I work with many students who believe freshman year of high school is too early to start thinking about college. But the reality is that it’s never too early to think or prepare for college. If you’re interested in learning more about what you can do your freshman year to prepare for college then please keep reading.

Here Are 4 Ways You Can Prepare for College in 9th Grade

Entering high school can be an overwhelming experience and thinking about college is probably the furthest thing from your mind. What if I told you there were only four key things you needed to do to prepare for your future? Four isn’t so bad, right? Here’s how easy it is to prepare for your future as a freshman in high school.

1)   Put the Right Classes on Your Schedule

If you’re college-minded during your freshman year in high school then you already know that taking advanced courses is critical. So how can you prepare yourself for that course load now?

The most important part is making sure you sign up for classes that fit with a college preparatory schedule. This means not skipping out on math, sciences, history, English, or a foreign language and taking as many honors course as you can.

You don’t have to take every single honors class available, but you do need to take them in the areas you perform best in or the ones you’re thinking about pursuing in college. Some schools do not allow students to take AP or IB classes during their freshman year, which is why I emphasize Honors classes. If your school doesn’t have that policy then take the AP or IB classes that interest you the most.

Remember: the classes you take today lay the foundation for the classes you take during your junior and senior year. College admissions committees will evaluate you based on the classes you’ve taken and will pay attention to how soon you started planning for college.

So what does a quality, competitive schedule look like for a freshman year student? A little something like this:

  •    Honors English
  •    French I
  •    Honors Chemistry
  •    Gym or PE
  •    World History
  •    Elective

Why does this schedule work? You’re hitting on the general academic areas, have a good balance of honors and regular courses, and it’s not stuffed with blow-off classes. Coupled with my next tip, it shows that you’re thinking ahead and taking college seriously.

2)   Earn Good Grades

In addition to picking the right classes for your freshman year, you need to get the right grades. Although some admissions committees will look the other way if you stumble a bit during your first year in high school, you’ll make a better impression by earning as many A’s and B’s as possible. Doing this shows how seriously you take your academics and prepares you intellectually for the advanced classes you’ll take in the next couple of the years.

But what happens if you’re struggling with a class or two? Does that mean you should give up?

No, absolutely not. Here’s what you should do instead if you find your grades aren’t where you want them to be or you’re having an issue understanding the material covered:

Talk to your teachers.

Believe it or not, your teachers aren’t there for the money. They’re in this job, because they’re passionate about passing on knowledge and want to help you succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class or set up appointments with them before or after school to ask questions. By showing them you’re interested in doing well in their class, you’re showing them that their class matters to you. They want to help you succeed. If they don’t know you want help, there’s not much they can do.

Hire a tutor for your problematic subjects.

I know tutoring isn’t everyone’s favorite subject and I know there’s a stigma attached to it. But here’s what I want you to really consider: your class rank and GPA affect which colleges you’ll be accepted into and what scholarships you can earn. Staying on top of your GPA and class rank beginning in your freshman year makes it that much easier to keep those two items as high as possible as you progress in your high school career.

I have personally trained a group of tutors that will meet with you one-on-one to coach you through the subjects that are standing between you and those amazing grades you’re after. You can check them out here and start being tutored in the privacy of your own home or on Skype.

3)   Jump Into Extra-curriculars

You didn’t think high school was going to be all work and no play, did you? Colleges and universities look for students who are invested in the world around them. And the best way to show what you’re passionate about is through your list of extra-curriculars. Many schools advocate for their students to be well-rounded when it comes to their academic profile. But there’s a rising theory that developing your own niche in high school will help you stand out when it’s time for college applications.

Whichever approach you decide to take, make sure you’re having fun! Your brain is going to need the break from all that studying. Just think about what kind of impression you want admissions committees to have of you and go from there.

4)   Get Your Parents Involved

College is a really big decision. Regardless of whether or not your parents have gone to college, it’s important for you to involve them in your decision-making process. They act as a fresh pair of eyes and can help you figure things out if you get confused or stuck.

I know college seems like it’s forever away, but in two years, you’ll be taking the SAT or the ACT. And in three years, you’ll be sending off your applications for college. Starting your preparation in your freshman year isn’t as crazy as you might think. Just remember to pick the right classes, get good grades, ask for help from a teacher or from a tutor, get involved with extra-curriculars, and involve your parents.

Curious about what else you can do during your freshman year to prepare for college? Do you disagree with anything we’ve said here? Leave a comment below and let us know.