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Articles / Applying to College / Setting the Stage During Your First Year of High School

Setting the Stage During Your First Year of High School

Rob Franek
Written by Rob Franek | Dec. 12, 2019
Setting the Stage During Your First Year of High School


Each year of high school provides an opportunity to help you prepare for college. You may not be able to take advantage of all of those options in your first year, but you can always set yourself up for future success. From working on your time management skills to bulking up your list of extracurricular activities, here are a few ways to hit the ground running when you first start high school.

Above All, Relax

The key to a successful first year of high school is getting acclimated. As college admissions grows more competitive, you may feel the pressure to jump straight into a heavy course load right away. But while you can certainly take tough classes now if you'd like to (I'll have more on this later), it's just not necessary — at least not to the point that it's going to cause you undue stress. The last thing you want is to start high school on a stressful note, so do what you need to get your toes wet while also maintaining a manageable transition.

Study Hard(er)

With all of that said, now is the time that you can up your study game from what you're used to in middle school or junior high. No matter what level of courses you choose for your first-year schedule, chances are good they'll bring more homework than you've seen before, including more in-depth projects that call for multiple steps of planning. This is where you can practice your time management on a more, well, manageable scale than what you'll be on during junior and senior years, and especially what you'll see when you eventually get your first college-level assignments.

Find Your Groove

Maybe you've played basketball all through your years of school until now and want to keep it up. Or maybe you're in the mood to try something new as an extracurricular. Whatever mood you're in when you reach high school can lend itself to bountiful opportunities when it comes to finding the space (and the people!) that will help you grow and find your groove. Find something you'll truly enjoy so you can continue it throughout your four years — colleges love to see that type of commitment! Plus, it'll offer you a crowd of people to rely on should you need a sounding board when it comes time to make college-related decisions later.

Up Your Game

Once you feel like you're getting the hang of things, you can start to take things to the next level. Peruse your school's course offerings to see if there are any challenging classes (of interest to you) that you can add to your schedule. If they have prerequisites, make sure you're taking the proper steps to be eligible to take them in the future. Even if you change your mind later, there's no harm in planning ahead now in order to give yourself options later.

In sum, as long as you enter your first year of high school knowing it's your chance to set the groundwork for every year to come, you'll be setting yourself up for success both in high school and in college. If you're looking to get a head start on the college search, check out our college rankings to get more information that might just help you set your sights on your dream school, or at least get you thinking in the right direction.

Written by

Rob Franek

Rob Franek

College Admissions and Test Prep Expert

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