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Academic Prep: Mapping Your High School Student Freshman through Senior Year Educational Success

The transition to adulthood, college, and the workforce can be a daunting experience for high school students, which is why educational preparation programs can help make that adjustment easier. The combination of traditional high school classes, paired with educational programs, provides a strong base for teenagers as they plan for their future educational careers.

Let's be honest! Today's college admissions process and job market is competitive. High schoolers should start preparing to gain skills as early as their freshman year in high school. In fact, some experts recommend starting as early as sixth grade [1].

Research shows that high quality afterschool programs can lead to increased Attendance, Behavior and improved Coursework. This means that students participating in a high quality afterschool program went to school more, behaved better, received better grades and did better on tests. These ABCs are critical factors to student engagement and achievement. [2] As well as expanding learning and afterschool project funding to summer learning.

Here are some of the things that students should think about during their high school years to ensure that they're on a path towards success.

Freshman Year

When students start their freshman year, they begin with a clean academic slate. Their course selection is very important, as are their grades. If advanced placement, or honors classes are offered, try to take them instead of the regular class versions. Highly selective colleges want to see that students have engaged in a rigorous curriculum while in high school. They believe if you succeed in those, you’ll succeed in college.

Sophomore Year

Students should begin thinking about their career aspirations and thepathe it will take to get there. It's not too early to begin exploring options from visiting college campuses, professional credentialing, and trade schools. This may help students understand which options are a better fit for them in achieving their goal. Begin to actively participate in extracurricular activities, identify volunteer opportunities, and continue taking advanced placement classes. Start to take practice tests for the PSAT, ACT and SAT. This will give high schoolers an idea of the testing formats and content while also providing them with an idea of the areas in which they might need improvement.

Junior Year

During junior year and senior year, students should continue building on what they’ve already accomplished in their freshman and sophomore years. Continue to take advanced placement courses and take part in extracurricular activities. Identify areas of interest in professions and begin to pursue internships in those fields.

Extracurriculars are very important and are often underestimated. CollegeVine data reveals that extracurricular typically accounts for about 25% of an application’s weight at top 100 colleges. This is second only to academics (30%) and places them on equal footing with essays. This means that it’s not unusual for extracurriculars to tip the scale if a candidate is academically borderline. They can also be a determining factor in deciding between two academically similar candidates [3].

Exposure helps students gain a better understanding of their possible career choices and educational journey. Giving insight into whether it is something that they truly want to pursue. During their Junior year of high school, students should remain focused on studying for the ACT, SAT, and credentialing tests.

Senior Year

After achieving exemplary grades, outstanding test scores and an impressive resume of extracurricular and volunteer activities, seniors should consider applying to the colleges of their choice during the early decision process. Doing this will make their chances of being accepted higher. A students' senior year is the final stretch of their high school journey. It's the culmination of all of their hard work, so it's not the time to slack off. Continue to excel in advanced placement classes, while building an above-average academic resume. If test scores and grades are a concern, continue taking practice tests and apply to programs during the regular application period.

Getting accepted to college or obtaining credentials is a process that should not be taken lightly. Beginning your educational preparation process during Freshman year gives students a head start, allowing them to create their ideal college experience.


[2]Expanding Learning Opportunities Through Afterschool Programs, National Conference of State Legislative

[3]How to Improve Your Extracurriculars Junior and Senior Year


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