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An Outline of How to Approach High School

Jul 08, 2009

High school is a lot of work. It will also perhaps be the most exciting four years of your life. In high school you will meet very interesting people, make many new friends, learn some important things about yourself and the world around you. It isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it is very possible. This article will outline things that you should consider to have a successful high school experience. If you are a 9th or even 10th grader, read it thoroughly to get an idea of what to expect and how to prepare.

One distinct difference between high school and middle school is that you are expected to increase your level of commitment in both academic and extracurricular endeavors. Most colleges don’t look at applicants solely based on their grades; there are several other factors that contribute to how colleges and universities accept students. Because of this, to be competitive, you need to raise your number of responsibilities. You need to do well in school and in extracurricular activities. While college seems a long way off, four years is not a long time. The process for applying for college must start in 9th grade. It is very important that you find an activity that you like or programs that you can be apart of. You don’t need to rush this process, for the most part, because your first year is an adjustment period and isn’t necessarily a huge factor in the admissions process. If you’re interested in an activity like sports or music, find a group either inside or outside of your school to satisfy your interest. Not all extracurriculars are competitive or hard to join like sports or leadership activities. For example, many schools allow students to create their own clubs; being a leader of your own club for a year or more looks great and is easy to do. High schools in general usually have a lot of programs and activities for students, but if you can’t find any that interest you, look elsewhere. There are a myriad of other opportunities that should be available both within and outside your school. However, it requires research to find them. It also helps to have an interest in mind when looking for new extracurricular activities. Talk to your counselor, parent, teachers, or any other approachable individual to begin your search. Extracurricular activities are simply opportunities to do things that you enjoy; they will also allow you to grow in many ways. In addition to doing things that you enjoy, also try and find activities or programs that are outside your comfort zone. You should try activities or join programs that you wouldn’t normally participate in or think about doing. By being exposed to something new, you are not only helping yourself grow, but you are learning new skills that could possibly help you in the future. It also makes you a more attractive college applicant.

In addition to keeping yourself occupied during the school year, you should also use your summers wisely. There are many students who end up having to make up classes because they got Ds or Fs during the school year. Make sure that you do well during the school year to ensure that you can use your summer to improve yourself or get ahead. The summer should be used for enrichment. You should either participate in new extracurricular activities or take classes ahead of time. Something that a lot of high school students do is take classes at a junior college to satisfy requirements in their own high school and for college.

Along with doing well in school and in your extracurricular activities, you have to consider the rigor or intensity of your activities. Colleges don’t mind if you take challenging classes or participate in challenging activities and struggle, because it shows much more character than simply excelling in regular classes or easy activities. In high school students are allowed to take more challenging versions of certain classes. Advance Placement classes (AP) are classes that boost your GPA significantly and typically move at a faster pace. The year is spent not only studying the course material but also preparing for an exam administered by the College Board. The exam, which is in many cases optional (depending on your school and teacher), covers most of the material taught in your class. If you do well on this exam, you can actually get college credit and skip some classes when you get to college (depending on the university or college you attend). Doing well in an AP class as well as on an AP exam makes you a more competitive college applicant. In addition to Advance Placement classes, schools offer honors courses. These are simply classes that are somewhat more rigorous than regular classes; no College Board exam is involved. While it isn’t necessary to take these harder classes in your first year, you should have taken several by the end of your 11th or 12th grade year. If your school doesn’t offer many AP courses, don’t fret, colleges are sent a high school’s profile when students begin applying so they are aware of the classes your school offers and the grade level they are available to you. Generally, your course load and performance are compared relative to what your school offers and relative to the performance of other students in your school or similar schools. Talk to your counselor, an approachable teacher, a friendly upperclassman, or someone else you trust to give you advice on choosing what AP or honor courses.

Planning your courses wisely and participating in challenging and engaging activities outside of school should help you prepare for the admissions process but be aware that each school you apply to has different requirements for admission. Also be aware that to graduate from your high school school, you have to take certain classes. Consider some universities you might be interested in and talk to your counselor about what classes you should take to graduate. Generally many colleges tend to follow the A-G requirements, which can be found online. You should be safe if you follow these requirements. However when you finally narrow down your college choices, be aware of other entrance requirements.

Most colleges require you take entrance exams such as the SAT, SAT IIs, or the ACT. However, some schools might not require these exams. For students applying in the fall of 2011 and beyond, the University of California school system (UCs) will no longer require these exams for admissions; some other colleges might follow suit. Generally, the SAT and ACT are interchangeable for most schools. The SAT IIs or subject tests assess your knowledge in specific classes. As a 9th or even 10th grader; you needn’t worry about these tests, simply focus on your course work. If you feel up to it, you can start preparing for these exams or even take a few subject tests in classes you’ve recently completed. However, the bulk of testing should be handled in your junior year.

High school requires you to be accountable for yourself. Remember, you are responsible for tracking your own progress in completing all necessary requirements. You also have to gauge how much work you can handle without overloading yourself. However there will definitely be time for fun. You might make some great friends in high school, and in order to insure that you do, you must be yourself. At a school of any size you will always find your niche, but only if you are true to yourself and genuine. Ultimately, these four years are what you make of them; try you best to make them great!

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