College Tips for Freshmen and Sophomores

Make the best grades possible.

Your classes will get harder each year – take advantage of 9th and 10th grade classes to help with your overall GPA. It is easier to maintain a high GPA than to pull it up.

If you make all B’s in 9th grade you will have a 3.0. If you start looking at colleges and realize they are looking for closer to a 3.5-3.75 average, you will need to make all A’s in 10th grade to pull your GPA to a 3.5 and then all A’s again in 11th grade to bring it to a 3.66. Start as high as you can! You want to keep as many doors open for colleges as possible. Keep in mind that it is likely that your college will accept you before seeing any senior grades!

Take challenging classes. You want to be successful so make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure, but colleges want to see that you are challenging yourself.

Get involved!

There is not one path to college admissions. You don’t have to sign up for a club that you are not interested in joining. However, you should be involved in something. If you are not an athlete that is fine, what is your passion? How are you exploring that passion? Are you a gamer? What about writing video game reviews? Starting a gaming club at school? Exploring summer internship or programs for designing games? Are you interested in medicine? Shadow a doctor! Is there a science club? Can you volunteer at a hospital? Get involved and explore your interests! If you don’t have any interests, sign up for some clubs and see what you like.

Consistency isn’t necessary – you don’t have to stick with a club or sport if you hate it - but if you are open to service, find a way to volunteer once a week/month and do this consistently. There are service opportunities that match every personality. If you do not want to help people directly, stock shelves at a local food pantry a few hours each month. If you play the piano, go to a retirement community and play for the residents. If you like animals, see if you can help at an animal shelter or coordinate a supply drive to benefit the shelter. Look for something that fits with your interests and personality.

Start a list of your activities, community service experiences, and awards.

Create an account with the Coalition for College Access.

This is a new application option and the list of colleges using it will grow each year. This is a wonderful place to keep your list of activities, upload writing, award certificates, or anything that you might want to have for college in your online locker.

When you are on a trip, visit area colleges.

The best way to figure out what you want, or don’t want, in a college is to visit colleges. Even if you just drive or walk around a campus, the more you see and think about what you want (Big? Small? Medium? Suburban? In a city? Country?), the easier it will be to make your college list and ultimately find your match.

Every college will have tours – you can take them as early as freshman year. If you live in a city with a college, start there! You don’t have to travel far and you can get a baseline for what you like or don’t like.

Start a pro/con list. Jotting down your likes and dislikes after visiting colleges will help you narrow your list.

When colleges review your application, they are looking at your grades, the rigor of your classes, test scores (unless the college is test optional), extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation. There are college options for all types of students!