By Karla Davis
So, you have entered 9th grade. You have left middle school, and the last thing on your mind may be college. For the moment, you are most likely anxious about going into that big high school building and getting lost in the hallway jungles of high school. This is completely normal; just do not let this rush of anxiety take ahold of your entire freshman year. Remember that high school is that “exploratory” period that you have between junior-high school and college that allows you to really reflect and expand on what your interests may be. Also, keep in mind that high school is only 4 years–so don’t waste them.
In 9th grade what you should really focus on is college. Don’t be distracted by the adults surrounding you that are saying that you “have time”. We as human beings never have enough time. Before you know it, four years have passed by and you are in some vintage college classroom listening to an old man lecture about ancient algorithms.
While I’m not saying that you have all the time in the world, I am saying that you do have time to properly prepare yourself. That is, if you get strategic during your time in highschool! Now, having said this, I’ve laid out below a preliminary plan to make your college process a bit more structured.
1. Get involved
It is understandable that the transition into high school can be a challenging adjustment for many students. But do not let this perhaps uncomfortable adjustment deter you from exploring your new high school. Look around and observe your surroundings. Look at the people around you and get to know the different clubs and sports offered at your school.
MCSM offers an array of sports ranging from basketball to bowling; as well as an assortment of clubs such as, the Anime Club, the Muslim Students Association (MSA Club for short), Robotics Club, Music Club, Newspaper Club, and many, many more.
Freshman year is really the year to discover what clubs/sports you like and which ones you do not. Pro tip: Although the first things that colleges look at are your test scores, how challenging your classes were, and your grades in those classes, the next big thing that they look at is your commitment. Nowadays, colleges are looking for quality than quantity.
2. Get to know your guidance counselor
This is a crucial thing to do your freshman year, and something that iI personally failed to do as a freshman at MCSM. If you don’t follow anything in this timeline, let this be the one thing that you do follow. It is so so, so, so important for you to build a connection with your guidance counselor! Not only because they can write you great letters of recommendation for any programs that you may want to attend, but because they are actually in that office for your benefit. They get paid to help you find what interests you. I remember finally building a connection with my guidance counselor in the beginning of sophomore year and wondering why I hadn’t done it earlier. Soon I got into an art program that led me me into a yearlong paid internship at a museum. Had I not gone to the guidance counselor and discussed with her my hobbies and interests, I would never have known that that program existed. As another result of building a great relationship with my guidance counselor, I got the opportunity to go on a couple of college tours with the junior group at MCSM.
So, do not wait like me to connect with your guidance counselor! Do it freshman year!
1. Look a bit deeper into your classes.
In middle school the classes can sometimes seem to all connect and blend together like a big ball of yarn. This impression is caused by the fact that you are surrounded by the same group of people all day. But in high school, your classes appear to be more divided and distinct. Because of this, you should feel encouraged to better understand your strengths and flaws. High school classes will show you that maybe you really weren’t that math wiz you once thought you were. With realizations like this, you will begin to notice yourself embracing and rejecting certain subjects. This is helpful when deciding what you want to major in or explore in college.
2. Think of the summer
Summer may seem far away, especially if you live in New York City’s crazy cool weather during most of the winter months. But in reality it is right around the corner. This is the time when summer programs start to open up. This is the perfect time to do some research and talk to your guidance counselor about potential program opportunities.
MAY & JUNE
1. Begin jotting down the little things.
This seems like an odd suggestion to most and one that many people find challenging. That is jotting down everything! Well, maybe not everything, but the little things that excite you or that you find interesting. For example, if you see a film being produced around your neighborhood, and you find that that excites you or captures your attention, write it down! Don’t wait until you get home. Jot down your feelings right in the moment. This could either be on a notepad or on your phone (anywhere where you can easily store such notes).
I wish I would’ve known to do this my freshman year of high school. I’m a junior in highschool at the moment, and am trying to discover hobbies and interests aside from writing.
What I have come to find as I look into college majors, is that some of these majors have been really eye-catching. For example, “Curatorial Studies.” Curation is the science or practice of organizing, arranging, and managing museums and art galleries. I was in a program where I got the chance to see museum curators at work. One random day, my inner voice called me to write down how I felt during the duration of the museum program. The writing was crappy and all over the place, but when I looked back at that crappy writing a few months later while doing my college search…I couldn’t believe what it revealed. I knew for sure that I loved to go to museums and all, but never suspected I loved it as much as I actually do.
You see, as time passes, we forget the little things that happen in a certain period of time. You mostly recall the big things that occur during any specific event. What i’m trying to say is that it is one thing to say that you like something, but it is another to know that you have liked something very much. You will never know how much you like or have liked something until you start to pay attention to all the details around it.
2. Look into volunteering opportunities
Summer is here. This is the best season to go out and lend a helping hand to your society. Also this is a magnificently easy way to build your college or work resume. Great websites on which to discover long and short term volunteering opportunities are volunteermatch.org and volunteennation.org.
This is something obvious that not many of us take into consideration–reading. We all know that reading is great for you yet we seldom do it; either because we do not have the time, or simply because we do not want to. I get it, it’s summer. Yippie! No school. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t read! Even if it is a short online article, or a blog, anything! Don’t waste your summer doing nothing.
Freshman year is your first year to make a good impression on colleges. Measure your time wisely and keep your eyes peeled. Good luck!