As a high school freshman, you may be wondering what you can do to prepare for the competitive college admissions process. Even though graduation is still a few years away, there is much you can do to start crafting an exceptional admissions profile that will make you stand out.
At this stage, focus on early strategic planning. First, you and your parents should schedule a meeting with your high school guidance counselor. In this meeting, you should discuss your favorite subjects, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Also, find out what after-school programs, classes, tutoring sessions, and other special opportunities are available at your high school. Knowing your options will allow you and your parents to make informed decisions and develop a long-term, strategic plan for your academics.
One of the main reasons you should meet with your counselor is to get on the right track for pursuing a competitive course of study. You and your parents should familiarize yourselves with high school graduation and college admissions requirements. Take time to review which courses you must take over the next four years, and consider mapping them out.
The courses you take in your freshman year will largely determine your entire academic track during high school, particularly for math, science, and language courses. Generally, you should choose the most rigorous classes offered, including as many advanced or honors courses as possible. Early on in high school, you may not be sure what subject you really enjoy and want to focus on. Therefore, you should concentrate on taking prerequisites for other classes and being academically strong across the board.
While selecting courses for your freshman year, however, include a fun elective that matches your interests. Doing so will provide you with a bit of a reprieve during the school day and a little less homework at night and over the weekends.
To avoid falling behind in your academics, create a study schedule and stick to it. If you haven’t already developed solid study habits, freshman year is the time to do so—good study habits are essential to success at both high school and college.
Keep in mind that you are already crafting your unique admissions narrative. For instance, if you struggle with a particular subject, have a learning disability, or face some other challenge that affects your grades, these circumstances—and how you work to overcome them—will contribute to your narrative.
During your freshman year, continue to explore a variety of subjects and activities to discover your interests, passions, and natural abilities. Don’t take on activities just to fill empty time or pad your résumé. Instead, pursue what interests you.
After considering all the available extracurriculars, choose the ones that seem most enjoyable. Top colleges tend to view consistency and long-term commitment favorably, so you should try to find a few activities that you can be deeply involved in for three or, better yet, four years. The more activities you pursue during all of high school, the better.
Freshman year is also the time for you to start keeping track of the extracurricular activities you are involved in, as well as any accomplishments, awards, or other recognition.
The winter break of your freshman year is a great time for you to start planning your summer activities. You should try to find a short summer program (preferably two to four weeks long) at a college or summer school. The summer after freshman year is a great time for you to pursue a subject that interests you.
Still, your summer shouldn’t only consist of academics: take time to relax, enjoy your family and friends, and read.
In fact, reading regularly is an effective Ivy League admission strategy. Read novels, magazines, blogs, news, scientific journals, historical accounts, or cultural documents—pretty much anything and everything. By reading a wide array of styles, genres, and authors, you will gain new insights and perspectives, an expanded vocabulary, and better reading comprehension. These skills will help you achieve strong ACT and SAT Reading scores.
Your freshman year is a valuable opportunity to find out what interests you and plan your course of study for the rest of high school. Book an initial consultation to learn how Ivy League Prep can guide you through every stage of the admissions process and help you gain admission to the best schools.