I think it’s important for families with first-year students to realize that they’re high school freshmen. They’re not going to College tomorrow. So, it’s important to let your students transition successfully into high school before you try to place them in college.
Find a Routine That Works
Now’s the time to make sure students’ basic life skills are strong. We advise freshmen to, first and foremost, get organized and get acclimated. Developing a structured routine is really important so that the kids don’t fall behind, especially if they’re taking more challenging classes. So, even before you dive into your classwork, map out a study schedule and set up a schedule so that you can have the structures in place necessary to help you enjoy your first year of high school.
Explore Your Interests through Extracurriculars and CoCorriculars
Get out and explore your interests. Join clubs, play sports, perform music, and participate in extracurriculars. There are so many different directions a person can head in high school. Freshmen are 14. They don’t know what they don’t know–which is exciting. There are whole new worlds hidden behind each club sign-up sheet, universes to discover inside a new musical instrument or within the bounds of an unfamiliar playing field. It’s a wonderful time to get out and explore existing interests or to find something new to be passionate about.
Once a student has identified an area of interest, their next move is to get focused. Many first-year high school students—because they’re only 14—don’t realize that, once you’re a freshman, everything counts. At that age, it can be hard to believe that your actions are going to matter when you’re applying for College. High school can feel so huge, it’s hard to see past it, but in truth, college is right around the corner, and your freshman year is the foundation on which you’ll build your application.
Start Figuring Out Your College Goals
When it comes to thinking about college, it’s never too early to get started. Check out colleges and universities on social media—Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Investigate whether You can sign up for virtual tours or watch videos on YouTube by professors and admissions officers. If you really want to dive in deep, check out the Fiske Guide to Colleges, which provides in-depth information about many of the country’s best schools.
Ask yourself what you’re looking for in a school. Do you want a big school where the campus feels like a whole city, or a small school where you’re more likely to stand out in the crowd? Do you want an urban setting where you feel like you’re engaging with the world’s hustle and bustle, or a rural campus with peace and quiet for reflection? Are you interested in a school that’s close to home so you can drop off your laundry on weekends, or do you want to discover an unfamiliar part of the country or even world?
Then, once you have an idea of what you’re looking for in a school—get out and do some visits. Even if the schools you’re most interested in aren’t located nearby, go out and tour one that is. Just visiting a local campus will help you get a feel for whether you’re interested in a small college, a mid-sized university, or a large public research institution.
It might feel a little bit early for a first-year high school students to get the process started. But as a parent, I know how fast that time will fly by. The better foundation you lay as a freshman, the stronger the education you can build up during highschool, the more prepared you’ll be to weather the storms and study you’ll face in college.
If you are interested in learning more about the college admissions process, or about college life in general, check out more of our blogs and resources here at HelloCollege. We believe that preparing for university shouldn’t be scary, and we are here to help guide you or your student through the process every step of the way.