities, as well as getting to know your passions and interests. As students spend more time with an activity, they can work their way up to a leadership role later during their high school career.
- Do well academically. There is a myth out there that admissions officers do not care about freshman year. That is far from the truth. If freshman year is included on transcripts, admissions officers will see it. If students have poor grades freshman year, admissions officers will question it. Use freshman year to build good academic habits and learn to ask for help when you need it.
- Search for scholarships. Another myth out there is that students can’t start applying for scholarships until their senior year. While it is true most of the scholarships are only open to high school seniors, there are some for younger students. Start searching and applying for scholarships now. You can start by checking my list of scholarships open to high school freshmen.
Students who do well academically and are involved in quality activities will have many opportunities. This is why it is important to focus first on doing well and getting involved than what college you will attend. You will have the opportunity to learn more about colleges during your time in high school, but first make sure you will be on the best path to get admitted to the colleges you will soon discover.
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This is a great list, Jessica! So many parents tell me that they will contact me about college scholarships when their students are seniors. I’m glad that scholarships made it on your freshmen list!
It is definitely important to start thinking about paying for college. You don’t have to know where you’re going, but talking about cost and how you’ll pay for it is important to start thinking about early.