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Focusing On The High School Timeline: 9th Grade

The transition to high school is a big one and it’s not uncommon for 9th graders to stumble academically. Focus on helping your 9th grader learn how to be a capable high-school student. Work on organizational skills, good study habits, and the life skills your student will need when he does finally leave home. If your students gets some poor grades this year, don’t worry too much. College counselors tend to overlook lower grades in 9th grade when the applicant finishes high school on a strong note.

Decent grades in challenging classes. 

In general, your high-school student should shoot for As and Bs in a curriculum that is challenging (for your student, not for someone else’s). In 9th grade, that may mean honors classes or, at some high schools, even Advanced Placement. Or for your student, it may not mean the most advanced classes. Or it may mean a combination of class levels.

The bottom line: Don’t overwhelm your student academically — and be realistic about which classes your student can do well in. As and Bs in an honors class are great; Cs and Ds are not. Your student should be capable of earning those As and Bs by working hard, but should not be constantly overwhelmed by her academic load. Your student should also have plenty of time to hang out with friends and pursue an extracurricular or two.

Think about extracurriculars.

Speaking of extracurriculars, now’s a great time to encourage your student to start trying some. By sophomore year, you’ll want your student to have committed to a couple of extra curriculars that he enjoys. The key here: allow your student to pick the extracurriculars. There is no “right” activity. Rather, colleges want to see applicants pursuing a couple of activities in which they have an authentic interest.

Understand your college costs. 

Last, but hardly least, it’s never too early to start understanding what you’ll be expected to pay toward your student’s college education (it differs from one family to the next). Not only will this allow you to go into the process a more informed consumer, but you still have time to adjust your savings plan if necessary (or start one).

Understand the admissions process. 

It’s not to early to get a handle on what today’s college admissions process looks like — and we can tell you in under five minutes (guaranteed).