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Tips for a Successful Spring Term
The Spring Term of any academic year in high school is like the home stretch. You’re in the latter half of most of your classes (unless you’re taking classes that only last one semester), you have a well-deserved summer vacation coming up, and you get to set yourself up for either the upcoming academic year or a successful high school graduation.
There are a lot of things that happen in the Spring Term that don’t happen in the Fall and some new challenges that come with it. The spring term of each high school academic year brings new tasks that need to be accomplished in order to graduate and in order to make sure you’re on track for college. In this post, we’ll break down the things you need to do for a successful spring term based on the type of task and the grade that you’re in.
As a freshman, you still have a long way to go in terms of finishing high school, but the fun is just beginning. Hopefully, you’ve got the groove of high school down by now and you’re settling down in your classes and extracurriculars. Your spring term is all about looking forward and preparing yourself for the future. Here are some things you should be sure to accomplish during this semester:
Academics: Make sure you’re really understanding the material and keeping your grades up in all of your classes. From now on, you’re going to have the opportunity to take more advanced classes that may even get you college credit. Doing well in those classes is going to require you to have mastered the foundational knowledge you are learning now. You should also make sure you keep your grades as high as possible so that you start off high school with a high GPA. After all, classes are only going to get harder from here, and that coveted A grade is only going to become more unobtainable. Start off strong in your academics now to give yourself a good shot at a high GPA and class rank in the future.
Social: Unfortunately, you don’t have any big events like prom or graduation to look forward to, but don’t worry! Those things are coming! From a social perspective, your spring semester is about building on the friendships that you’ve already built this semester and trying to build connections with as many of your classmates as you can. Try to continue to make friends in your classes and extracurriculars–you never know when your friendships may come in handy like with homework help or a school election. You have three more years with these people! You should try to get along with as many people as possible!
Extracurriculars: You’ve probably joined some extracurriculars during your fall semester, so you should have a good idea as to what they’re like and whether you want to stick with them. This semester, eliminate those extracurriculars that you did not enjoy and consider joining some that look interesting and that you haven’t tried yet. Now is the time for you to continue exploring the opportunities at your school and see where you would be a good fit.
Thinking About Summer: Now that you’re in high school, you don’t get to lazy around during your summer vacation. You should start looking now for summer opportunities that will give you something interesting to put on your college application. A job or an internship would be great, but you may still be too young for those. Perhaps you ought to try participating in an academic program at a nearby college, taking some summer courses to get ahead or spend the summer doing volunteer work. If you’re unsure how to start looking for these opportunities, we at CollegeVine have you covered! Check out our previous posts about Pre-College Summer Programs for High School Students and 5 Things You Can Do This Summer Instead of an Internship.
Congratulations to you! You are one semester away from being an upperclassman! You’re also probably old enough to do some really exciting things like drive and get a job. The spring semester of your sophomore year brings a lot of changes. Here are some tips for handling it all:
Academics: For many sophomores, this is the first year you’ve taken AP or IB courses. Your spring semester is going to involve a lot of AP/IB exams in order to get college credit. While those exams don’t usually start until early May, you should start gathering your study materials earlier in the semester so that you can start reviewing a month or two before the exam. You may have multiple exams to study for at once, so try and make a study plan well ahead of time so that you’ll be prepared. Sophomore year is also the time that many students take the PSAT or the PLAN test. If you haven’t taken it in the fall, you may have the option to take it soon. Start looking at those exams and when they’re offered and see if you want to take them this semester. It’s usually up to you whether you take those exams or not.
Social: A lot of things are changing for you! You’re now old enough to take driver’s ed and get your license in most states! While you certainly don’t have to do that, it’ll make things a lot easier in the future if you can drive yourself to and from school and extracurriculars. Also, you are your friends may also be having Sweet 16’s, Quinceaneras, or other celebrations of adulthood. You’re really growing up! Make sure that, amidst all the busy schoolwork, you take this time to have some fun and celebrate your maturity!
Extracurriculars: For those clubs and organizations that you have been a part of throughout high school, it’s time to start thinking seriously about procuring a leadership position for next year. As a (rising) Junior, you will have the experience to contribute meaningfully to the organization in some way, though you may not get those coveted President or Captain positions (as those are sometimes reserved for Seniors). Start looking into each of your clubs’ available leadership positions and prepare yourself for an election, interview, or other selection processes. Also, keep in mind that you can still drop and join extracurriculars if you’re not satisfied with your current extracurricular profile. Two and a half years is still plenty of time to make a difference in an activity.
Thinking About Summer: You’re probably old enough to do a lot more high-stakes summer activities like becoming employed, so this summer you should really look into that. Start applying to jobs and businesses that hire high school students, and start looking at high school internship opportunities in your community. You may not qualify for them just yet, but at least you’ll have a good idea of what is available to you. The options that were available to you last year are still probably available to you this year, so evaluate your different options and see which ones work best for you. The goal this summer is to do something professional and meaningful for your college applications. After all, you only have two more summers before you apply to college.
