A Simple Guide to 9th Grade College Planning

Whether you’re a student or a parent, it is important to understand the value of a strong foundation for your college journey. Nearly every family that I have ever worked with wishes that thy had started the college process sooner and with a better plan.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the key things you can do now that to ensure you have a successful and enjoyable path to college!

1. Approach High School with an Open Mind:

Freshman year is your chance to try out extracurricular activities, clubs, and a variety of classes that will help you discover your true interests and strengths! This will enrich your college application and lead to personal growth.

2. Challenge Yourself and Take the Right Courses:

Work with your high school counselor to select challenging classes that align with your interests and any future goals. It’s important to balance core academic subjects that fulfill graduation requirements with elective courses that help you explore new fields. AP, IB and dual enrollment coursework- especially in your future major- will impress college admissions officers.

3. Develop Strong Study Habits:

Start early forming effective study techniques and time management skills. Create a study schedule, break tasks into manageable chunks, and ask for help when you need it. The most successful students I’ve ever met combine intelligence with, motivation, and they are always asking for help!

4. Build Relationships with Teachers and Counselors:

The best people to ask for help are your teachers and school counselors- they are amazing resources! Ask them what you need to do to be successful in their classes and to help you navigate challenges along the way. The best letters of recommendation that I read are from teachers and other adults who’ve seen a student struggle and still find success. Colleges want students that will seek out the resources they need to when they are challenged!

5. Engage in Extracurricular Activities and Leadership Roles:

Ninth grade is a chance to try new things! You should participate in extracurricular activities, join clubs, and engage in community service. It’s okay if you drop some of these activities over time to focus your attention on the ones you are most passionate about.

Once you determine where you want to spend your time, quality becomes more important than quantity; in time, you should focus on becoming a leader in the extracurriculars you are drawn to the most. This will show admissions officers and scholarship committees that you have developed a sense of who you are and what you want to do when you get to college.

6. Research Colleges and Visit Campuses:

Start researching colleges online and plan at least three visits to college campuses to gain firsthand experiences. I recommend visiting a combination of public and private schools with different sized enrollments. Open house style visits are a great, low-pressure way to see the dorms, eat the food, and meet the students who are thinking of calling a school home. These visits will help you understand your own preferences and help guide your future visits. Plus, it can be REALLY motivating to see all that college has to offer and picture yourself at that next point in your life!

Make sure you log your visits in the free Complete College Advising College Comparison Spreadsheet


Congratulations on taking the first steps toward a successful college journey! Remember, college planning is a marathon, so start early and stay focused. Complete College Advising is here to support you throughout your exciting college planning journey. Good luck!

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