Starting high school is an exciting time! While change can appear daunting, remember you have made it through one of the most challenging school years by completing middle school during a pandemic. You are resilient and can handle anything that comes your way!

Here are some recommendations to help you during your first year of high school that will set you up for success.

  • Get organized. Classes are more demanding and challenging in high school. You may need to spend more time on homework and preparing for tests and exams. Now is the time to develop good study habits. Make a schedule planning out your study sessions, take clear and organized notes in class, and leave plenty of time for review before exams.
  • Ask for help if you need it. If you are struggling with the class material or expectations, reach out to your teachers or find a tutor for further explanation so you don’t fall behind. Your final grades in freshman year will determine what advanced courses you can enroll in for tenth grade. Most high schools have course pre-registration in February, March or April – make sure you’re performing well by then so that you can take next-level courses the following academic year. Colleges want to see that you’re continually improving and challenging yourself academically.
  • Get involved. Join extracurricular activities in and out of school; explore your interests. Don’t worry about trying too many activities. You are learning what you like and dislike this year, and once you find out what excites you, you can narrow down your interests in tenth grade. If you get involved in Grade 9 or 10 in an activity, and then stick with that activity for the next few years, you’ll have more likelihood of becoming a leader by the time you’re in Grade 11 or 12.
  • Connect. Get to know your school counselor. Most freshmen are assigned to a school counselor, and you’ll probably meet this counselor only once or twice per school year. If you’re at a large public high school, your counselor will have a high caseload of students, and it’s hard to get to know her or him. Your job is to be proactive and become a presence in the school counseling office so that you’ll receive a stronger and more genuine letter of recommendation by the time you’re a senior.

Good luck with the start of high school!

About the author
Emily Sheldrake

Emily received a BA from Middlebury College and an M.S.Ed. in higher education from University of Pennsylvania. Emily has more than six years of admissions and advising experience at several institutions, including Swarthmore College, Temple University and Penn, where she evaluated applicants for the Wharton School. Emily manages a caseload of clients as well as a team of AcceptU counselors. Emily is an IECA Associate Member.

Join an upcoming webinar
Download a resource guide