College Applications

10 Goals for Your Freshman Year of High School

It may seem that in 9th grade, big decisions are way in the future, but there are plenty of things to do in freshman year that can set you up for success down the road.

๐Ÿซ 1. Focus on school

It can be hard to focus in high school, and it's easy to get caught up in all the new opportunities. Have fun and experience new things, but remember to put effort into your schoolwork. Freshman year consists of introductory classes. This is the time to boost your GPA and set yourself up on the right path. Remember, grades from high school classes will be part of your high school GPA, which is used for college admissions.

Reach out to your counselors and upperclassman to see what is the most rigorous course load you can take! While you don't have to take every challenging course, if you think you can handle the course load, go ahead! Reach out to teachers and see if you can take classes in subjects that you are interested in. Teachers are more than excited to teach students with a passion for a certain subject. If you are interested in taking AP Classes your freshman year, check out this Fiveable article!

Remember that there is also a difference between weighted and unweighted GPA. For most schools, AP/IB courses give a higher value to an A for your GPA compared to a traditional course. For example, an A in an AP course is often worth 5.0 points versus the typical 4.0 points for an A. However, each school is different, so make sure to ask your guidance counselor for this specific information.

Freshman year is also a great time to focus on passions and take them to the next level. For instance, if you like computers, take a coding class to see it's something you truly enjoy. Whether it's music, science, or art, there are numerous options for everyone.

If you don't have many clear passions work hard to find them! Try lots of new things. Eventually, you will find that certain classes and activities interest you more than others! You have four full years to explore and grow, don't give up on any passion... you have plenty of time!

๐Ÿค” 2. Think about the future

It can be scary to think about college as a freshman, but it's time to start brainstorming. It's hard to discover your opinions sometimes, but now is the time to find what you like and dislike. While you do not need to have a complete college list, there a few things you can think about.

Do you like hot weather? Cold? Bustling crowds? If you've gone on family vacations, start remembering the places you enjoy. Do you prefer places with lots of activities, or is school enough?

More concretely, finding out more about the requirements for graduation and creating a 4-year plan for high school can prevent stress later on. Usually, this information can be found on the school district's page or through your school counselor

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธ 3. Find subject help

By this point, you may know where your strengths lie. If you struggle in social studies, math, science, or writing, there are people to help! Fiveable is an incredible resource to prepare for AP Classes. Youtube channels run by Hank Green of Crash Course are great in a pinch. Sites like Khan Academy are great resources. Upperclassmen and educators may even offer private tutoring sessions.

Go to your teacher's office hours! This is the time to get to know your teachers and build a rapport (this may be useful for college applications). This can also help you show your teachers you care and make progress in your classes.

๐Ÿง˜โ€โ™€๏ธ 4. Don't overwork yourself

It can be tempting to dive into honors courses, sports, and organizations, but be careful! It's easy to get wrapped into too many activities, so pick a few things you enjoy, and stick with them. Find a balance of school, home life, passions, and work. Use different tools such as Notion and Google Calendar for scheduling.

Freshman year is a time to explore your passions and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Everyone in your life will want something from you. Choose what is best for you. Take a deep breath, you got this! Be sure to take care of your mental health starting now.

๐Ÿ“ˆ 5. Be prepared for higher expectations

Classes are more challenging, life can be harder to balance, and extracurriculars are more stressful. Unlike middle school, there are very few adults pushing you. In high school, learning how to become independent and self-reflective is vital.

Teachers can be more relaxed when it comes to deadlines, but coursework will be much harder. Make sure to try to finish things ahead of time, those homework problems and tests are no joke!

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ผ 6. Learn how to be assertive

In high school, people will expect you to become your own advocate. Instead of staying silent when you have questions, voice your opinions. Whether it is in school or any other aspect of life, try to stand up for yourself.

Reach out to peers, teachers, administrators, counselors, and other adults! High school is truly a time to be fearless and put yourself out there when you feel compelled to. The worst that can happen is someone saying no.

๐Ÿ“Š 7. Aim for better, not perfect

It is very easy to want perfection, but that desire can become toxic. Try to be better than yourself instead of wanting to be better than someone else. Though this seems small, perfection leads to things such as imposter syndrome. Read this Fiveable article about imposter syndrome to learn more. Be confident with who you are!

If you catch yourself putting extra pressure on yourself, try to find what situations are encouraging those types of negative feelings. Eventually, this will be a habit of the past.

๐Ÿ”Ž 8. Seek out extracurricular activities

Opportunities do come knocking on the door. However, sometimes you will have to go searching for them. Contact local organizations dedicated to things you are passionate about. You can gain valuable experience in a variety of fields, expand your network, and learn along the way.

๐Ÿ“– Read - Are Unpaid Internships Worth It? and Companies that Hire High School Interns

If you think your schedule might not allow time for a certain passion, talk to an advisor and try to work things out. Most extracurriculars are a lot more flexible than you might think!

During freshman year, you should be open to different opportunities. Many schools hold club fairs for students to peruse all the different clubs available. These vary from academic to community service to sports.

With the digital age, there are also many activities available online! Whether it is online tutoring or a remote organization, there are many opportunities that are out there for you to seek. You could do a Google and Instagram search for certain organizations with a purpose you're interested in.

If there is a certain activity you do not see offered, you can also consider founding it. You will need to talk to school administration if it's in your school. However, only found a club if it truly isn't present! If the organization already exists, you should simply join that organization, show commitment, and apply for leadership positions!

โœ๏ธ 9. Write down accomplishments

As you get involved with different activities, there will be all types of victories. Write every one of them down for future reference. This will be helpful when applying to programs, college, and compiling a resume.

Use an accessible app or website. Some examples are Notion or Google Docs. This ensures easy access when you remember an extracurricular. Since freshman year can get busy, it can be easy to forget about everything you're involved in.

By the time you are a senior and writing essays, perhaps that moment you wrote about in freshman year is that memorable moment that goes in the main essay! Additionally, having such a running list speeds up the process of writing up your "Activities" section during the senior college application process.

๐Ÿ“– 10. Read, read, read

Reading may not be something you consider important, but the benefits are great. Reading comprehension helps with standardized testing and AP classes to name a few. Getting an early start on reading will make upper-level English classes easier.

Learning how to read for pleasure is something to consider. Diving into a fictional world or into a topic of interest is a great way to further passions.

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