By Charlotte Klaar —
Most experts consider junior year to be the most consequential in college admissions, and this may well be true. But senior year is nearly as important since it’s the year in which that you finalize and submit your applications. In both years, you face many choices that have ramifications beyond college and into your career.
It’s not just your years as an upperclassman that count. All four years of high school contribute to your ultimate success. The more you accomplish in the first two years, the less your burden will be in the last two years. The stress can be intense coming down the stretch, so we advise that you plan for each year of your high school career so that, at its culmination, you’re confident and looking forward to what’s ahead.
Steps to Take in FRESHMAN YEAR
A study by the Brookings Institute found that 9th grade is the most critical year in the formation of a student’s potential. Your academic performance as a freshman sets the tone for the rest of your education.
- Start Out with a High GPA
Freshman year counts toward your cumulative GPA and has an impact on your final class rank. It’s great for your GPA to be an rising trajectory in junior year, but it’s even better if your record has been so excellent since 9th grade that a rise isn’t even needed. A high GPA that doesn’t need to be raised in junior year avoids much of the stress that can burden you as a junior.
- Meet with Your Guidance Counselor
Guidance counselors play an essential role in your college admissions campaign. They’re busy people, so the responsibility is on you to schedule meetings with them. As a freshman, you can start a discussion about your admissions plan. At this point, getting to know the counselor and giving them the opportunity to know you is your main objective. You’ll be in contact with them often in the coming years.
- Make the Honor Roll
Making the honor roll in 8th grade will give you the opportunity to take honors courses in 9th and 10th grades. Success in honors courses is likely to enable you to take AP courses as a sophomore and upperclassman. The more AP classes that you successfully complete with a grade of 4 or 5 on the exam, the more likely that you’ll be accepted by the colleges that you target. You may also earn college credits at a number of schools.
- Begin Study in a Foreign Language
Most selective schools require applicants to have two to four years of a single foreign language. Freshman year is the time to commit to the language that you’ll study through high school.
- Experiment with Extracurricular Activities
Immerse yourself in several activities that appeal to your interests. Join clubs, organizations, and intramural teams as you see fit. You’ll need time to identify those activities that truly interest you and for which you may also have an aptitude.
- Use Summer to Your Advantage
Summer after freshman year is a great time to find a job. If you’re still too young, you can volunteer for a non-profit that appeals to you. A productive activity is to prepare for the PSAT exam. You may wish to begin to research into which types of colleges represent “best-fit” schools for you.