Career and College - 9th Grade
At this stage in the game, you’re laying the foundation for your high school career. This is a time to establish your academic and extracurricular credentials. You should also begin to explore options for your career or further education.
Freshman Year Timeline
Meet your school counselor
Your counselor is ready and willing to help you make sense of your college and career options. As soon as you can, set up a meeting to talk about your plans for high school and the future.
Extracurricular activities (both school- and non-school-sponsored) are an important part of high school. Make the effort to get involved with groups, clubs, or teams that interest you. These activities are fun and make you a well-rounded student.
Pick the right mix of classes
Make sure you’re enrolled in the appropriate college-prep or tech-prep classes and that you’re taking key core requirements, such as English, math, science, history, and a world language.
Make the grade
Get off to a good start with your grades because they will impact your GPA and class rank. Although college seems like a long way off right now, grades really do count toward college admission and scholarships.
Explore your interests and possible careers
Discuss your skills and interests with your school counselor and take advantage of different opportunities at your school.
Consider a college savings plan
Talk to your parents about planning for college expenses. If your family already has a savings plan, continue to add to it. If not, now is a great time to start saving for college.
Build your credentials
Keep track of academic and extracurricular awards, community service achievements, and anything else you participate in, so it’ll be easier to remember later. It’ll come in handy when you want to highlight your accomplishments—such as when you’re filling out college applications or creating a resume.
Start learning about college
Look at the college information available in your counselor’s office and school and public libraries. Use Naviance to start looking up information about different colleges. You may even want to start a list of colleges that might interest you.
Begin to get a feel for college life
Visiting relatives or friends who live on or near a college campus is a great way to get a sense of what college is like. Check out the dorms, go to the library and student center, and walk around the campus. Don’t worry yet about where you want to go—just get a feel for college in general.
Make summer count
There are plenty of ways to have fun and build your credentials during the summer, such as volunteering, getting a job, or signing up for an enrichment program
- Prepare yourself! Get familiar with the college prep curriculum if you wish to enroll in a four-year college or university. Also, outline a four-year course plan with your parent or counselor.
- Learn to study! Focus on learning and improving your study habits. (Your grades will be a permanent part of your transcripts.)
- Get organized! Use a student planner to keep track of class assignments and activities.
- Start talking! Talk to your parents, teachers, mentors and counselors about your desire to go to college.
- Get involved! Participate in activities and take electives that interest you. Student government, school newspapers, athletics, school clubs, community service, band or orchestra, dance team and youth groups are all great examples of opportunities.
- Promote yourself! Start, or continue, to build a scholarship and academic portfolio that includes items such as report cards, test scores, writing samples, activities, art work, honors and awards.
- Extend yourself! Apply to attend a summer program on a college campus.
For Parents of 9th Graders
The Parent Planning Calendar
Your child's grades appear on official transcripts starting this year, so if you haven't already started doing so, it's time to take stock. If your child has particularly strong academic interests, encourage them, but don't lose focus on strengthening areas of weakness that can't be ignored, such as English or algebra.
Your child should also start exploring career goals so that courses can be chosen that will complement those goals and serve as good prerequisites for college - this is especially true for scientific and technical fields. Sit down with your teen and the school's course listings to sketch out a comprehensive academic program of all the classes your child should take in high school. Lay out preliminary plans for extracurricular activities as well, allowing flexibility for interests they may outgrow or new ones they may acquire. As you do this, allow your child's interests to shape the list!
The initial weeks of high school can be a difficult adjustment, socially and academically. Keep an open dialogue about how classes are going. If your child is struggling, now's the time to get a handle on it.
Help your child explore
As classes progress, encourage involvement in meaningful activities in and out of school. Allow your child to feel out what they're comfortable with and how much time they can dedicate without impacting schoolwork negatively.
Help your child begin keeping an activities record that lists participation in activities as well as accomplishments, awards, and leadership positions.
Winter and Spring
Keep up regular conversations with your child about his or her academic progress. Grades should be up to par and course levels appropriate. If not, perhaps your child could use your help in establishing better study habits or creating a better study environment.
Be a motivator
Develop an improvement plan together if your child is struggling and remember that the best motivation is encouragement.
Remain open to change
One of the points of high school is for students to explore their interests. Determine if your child is enjoying what they're doing, and if any changes need to be made.
You and your child should also start thinking about worthwhile summer plans such as a job, volunteer work, or traveling. Summer is a great time to begin exploring interests that tie in with college or career goals.
Look to the future
Together, review and evaluate the comprehensive academic program and activities record started earlier in the school year, make any necessary changes, and update accordingly.
Hit the books
As summer approaches, develop a summer reading list that will help with the academic transition to 10th grade, and finalize any summer plans that were in development.