What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Starting 9th Grade: 6 Things You Need to Do To Own Your Freshman Year

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Starting freshman year may feel exciting, if a bit overwhelming. You’ll have plenty of new opportunities—and will also face challenges. So how do you make the most of embarking on your high school journey? Here are six important steps to take to own your 9th grade year.



1. Get Involved with Extracurriculars

In order to find activities that will be meaningful to you, start by joining activities in which you’re even vaguely interested. You can always cull the list later (and you should), but it will be easier to narrow down the pool than build it up later. This will give you an opportunity to find your niche or passion, as well as discover a new interest. For instance, you might take up a new instrument and join your school’s band.


For more tips on getting involved with extracurriculars this year, check out How to Determine Which Clubs to Join: A Guide for Freshmen and A Guide to Extracurricular Activities for Grade 9.



2. Create a Study Plan

You may have heard a rumor that grades don’t matter freshman year. That’s not exactly true. While grades don’t matter as much this year, they do matter. Just like all your other grades, freshman grades will be factored into your overall GPA. Additionally, you want to develop good study habits for the rest of high school and college.


Organization is key. Make sure you’re on top of your tests and assignments by keeping track in an organizer or planner. If you have subjects that you know may be weaker for you, take some time to look through your syllabi as soon as you get them, so you can carve out studying time in advance and prepare ahead of time.


3. Meet with Your Guidance Counselor

Your guidance counselor can be a great resource for the admissions process. Don’t wait until junior year to start working with her, though. You want her to get to know you and your talents. You don’t necessarily need to show up at her office on day 1, but don’t wait too long to schedule a meeting.


Your guidance counselor can also help you with other issues during high school, such as problems with coursework, looking for extracurriculars and recommendations, and other advice. However, it’s probably on you to take the initiative to meet, so make sure you contact her. Read How to Build a Relationship with Your Guidance Counselor for more tips.



4. Meet Your Parents Halfway

You and your parents are navigating a new stage in your relationship. You’re not quite an adult, but you’re gaining independence.


Now is a good time to have a frank discussion about these changes. Talk about reassessing rules, but understand that your parents may want to establish new ones. You should also discuss ways you can earn more independence—for instance, if you prove that you’re self-disciplined by earning high grades, you might propose a reward of a later curfew—and expectations about how high school will go for both of you.



5. Start Thinking About College

You certainly don’t need to start writing out applications yet, but you can start thinking about what you might want in a college. For example, are you looking for a small liberal arts school or a big university? Do you want to be in a city or a more rural location? Figuring out these factors will help you as you build your list later on.



6. Plan for Your Summer

Colleges want to see you being productive and making the most of your summers. There are plenty of choices for things to do: programs, internships, camps, volunteering, summer jobs, and more. (For more suggestions, check out our guides to summer activities.)


Start thinking about how you’ll spend your summer now, since some opportunities will require applications, recommendations, and planning. Think about ways to pursue something about which you’re passionate. Be creative!



Making the Most of Freshman Year

Freshman year is the start of a new stage in your life. Think of it as your first step toward adulthood.


Now is the time to start thinking about the rest of your high school career. But don’t stress too much; it’s just the beginning. You don’t need to have everything figured out!


Fore tips on making the most of your 9th grade year, check out our other guides:


Make the Right Moves: Your 2018 Freshman-Year Action Plan

5 Tips for Incoming High School Freshmen

50 Clubs and Activities 9th Graders Can Join


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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.