High School College Prep Guide

Colleges have to look at a lot of applications when deciding who to accept the following year. Because the admissions officer doesn’t have much time to look at each application they focus on 3 key aspects of an application: Grades, Scores, and Extracurriculars. Below you can see how you can make the most of each year of high school to excel in these three areas.

Grades

Freshman Year

The transition from middle school to high school can be tough, but don’t worry this is the time where you can make mistakes. The goal of your freshman year is to develop skills and study habits for a successful sophomore year. Learn how to do work outside of homework, and learn how to ask for help if you start to struggle. However, a strong freshman year is always a good first step to getting an impressive GPA

Sophomore Year

Now that you have developed the skills you need to succeed, it is time to put those to work and start succeeding. It is always a good sign to improve from freshman to sophomore year. This shows colleges that you are able to conquer more challenging courses. This is also the time to start thinking about advanced classes. Advanced Placement (AP) courses show you are interested in getting the most out of your school and that you’re open to challenging material.

Junior Year

This is a critical year in your high school career, don’t slow down, work harder than you did sophomore year. This is the year colleges will take into account the most, as it is the most relevant to your current abilities, so you want to knock it out of the park! Take as many advanced classes as you can while still being able to keep it all together and keep your grades up! This isn’t the year to take the easiest classes or to slack off. Show that you are the incredible student you know you are.

Senior Year

Junior year completed and it is time for the senior slide right? WRONG! Show that you can end strong, and keep that GPA up. Colleges still look at senior year grades even after you have sent in your college application. Try to take a lighter course load first semester so that you have more time to work and perfect your college applications. But it is crucial to continue your high performance through your very last semester.

Scores

Freshman and Sophomore Years

Don’t worry too much about the SAT or the ACT just yet, but keep it in the back of your mind. Work of deciding which test you feel you will do the best on, only SAT, only ACT or Both. One way to decide is to see what the colleges you want to apply for are taking. make sure you don’t miss your chance to get into your dream school because you took the wrong test.

Junior Year

Sign up for the test(s) of your choice ASAP, and try to sign up for more than one test. Start studying early and often, try to see if your school offers SAT or ACT preparedness classes and take advantage of that. Once test day arrives, relax. You got this! Focus on what you studied. When you get your results back, see if you feel that you did your best and decide if want/need to take another test. Repeat this until you have a score you feel represents you as a student.

Senior Year

If you need to take one last test before sending in application make sure you do it. Once it is time to send in your application make sure you send your test score to the colleges you applied to through the SAT or ACT website. Be sure to send your scores well in advance of the deadline because some schools need a paper copy mailed to them, and that can take a few weeks sometimes.

Extracurriculars

Freshman Year

Use your freshman year to explore as many clubs as you can, don’t limit yourself to one or two clubs you enjoy, make sure you give every club a chance because you never know when something is going to ignite your passion. As the year progresses, start to find the few clubs you want to be more actively a part of, and clubs you want to go to every once in a while. Try to be active in different types of clubs. an important one is a community service and charity club like a KEY club or middle school tutoring program. Another would be an academic club like science bowl, FIRST robotics, or model United Nations/debate team. Other than that join the clubs that you enjoy going to and have a good time at, don’t commit to a club that doesn’t hold your interest.

Sophomore Year

Now that you have some experience with many of the clubs that are offered at your school, it is time to dive headfirst into the few clubs that you enjoy the most, and will look great on your resume. If there are trips offered or conferences to attend, try to make it to at least one to three per year. If there are positions in the club leadership, set yourself up to be a candidate for a leadership position in your junior and senior year.

Junior Year

This is the point where you should be one of the leaders of the club, even if you don’t have an official position, help new members in the club, and show that you are a valued member of the club’s team. Go to more trips and conferences if you can. If you have a passion that none of the clubs at your school offers and you don’t feel that you can lead the clubs you are in the next year, trying to start a new club is another great option, and with the experiences you have gained from your previous club experience it should be a snap.

Senior Year

By now you should be at or near the top of one or more of the clubs you are involved with, enjoy the last year of that club at your high school. Be sure to mention all the clubs you are a part of in your college application. Look at the schools you are applying to and see if they have the club on their campus. If you can join a club college that you have had previous experience with in high school, it can be easy to rise up the ranks and quickly get some leadership experience in college, which is a great thing to put on your resume.