What High School Freshman Can Do for College Prep

Think college is still four years away so you can worry about it later? There are actually plenty of ways to start prepping for college immediately as a high school freshman that can benefit you in the years to come.

A high school student sitting in front of a computer.

1. Work on Good Study Habits

How good are your study habits currently? Good grades and high test scores may come easy to you without studying. But, that won’t be the case when it comes to college. College classes move faster, cover more ground in a shorter amount of time, and can be harsher when it comes to scoring. Getting prepared now can help you avoid any steep learning curves when it comes to study habits and applying them to college courses.

Some study habits you should start integrating now are actually doing the required reading (so many students skim over the content or simply look up book summaries!), reviewing the content you did in class regularly, using flashcards, and going over work before a test whether you’re confident or not.

2. Take Electives That Interest You

You may not have a lot of opportunities to select electives that interest you in 9th grade, but at the end of this year, you can select your courses for sophomore year. Although you may be pigeon-holed into taking a “sophomore art class,” you may have choices available. Choose the one that interests you. Would you prefer something hands-on, something more traditional, or art history? Use this for all required courses where you have a choice.

Choosing what interests you in high school and not just picking randomly will help you give a better idea of what you’d like to do when you head to college and have to choose a major. You’ll want to take electives that interest you in college to narrow it down or broaden your horizons. Beginning now gives you a head start.

If you’re ever confused about your options, want to know more about what is available, or aren’t sure what will help you the most when it’s time to graduate and attend college, be sure to talk to your academic advisor when crafting next year’s schedule.

3. Volunteer

While you may be too young to get a job yet, you’re never too young to volunteer! Some afternoon or weekend camps for younger children ask for junior camp counselors. Your local food pantry may be looking for some extra hands. A teacher may need assistance in an after school program. Or, a tutoring program may be available where you can help others in your best subject.

There will be plenty of volunteer opportunities in your area. Ask your guidance counselor or teacher if you are stuck and don’t know where to start looking. Not only will you be giving back to your community and preparing yourself for the future, but you’ll also be getting something to add to your college application (and possibly even something for your college essay!).

4. Join School Clubs

It’s likely your high school has plenty of clubs, extracurriculars, and sports available to its students. 9th grade is the perfect time to join one – you’ll likely make friends in these for years to come. Find a club that aligns with your interests or goals, whether that’s Dungeons & Dragons, film, photography, art history, debate, diversity and inclusion, or something else.

Just like volunteer work, these extra activities look amazing on college applications and could provide some content for your college essay.

5. Create a “Getting Ready for College” Checklist

Although you don’t have to be filling out college applications anytime soon, you could at least write out the checklist of everything you need to do over the next few years. Some things to include:

  • Search for colleges
  • Talk to your parents about affording school, budgeting, and financial aid
  • Options for AP or college courses offered through your high school
  • PSAT prep. And possibly qualification into the National Merit Scholarship Program
  • SAT or ACT prep and test date
  • College applications
  • College scholarships
  • A list of majors that interest you
  • A list of careers that interest you
  • An outline of what you’re looking for in a college

A high school freshman tends to think college is four years away; there’s no reason to start worrying or thinking about it now. However, the sooner you get started, the easier it will be when it’s time to start taking the PSAT, the actual SAT or ACT, applying for schools, visiting colleges, selecting a major, and heading off to your dorm. You don’t have to think about it too seriously at the moment. But, it definitely does help to get a move on early.

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