The transition to high school is often accompanied by big changes. Freshmen are often overwhelmed by increased schoolwork, various extracurricular activities, and bustling hallways. This transition can cause students to forget about university or college applications. Many students today procrastinate, and are unnecessarily stressed by the lack of planning. Students should realize the importance of applying to post-secondary schools and prepare early on. By planning ahead, students can get a head start on the competition.
Grade 9 – Freshman Year
This is the perfect time for students to discover and explore their interests. The best way to do this is through extracurricular activities and courses that are offered in the ninth grade. The best part about grade nine is the introduction of electives. This allows for students to get a feel of what subjects spark their interests. Although universities do not closely monitor grades obtained in grade nine, grades are a good indication of a student’s strengths and weaknesses as they show what subjects each student is passionate about. Students can use this information to help plan future high school courses and university programs.
Grade 10 – Sophomore Year
In their sophomore year, students should focus on courses and extracurricular activities that interest them. At this grade level, it is important for students to work on development of organizational skills, study habits and work ethics. The next two years will be very challenging for students, and they are expected to be up to the task. From the interests that they had in grade 9, students should try to choose courses that better suit what appeals to them. Choosing courses that are geared toward their interests will get students excited about school while helping students decide possible career paths.
Sophomore year is a great time for students to start researching any college and/ or university that has a program suited for them. The research should include programs that each college excels in, as well as any scholarships that they have to offer. It is also highly recommended that students prepare to write the PSAT, a test that will help them prepare for the SAT as well as apply for future scholarships. The PSAT can be written in either the student’s sophomore or junior year. Some even write the exam in their freshman year!
Grade 11 – Junior Year
Junior year is the turning point of a high school career. The second half of high school comes with both privileges and responsibilities. Teachers often expect students to have sufficient background knowledge and skills from previous grades. As a result, courses become more complex and specific. A good work ethic is key as the work load increases. During the 11th grade, students have the freedom to choose extracurricular activities. Clubs, teams and groups can provide students with a sense of belonging, and valuable experience. When reviewing applications, university admissions review academic success, as well as extracurriculars.
The most well-rounded students are expected to be strong additions to an institution. Before the application process, research is crucial to find the most fitting programs and universities. Many specialized program have academic prerequisites, and prepared students can ensure they have fulfilled such requirements. Other undecided students can write the PSAT, which provides an indication of weak and strong academic subjects. With the results in mind, students can more effectively prepare for upcoming SAT tests.
Grade 12 – Senior Year
Seniors will be faced with a very difficult year since they have to prepare for the SAT or ACT exams, in addition to focusing on their grades and extracurricular activities. All of this work can put significant stress on students. To help mitigate the stress, students should start preparing for college as early as possible. Both the ACT and the SAT tests are both recommended, and sometimes required for many colleges across the United States. Both of these tests can be taken for a variety of subjects that help showcase a student’s talents and help colleges determine which students to accept. As some schools can be very competitive, it is very important that students take this test as early as possible. By taking the test early on, students will allow themselves time to get assistance and take it again if necessary.
Preparing for college is a long and vigorous process, one that should not be taken lightly. The most prepared students begin research and planning as early as freshman year. It is important to get a feel for what interests you and plan on taking electives in future years. Next, it is important to begin research on possible schools to apply to. It is important to find what schools specialize in what field as well as location, tuition prices and any scholarships that they have to offer. Lastly, begin your preparation for taking the ACT or SAT early on to better prepare yourself and achieve the best score possible. If you ever get stuck and are unsure of how to proceed, talk to your school’s guidance councillor; they are there to help!
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