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Starting high school is an exciting time. You’re entering a new school (or beginning a new phase at your current one), meeting new people, and becoming more independent. It’s important to take some time to consider your future and prepare for what’s to come. Here are steps you can take to get started.



Fall Semester

Fall semester of your 9th grade year is a time to explore. Think about possible career ideas. Make a list of your interests and talents, and consider how they fit into different career paths. Set goals and determine the steps you’ll need to take to get there, such as how you’ll earn the grades you want and stay motivated and focused.


Check in with someone you trust. Your guidance counselor or parents might be the people who can hold you accountable for your plans and schoolwork. Try to tackle problems before they arise, and make sure you take the time to celebrate your successes. You deserve it!


In terms of extracurriculars, you should be trying out new activities. This will help you get a feel for your interests and develop new ones. You don’t need to stick with the activities you don’t enjoy, but give them a chance. Now is the time to experiment and try out new things. Check out A Guide to Extracurricular Activities for Grade 9 for more tips.

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Spring Semester

Start planning out courses for next year. As a 10th grader you may be able to take more challenging courses and electives. For more advice on class selection, read How to Pick Your High School Courses Freshman and Sophomore Years.


While you certainly don’t need to create a college list at this point, you should start thinking about colleges based on your interests and career goals. Develop an idea about the kind of college you might want to attend, such as the setting (urban vs. rural) and size. For more tips, check out A Convenient College Planning Checklist for Freshmen.



Spring Break & Summer

Previously, spring break and summer vacation may have meant R&R. While you can certainly take some time to relax, admissions committees will also want to see you doing something productive with your time off. Think about what you can do to advance your goals. 50 Summer Activities for High Schoolers has plenty of suggestions.


Remember: You don’t need to have it all figured out. This is only your first year of high school, and you have plenty of time to figure out your interests and work on your college plans. Still, it’s important to have a plan for getting started on realizing your goals and envisioning your future. Creating an action plan now will save you a lot of stress later on.


For more advice on creating an action plan, check out:


CollegeVine’s Guide to 9th Grade

2018 College-Related New Year’s Resolutions

Your Ultimate Guide on How to Make a High School Action Plan

6 Ways for a High School Freshman to Get on Track in the New Year


Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Check out the CollegeVine Mentorship Program. Our mentors drive significant personal and professional development for their high school mentees.


Combining mentorship with engaging content, insider strategies, and personalized analyses, our program provides students with the tools to succeed. As students learn from successful older peers, they develop confidence, autonomy, and critical thinking skills to help maximize their chances of success in college, business, and life.

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine

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