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Parents of 9th & 10th Graders

Academic and Extra Curriculum Suggestions:

  • Get to know your school counselor. Schedule a meeting just to introduce yourself even if you don’t need any help at the time. For some schools, counselors are required to write college recommendations (in addition to teachers), so much sure he/she gets to know you over the next four years.


  • Consider where you want to be as a senior and map out a four-year curriculum to get there. Do you want to take AP classes in junior and senior year? What prerequisites do you need in 9th and 10th grade to be ready for advanced classes?


  • If you want to start something new, now is the time to try – get involved in clubs or outside activities that let you pursue your interests. Colleges want to see passion and commitment. If there is something that really excites you, explore it. Don’t wait till junior year to get started.


  • Start developing a file to keep track of your accomplishments. Write down a summary of your activities, jobs, and experiences to use in creating a resume and also for generating ideas for college essays.


  • Buckle down and work hard in classes. Grades in 9th grade count equally towards your overall GPA and in the eyes of college admissions.


  • Consider taking SAT subject tests starting in 9th grade. SAT subject tests are best taken at the end of the school year in which that subject is learned. If biology is studied in 9th grade, consider taking the biology SAT subject test in June of 9th grade. Ask your teachers how your subject curriculum compares to the SAT subject test. Sometimes schools do not cover all the same topics. If that is the case, consider studying on your own and/or asking for some tutoring to close the gap.Don’t waste your summers. You don’t have to do anything fancy, but use the time wisely. Are you entrepreneurial – start a small business, even if it’s mowing the lawn. Get a job, even at a local ice cream store to show you are reliable. Consider volunteering in an area you have interest in. Or possibly take a summer class to get ahead and prepared for more advanced classes. Review Making the Most of Your Summer.


  • Make sure there’s a solid foundation. The best test prep for college entrance exams is for your student to have a solid foundation and understanding of their course work. Good grades may not always mean they truly learned the subject matter. And not so good grades mean they need more help to really understand the subject matter. Consider hiring a tutor or push your student to ask for help from their teacher.

College Financing Suggsetions:

  • Review your college savings vs. potential costs. Review savings you have for college and compare them to the total 4-year cost of a potential college your child may be interested in. Review your family budget to see if there are opportunities to put aside more for college. Review How Much Will College Cost YOU.


  • Start understanding financial aid terms. Complete the FAFSAForecaster to get an estimate of your Expected Family Contribution.


  • Start discussing your financial situation with your child, so they have an understanding of how much you can afford. Start understanding merit aid, which students can earn based on their grades and test scores.


  • Get a copy of your credit score. If it needs improvement, start taking steps to have the best score possible by the time your child is a senior. This will help if you may need to apply for private student loans.


Academic and Extra Curriculum Suggestions:

  • Review all suggestions from the 9th grade list. They all still apply!


  • Register and take the PSAT and PLAN even if your school is not offering it. This will give your student practice and a sense of which test may be better suited for him/her.


  • Start researching schools that might interest your student. Consider attending a college fair – check out NACAC for fairs close by. Visit websites to start building a list of potential schools and review the college admissions statistics. This will give your student an idea of what types of grades and test scores are needed to get into schools he/she may be interested in.


  • Encourage your student to develop relationships with their teachers, especially in subjects they are strong in. This will help when asking for college recommendations.


  • It’s not to early too start visiting colleges. If you are close to any colleges, consider visiting to get an idea of the type of school your child might be interested in – urban/rural; big/small; public/private. Start talking about subject areas they may be interested in pursuing as a major because this will also affect the schools to include on their list of potential colleges.

College Financing Suggestions:

  • Review all suggestions from the 9th grade list. They all still apply!


  • Consider schools that are “financial safety” schools. Include schools that are “financial safety” schools on the list.


  • Know what a net price calculator is. Start looking into net price calculators for the schools on your student’s list. The College Board has a link to every schools net price calculator. College Abacus lets you enter your information and financially compare 6 schools at once.


  • Start your scholarship search. Be weary of “no essay” scholarships or ones that don’t ask for much information – they are just like sweepstakes with companies looking to gather your information. Don’t ever pay a fee to apply for a scholarship. Chances of winning a scholarship are highest when applying to locally sponsored scholarships, so start researching a creating a list. Review Confessions of a Scholarship Winner.

Parents of 9th & 10th Graders

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