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


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Why Students Need to Prepare for College in 9th Grade

We at CollegeVine have often said that it’s crucial to start preparing as early as possible for all aspects of your college application like standardized tests, extracurricular involvement, and college research. Now, why do we say that? Why is it so important for students to start preparing for college in 9th grade?


Before we answer that question, we want to note that we don’t want to stress any student or parent out when we urge them to start earlier, nor are we saying that students who start prepping later won’t achieve college admissions success. In fact, our goal is to relieve stress by giving students and parents the tools they’ll need to succeed in the college admissions process early on, so that they aren’t scrambling to get everything done last minute.


Indeed, many of the families we work with say that they wish they’d started earlier so that their student could’ve built up a more competitive college admissions profile. Here are just some of the aspects of the college admissions process that are made easier by getting a head start.


Why Students Need to Prepare for College in 9th Grade


1. It Makes It Easier To Plan Your High School Courses



Part of preparing for college is thinking about what major you might want to pursue and which colleges you might want to apply to. The earlier you know your potential major, the more time you have to take high school courses that will teach you the skills necessary for that major and make you a strong candidate.


For example, if you think that you want to pursue a Business major in 9th grade, you can easily draw up a four-year high school course plan that allows you to take classes like Calculus, Economics, and Statistics.


Of course, not all students know what they want to study in college during their freshman year, and that’s okay! You have plenty of time to figure it out. In that case, however, you’ll want to draw up a high school course plan that allows you to take as many advanced courses as you think you can handle and that you might be interested in. You want to make sure that the courses you plan to take are in a wide range of subjects so that you’ll be able to discover where your academic interests and passions lie. You can always change your plan later on if you figure out what you’ll want to study in college.


2. You’ll Be Able To Efficiently Plan Out Your Standardized Tests


In order to apply to most colleges in the United States, you need to complete the SAT or the ACT test and 2-3 SAT Subject Tests (usually only if you decide to take the SAT though). This is on top of your normal course exams and any AP/IB tests you might take. That’s a lot of testing, and it’s way too much to study for at the last minute.


If you start thinking about college during your freshman year, however, you can space out your testing so that you’re never preparing for more than two exams at a time. For instance, you can plan to take your SAT Subject Tests after you’ve taken the corresponding AP courses, and you can plan out when you’ll have the time to study for the SAT or ACT. This way, once it comes time to apply to college, you can focus on the application and not on taking all of these tests at the last minute.

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3. You Can Start To Build a Strong Extracurricular Profile


Extracurriculars are nearly as important as grades and test scores in college admissions. They’re what give shape and personality to each student’s application, as they express their passions. As a freshman, you should recognize that colleges want to see quality leadership and deep extracurricular involvement on your application.


To achieve those goals, freshmen can start by joining multiple clubs in a wide variety of interests so that you can get a feel for which clubs you might be interested in. Once you’ve narrowed down which activities you enjoy the most, you’ll have plenty of time left in high school to really make a substantial impact on the organization and try to obtain leadership positions.


Simply put, by exploring a lot of different interests during your freshman year, you optimize your chances of making a difference in the things you really enjoy.


4. You’ll Open Up Numerous Financial Aid Resources


It’s a common misconception that scholarships and other financial aid opportunities are only available for students who are going to college within a year or two. Indeed, if you start looking early enough, you’ll find scholarships and grants that are solely reserved for underclassmen or younger high school students. These types of scholarships and grants are usually less competitive because fewer students are looking for them.


Thus, if you start thinking about college as a freshman, you’ll have plenty of time to earn some valuable money to help pay for your college education.


Final Thoughts


While you’re preparing for college throughout your high school career, it’s important that there be an open dialogue between you and your parents. Your parents are not only there to support you, but they are a valuable resource for getting advice on what paths you should pursue and where your interests lie. After all, your parents probably know you best, and they are always looking out for your best interests.


We hope that this has convinced you that college preparation in 9th grade is not only a smart choice but also a stress-relieving one. If you want to get even more help while you’re an underclassman so that you can be set up for college admissions success, consider signing up for CollegeVine’s Early Advising Program. With this program, we will pair you with a mentor who attended a top school, pursued interests similar to yours, and is the most compatible with you. This mentor will work one-on-one with you to develop all aspects of your admissions profile, from your academic coursework to your standardized tests and extracurricular involvement.


Finally, if you’d like to see more helpful tips for 9th-grade students, here are some helpful blog posts:


9th Graders: How To Approach High School Successfully

Should You Worry About College As A 9th Grader?

6-Point Checklist For Parents of Incoming 9th Graders

9 Tips For Helping Your Teen Transition To High School


Want access to expert college guidance — for free? When you create your free CollegeVine account, you will find out your real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve your profile, and get your questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Sign up for your CollegeVine account today to get a boost on your college journey.

Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!