How 9th & 10th Graders Can Prepare for College

Two-thirds of your child’s college application is based on what happens in 9th and 10th grade.

Let that sink in for a moment.

So, if your student is planning to do early applications—which you should definitely encourage—preparing for college during the freshman and sophomore years of high school is extremely important.

Here are 5 steps you can take to help your 9th or 10th grader get ready for college. 

Step 1: Research summer programs, research opportunities, and jobs that will help you stay competitive. (if it is related to your potential major – that’s a bonus, but not a requirement). I’ve created a comprehensive List of Virtual Extracurricular Opportunities.

Step 2: Get involved. Identify areas of interest you want to explore. Then choose varied activities within that interest. Colleges want to know that you have serious interests, you’ve acted on them, you’ve explored them deeply, and you’ve established and maintained commitments. 

Step 3: Keep up your GPA. This goes without saying. 

Step 4: Virtual college visits. It’s better to accumulate experiences of schools over time versus trying to fit in college visits over the course of one year, one summer, or one semester. It can also make college more ‘real’ for you and give you the extra motivation you might need to stay on top of your schoolwork. 

Here are tips for scheduling a visit: 

  • Do online research. Depending on the university, registering for a campus tour could be as easy as choosing a date and filling out a reservation form online. Look for the “Admissions” page and search for campus tours or an open house (usually scheduled in the fall).
  • Give the admissions department a call. Students who call the admissions department to ask about how to prepare for a campus tour will be welcomed by a friendly admissions counselor, receive info about where to park or which campus guides are funniest, and hear about unadvertised activities that might be available on campus for high schoolers.
  • Ask about visiting a class. Sometimes visiting an actual college class is reserved for high school seniors, but many universities allow younger students to sit in too. If you can’t listen to a class yet, you should ask about special events hosted by different departments to showcase certain majors or courses of study.
  • Sign up to receive promotional material. This is how colleges track demonstrated interest: They track your opens and clicks. Admissions departments will send your student both email and snail mail with information about their university, upcoming events, and how and when to apply. 
  • Don’t forget Virtual Tours. Check out this master spreadsheet of virtual college admissions events. Kelly Fraser at Green Apple College compiled this great spreadsheet that lists the virtual college admissions events and opportunities being hosted by hundreds of colleges. It’ll save you having to dig through each college’s website.

Step 5: Work with a coach who specializes in extracurricular exploration and development. A coach can help you discover extracurricular opportunities and give you insight into how to diversify your extracurricular portfolio. 

If you’re interested in working with me as a coach, I offer an Extracurricular Coaching package. I focus on: 

Kate’s Extracurricular Coaching Services

  • Create a list of your talents, interests, and skills using personality and skill assessments I assign, 
  • Identify potential areas of study based on your natural interests and talents, 
  • Discover uncommon extracurriculars that will stand out on your college application, 
  • implement strategies and action steps for summer programs and opportunities to expand your resume, and
  • Application and essay coaching for summer programs and opportunities. 
  • Includes 4 1-hour sessions

View the the Extracurricular Coaching services or schedule a consultation if you have questions.

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