Freshmen - Get ready

There's an old Chinese saying that goes, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." But no matter how unsure you feel taking that first step, every single one after that will be a little easier. It also helps if you have a road map to follow through your years in middle school-and here it is.

Plan out a challenging program of classes to take.

  • Colleges care about which courses you're taking in high school. Remember, you will have more options if you start planning now for college and do your best to earn good grades.
  • The courses you take in high school show colleges what kind of goals you set for yourself. Are you signing up for advanced classes, honors sections, or accelerated sequences? Are you choosing electives that really stretch your mind and help you develop new abilities? Or are you doing just enough to get by?
  • Colleges will be more impressed by respectable grades in challenging courses than by outstanding grades in easy ones.
  • Do your high school course selections match what most colleges expect you to know? For example, many colleges require two to four years of foreign language study.
  • Establish your college preparatory classes; your schedule should consist of at least 4 college preparatory classes per year, including:
    • Language Arts - 4 credits: English I, II, III and IV or AP English
    • Mathematics - 4 credits: Algebra I, geometry, and two electives
    • Science - 3 credits: to include physical science and earth/space science (at least one lab course)
    • Social Studies - 3 credits from U.S. history, economics, government, world geography and world civilization
    • Health - 1/2 credit
    • Physical Education - 1/2 credit
    • History and Appreciation of the Visual and Performing Arts - 1 credit history and appreciation of visual and performing arts or another arts course that incorporates such content
    • Foreign Language - 2 credits or demonstrated competency
    • Electives - 7 credits, 5 must be "rigorous" electives

Create a file of important documents and notes.

  • Copies of report cards.
  • Lists of awards and honors.
  • Lists of school and community activities in which you are involved, including both paid and volunteer work, and descriptions of what you do.

Start thinking about the colleges you want to attend.

  • Create list of colleges and universities in which you are interested.
  • Discuss the list with your school counselor and narrow it down to your top few.
  • Start visiting the campuses.

Find out about honors-level courses at your school.

  • Ask if AP or other honors courses are available.
  • See if you are eligible for the honors classes you want to take.

Stay active in clubs, activities, and sports you enjoy.

  • Study, study, study. Colleges look at your permanent academic record for admissions beginning with freshman-year grades.
  • Think about an after school or summer job to start saving for college.