College Action Plan for H.S. Freshman

As a freshman, you’re probably just getting use to being in high school, but you should also begin to think about your college career.  It may seem like you’re getting ahead of yourself, but today’s academic environment is very competitive, so it’s a good idea to get a head start.

The focus of your freshman year will be laying the groundwork for what’s to come.  See below for 9 steps that you can take right now to start preparing for college during your freshman year.

1.  Plan Your High School Curriculum

Take Challenging Course – College admissions committees like to see that you are up for a challenge; this gives them more comfort that you can handle college-level courses.  If honors or AP (advanced placement) classes are an option for you, take them!

College Curriculum Requirements – Most colleges have strict curriculum requirements for applicants, so you will need to plan ahead in order to meet these requirements.  Most colleges typically require the following classes:

English*: Consists of courses like Composition, Creative Writing, American Literature, and English Literature.  You will need 4 years of English courses.

History*: Consist of courses like U.S. History, World History, and Geography.  You will need to take 2 years of History courses.

Government and Economics*: Consists of courses like U.S. Government, Civics, and Economics.  You will need 1-2 years of Government courses.

Math*: Consists of courses like Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Calculus.  You will need 3-4 years of Math courses.

Science*: Consists of courses like Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.  You will need 2-3 years of Science courses.

Foreign Language*: Consists of courses like Spanish, French, and German.  You will need 2-3 years of Language courses.

Electives*: Consists of courses like Art, Psychology and Music.  You will need 1-3 years of Elective courses.

*Note: Each college has its own admissions requirements, so be sure to talk to your counselor about individual college requirements.  This will ensure that you are enrolled in the proper courses throughout your high school career.

2.  Maintain A High GPA (3.0 or above)

College Admissions – Although GPA requirements may vary by institution, it is safe to say that if your GPA is below a 3.0, then you may have trouble getting into the college that you want.

Scholarships – Most merit-based scholarships look at your GPA and many scholarships require applicants to have a minimum GPA of a 3.0

3.  Develop Good Study Habits & Time Management Skills

Get Organized – Use some kind of planner or assignment notebook to keep track of everything, especially assignments, projects, tests, and papers.

Use Your Time Wisely – Take advantage of study hall time — use it to actually study!  Or if you have an hour or so before football practice or cheerleading begins, use that time to do some reading or to complete a quick homework assignment

4.  Join Clubs or Extracurricular Activities

Why Is This Important? – Joining a club or student organization is a great way to not only become a well-rounded student, but to also meet people you wouldn’t normally get the chance to talk to.

Other Options – Can’t find a club or school organization that interests you? Try to seek out other external organizations or volunteer opportunities that peak your interest.

5.  Meet with your School Counselor

Build A Relationship – Make an effort to let your counselor know who you are.  Make yourself stand out by sharing your interests, summer plans, and short-term goals.

Show Initiative – By visiting your school counselor during your freshman year, you will show true initiative and a real drive to obtain a quality education.

6.  Discuss College Financing With Your Parents

Do you have a college fund? Maybe your parents have been saving for your college education since you were a child or maybe they have not been so fortunate to do so.  Either way, it’s good to know this information early.

How much are your parents (or other relatives) willing to pay for college? Maybe you don’t have a college fund, but your parents are willing to pay for your college education or maybe they are relying on you to pay for it all.  Again, it’s good to know this in advance.

Are you parents willing to take on any loans? Are your parents willing to take on some debt to help you afford a quality education or are they relying on you to take out all the necessary loans.

7.  Begin Your College Research

What Are My Choices? – It’s never too early to start thinking about what college you might want to attend.  The problem for many students is that they don’t know where to begin. has an excellent college search tool that allows you to search for colleges based on whatever criteria you set (i.e. size, location, price, etc).

Ask Others – It never helps to get a second (or third, or fourth) opinion.  Ask around to see what colleges your parents, other relatives, counselors or friends attended and then ask them if they would recommend this college for you.

8.  Learn to Type

Keep Up With Your Classmates – Being able to type fast and accurately helps you keep up to speed with your classmates and better prepares you for college.

Efficiency – Most of the things we do on a computer involve typing to some degree.  The quicker you are able to type, the quicker you are able to get things done.  The quicker you get stuff done, the more productive you can be.

9.  Volunteer during Summer Break

Why Is This Important? – Doing volunteer work on your own time shows dedication, commitment, and empathy for others.  Plus, college admissions committees love to admit students who care about their community, can balance their schedules, and work well with others.

Where Can I Volunteer? – Many high schools will post volunteer opportunities on campus, so keep your eyes open for information posted on bulletin boards or in the counseling office.  If not, you can find volunteer opportunities in your area by visiting the following websites:

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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