Like priming for a championship game often takes place over many seasons, preparing for college is a journey. If students wait until later in high school to begin thinking about their next step, they miss out on the world of opportunity that is available. Beginning the journey in ninth grade, or even before, allows for greater intention, more options, and better outcomes. It’s never too early to start preparing for college, and with these simple tips, you’ll be well ahead of the game.
All Grade Levels: Whether you’re 12 or 18, there are a few universal tips that can maximize your potential. Start saving money for college as early as possible. Take on side jobs, save a portion of your birthday money, and avoid splurging on things like cars, clothes, and trips to allocate more to the college fund. Also, remember that in addition to your academic record, colleges will look at your behavior record, so avoid getting written up for anything from tardiness to interrupting class.
Middle School: There’s a common misconception that the middle school years don’t matter, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Strong performance and involvement in middle school puts students on a trajectory to high school and college success. Now is the time to focus tightly on academics while getting involved with extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities.
Grade 9: Although you may want to ease into high school, ninth grade is the prime time to challenge yourself in core subject areas like English, math, science, and history. Working up to your academic potential rather than coasting will open doors to honors and AP classes, as well as other college-prep opportunities.
Grade 10: Sophomore year should be dedicated to exploring colleges and career paths. Start by talking to your guidance counselor about your passions, and ask adults about their jobs. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life, but it’s a great time to start planning. Also, sign up for the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) to practice for the real deal.
Grade 11: This is perhaps your biggest year for college prep. Continue strengthening your academic record while looking for ways to get involved with more extracurricular activities (clubs, service opportunities, etc.). Register for and take the SAT/ACT exams, and narrow down your list to three to five colleges you are most interested in. Soon it will be time to submit test scores and apply!
Grade 12: You’ve made it, but don’t catch senioritis now. While this year does mark the end of a chapter, look at it as the beginning of a new one — the gateway to your future. If you’d like to shoot for higher SAT scores, register for the test and take it as soon as possible. Finally, apply to colleges, complete financial forms, and pray for the Lord’s wisdom regarding your next step.
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If you are looking for a strong college prep school in Charlotte, NC, we invite you to explore all Northside Christian Academy has to offer. Download our lookbook now to learn more about how we prepare students to excel in college and beyond.