For juniors in high school, the spring semester is game time. You have one more semester and one more summer before you start applying to college. You really need to make it count. Here are all the things you need to be sure to do during your junior year spring semester so that you’ll be well prepared to wow colleges with your applications in the fall:
Academics: Your junior year is the most important year, academically. Colleges look especially at your junior year to see if you can handle challenging coursework and show an upward grade trend in your overall transcript. Plus, the GPA and class rank that you end this semester with is the one that you are going to use when you apply to college. You want it to be as high as possible. You’ve also got a host of standardized testing coming up. The spring semester of your junior year is when you need to start studying for and taking the SAT and ACT You also have AP/IB exams coming up, and you’re probably taking more of those exams than you did last year. All in all, you need to stay focused and really power through this semester academically. Here are some posts to help you with your standardized test studying:
Social: While this is certainly a stressful semester, it’s also a fun semester. You’re upperclassmen now! You have the perks of being an almost-adult without the stress of college decisions and your future weighing you down. Try to carve out some time to hang out with friends and celebrate your older friend’s graduation. High school will be over before you know it, so stop and smell the roses every once in a while.
Extracurriculars: By now, you’ve probably narrowed down your extracurricular profile and have already garnered some leadership positions in some of your clubs and organizations. Your task for this semester is to really try and make a difference in the organizations that you’re in. Try hosting an event or fundraiser for a club or organizing some other project. You’re probably in a position in the club where people will recognize your experience and take you seriously when you propose such things. Also, start aiming for those high-level leadership positions in the club for next year. Now’s the time to start thinking about running for President, Vice President, and those officer positions that really get to lead and make a difference in the organization.
Thinking About Summer: This is it. This summer is your last chance to do something meaningful for your college applications, so what you do this summer should be impressive and leave an impression. This is the time when you shoot for that big high school internship or do some competitive work that will impress colleges. To help you get started, see Tales From The Expert: How to Get That Ultra-Competitive Internship.
You’re almost done! Congratulations and good for you! But oh, what an emotional semester you have ahead of you. If you weren’t already accepted to a college during the ED/EA acceptance period, you’re about to hear back from colleges and make the decision about where and how you are going to spend your next four years! That’s a huge decision. This is also your last semester in high school, so you have a lot of emotional events like prom and graduation to look forward to. Here are some things you need to do to end your high school career on a high note:
Academics: Look, just because you are about to graduate and go to college does not mean that you get to slack off academically. No matter what college you go to, there’s a high chance that they are going to care about your final GPA and class rank. Some colleges will even give you a minimum GPA requirement that you have to meet by graduation. Make sure you’re not getting lazy on your academics during this last semester and that you’re finishing strong so that the college you accept will not rescind your offer of admission. You’ve been working hard for three and a half years now! What’s one more semester?
Social: This is the most exciting semester of your social life. You’re graduating! It’s a time to celebrate! This semester, you get to go to your senior prom and you get to walk across a stage and accept your high school diploma in front of your friends and family. With that comes a lot of graduation parties and other really joyous occasions. Sit back and enjoy it. You’re only going to get to do this once. Also, make sure you’re taking the time to appreciate everything about high school during your last semester. After all, you’re never going to do anything like this ever again– no more cafeterias, lockers, gym class, regimented class schedule, etc. You won’t realize how much you love it until it’s gone, so savor it while you can.
Extracurriculars: This is the time to wrap up all of your projects and efforts within the clubs and organizations that you are a part of. You’ve made a great impact on your extracurriculars for the past four years, and now it’s time to hand over the reigns to the next group of students. Use this semester to finish up any projects you were working on and to set your clubs and organizations up for success in the years to come. This includes making sure the organizations have sufficient funds, sponsorship, and good students like yourself to lead in the future.
Thinking About Summer: This is the last summer you’ll have at home, and it’s probably the last chance you’ll have to spend a summer relaxing. Enjoy this time and rest before college. You should also use your summer vacation to plan and pack for college and attend an orientation to familiarize yourself with the campus and sign up for classes. You have a whole new adventure ahead of you!
Bringing it All Together
No matter what grade you are in, you have a lot of going on during your spring semester. It is important that during this time, you maintain your health. Make sure you are eating enough healthy meals every day, sleeping for at least 7-8 hours, exercising regularly, and are taking breaks in between your work to give yourself a sanity check. Not only will this make you more efficient at completing your work, but it will put you on track for positive health outcomes in the long run.
For some more tips on how to be successful in the future and deal with the stresses that come with it, see these previous blog posts:
Lastly, if you’re looking for more personalized guidance through high school, consider the benefits of CollegeVine’s Mentorship Program, which pairs each student 1:1 with a mentor from a top college who can help you develop the skills you’ll need for becoming a successful college student.