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9th Grade


9th grade is an exciting year of transitions – one that marks a turning point both academically and socially. You’re finally out of middle school and you’ve been granted some independence. Whether your school provides you with large-scale freedom to customize your own class schedule or smaller scale freedom to start your own club, one thing is for certain: 9th grade is a year of exploratory opportunities.

And as your opportunities increase in 9th grade, the buzz surrounding college increases as well. Before you get wrapped-up in the tangled maze of college chatter, allow us to set the record straight.


The next four years are about building a resume.

FALSE! The next four years are about building knowledge and character. In other words, they are about making good decisions that will influence the opportunities available to you down the road. 

Colleges have a checklist of required activities and accomplishments to offer admission.

FALSE! The most vibrant college campuses want to attract students with diverse interests, skills, backgrounds, and experiences. What matters to these universities is not what you do, but how committed you are – to your activities, to your part-time job, even to your family obligations.

You need to focus on your strengths and perfect them.

FALSE! You should not let your strengths limit you. That might sound strange. How can strengths be limiting? Too often, students let themselves be defined by what they're good at, preventing them from exploring a different subject or activity that they may enjoy even more. 9th grade is the year to take risks. So you’re a basketball star? Go ahead: audition for a play. You have nothing to lose – and you’ll learn something about yourself, guaranteed. 


9th grade is about meeting your counselor and exploring newfound opportunities available to you. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself or try something new. Your exploration will prepare you for college in ways you cannot imagine.



Meet your school counselor.

Don’t wait for him or her to approach you. Seek out your counselor and let him or her know that you’re interested in going to college. He or she will work with you to outline a path and educate you on the various steps to take.

Don’t have a counselor? You have more resources available to you than you probably realize. Talk to your teachers, school administrators, coaches or assistant principals – you can even contact admission officers at colleges across the country. All of these people would be happy to help you think about your future; all you have to do is ask!

Select courses that challenge you.

If you’re not feeling stimulated by your current course load, ask your counselor or teachers about honors or advanced course options– whether they’re available, whether you’re eligible, and how to enroll. 

Get involved in activities that interest you.

High school affords you more opportunities than you’ve probably ever had to explore your interests and try something you’ve never tried before. Take advantage of your free time in 9th grade to find what you enjoy doing – and then keep doing it. 

Talk to your parents about paying for college.

It’s never too early to start saving for college or evaluating how you will pay for it. There are countless resources available to make college more affordable, and 9th grade is a great time to understand what these options are. Visit our page on How To Pay For College for more information. 


Freshman Year Checklist

  • Get to know your guidance counselor
  • Focus on your academics (colleges look at your 9-12 grade gpa)
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities
  • Start a portfolio (artists & athletes)
  • Start a resume