Your job as a freshman is to focus on academics. The GPA you earn during freshman year will be the foundation for the next three years of high school. Start planning your courses for the next few years and stay on the college track. To actually prepare for the college search, start exploring your interests. Join some extracurricular activities and research some careers. Freshman year is all about exploring who you are so you’ll have a better idea of what type of college you might want to attend and what major you might want to pursue.
I also recommend some early college visits if possible. These can be informal ones to familiarize you with the feel of a college campus. You can visit locally or visit some while on family vacations. Walk around the campus, chat with students, and get a feel for the type of environment you like. These visits will help you when you make your college list during junior year.
Former High School Counselor
It’s never too early to start thinking about college! That’s why many high schools now include curriculum during freshman year to help students begin the college search and planning process. This is also a great time to start discussing options for post-secondary education with your parents or guardians. By starting these talks early, you’ll hopefully have a better idea about how to pay for college.
Your next step is to make an appointment with your high school counselor to go over general college admission requirements and review your course selections for the next three years. At home, sign up for free online accounts that let you research and explore different colleges and careers [like CollegeXpress!]. If they have personality inventories and career interest surveys, consider taking a few of these. You can use the results to help guide your college search process.
Then spend time on college websites looking at the academic programs they offer. Take time to compare costs and admission requirements between a few different schools. Start with in-state colleges before you expand your search to schools across the country. Remember, this is an introductory activity. Use your freshman year to explore and make note of the things that excite and interest you.
Charlotte M. Klaar, PhD
Klaar College Consulting LLC
Do your best in all your classes so you don’t close doors for yourself. You may not think you want to do something as a freshman, but that may change once you're a junior. Therefore, leave all your options open by taking the most intense curriculum that you can succeed in and get high grades in all your classes. Take part in a range of school activities that are meaningful to you and do the same ones each year. Do community service consistently throughout high school. With these credentials, you'll have a good range of choices when you begin the college search in earnest.
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