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Top Six Tips On How to Start Planning for College In 9th Grade

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It’s never too early to start planning for college. Our guide to college planning for 9th graders provides you with an essential checklist needed to start navigating the college process early on, so you have your best shot at reaching your college goals.

1.    Create a transition plan to help you smoothly navigate your way from Middle School to High School. Make sure to set both long term and short term  academic, social and personal goals for the school year. Set up an effective study routine for yourself. Do take time out for rest and relaxation. Learn to advocate for yourself and reach out to teachers if you need help.

2.    Plan your four year academic coursework. The IECA 2020 nationwide survey on what colleges look for in high school students reports rigor of coursework and GPA as the top two factors for college admissions. Make sure to take courses that challenge you in subjects that genuinely reflect your interests. Choose electives that highlight academic interests. Balance your priorities for strong grades vs academic rigor, while keeping in mind academic commitments.

3.     Start developing an extracurricular profile by exploring a broad range of activities based on your interest and personality. Participate in a school club or organization, take part in sports, theater, music or volunteer activities. Start planning your job or volunteer work for the summer. Make sure to do something different from your classmates that helps you stand out.

4.    Start researching the different types of colleges. Look at the differences between private and public universities. Start by visiting college campuses in your area that include liberal arts colleges, universities, technical/professional schools and community colleges. Take notes on what are some of the things you like and don’t like about each of them.

5.    Keep up your grades Freshman year grades matter and are looked at by colleges while making college admission decisions. GPA is considered one of the top two factors for college admissions! Also, doing exceptionally well academically increases your chances of receiving merit aid.

6.    Start saving for college Consider investing in a 529 Educational Saving Plan. There are tax benefits to this pre-paid tuition plan and every dollar you save is a dollar less you’ll need to borrow.


Need more help with college planning? As always, feel free to reach out to me via e-mail [email protected] or call me 650-596-9583 to set up a FREE 45 min initial consultation via my contact form. I am here to support you and your family through the college admissions process.