Freshman Year Checklist to Get Ready for College

By Huntington Learning Center

High school is a brand-new experience for students, and it may take some time to adapt. One surprise for many students is the importance of getting off on the right foot and staying the course. Poor grades will haunt your teen later, as colleges look at the cumulative grade point average when considering applicants. In other words, your teen starts building that high school resume from day one of high school.

Here’s a freshman year checklist to keep you and your teen on track:

  • Talk about college. If you haven’t yet done so, freshman year is the time to start talking about the future, what it takes to get into college and what your teen might want to study. Frame up college as a given and encourage your teen to start laying the groundwork early.
  • Set goals. For some, the idea of college feels too far away. A tangible task that will help your child think about college and how to get there is setting specific, measurable goals for this year and beyond.
  • Start researching college majors. Discuss the possibilities. What subjects did your teen enjoy in middle school? What careers sound intriguing?
  • Start researching and visiting colleges. A little online research will help your teen start getting familiar with your state’s schools and any others. On breaks, visit those nearby if feasible. You can also check out the National Association for College Admission Counseling to learn about college fairs in your area. 

Here are this year’s to-dos that are your teen’s responsibility:

  • Focus on school. Freshman year is a big change. Your teen should work hard, stay organized, do all homework and reach out for help early when problems arise.
  • Visit the high school guidance counselor. Early in the year, have your teen pay a visit to the guidance counseling office. Those professionals can share information about college readiness tools used by their office (e.g. Naviance) and help your teen make a plan for high school.
  • Get involved. High school is full of opportunities! Have your teen check out clubs, sports and activities to start building that extracurricular resume and making the most of high school.
  • Become familiar with Advanced Placement (AP) classes and tests. Some high schools offer AP classes for freshmen. If this isn’t on your teen’s radar and should be, it’s a good idea to reach out to the AP coordinator to learn more.
  • Collect information about SAT Subject Tests. The guidance counselor’s office can give your teen information about SAT Subject Tests and which colleges typically recommend them.
  • Ask for help. If your teen struggles in the first month or two of high school, it’s important that he reach out to teachers for help.
  • Build up strengths. If your teen has big goals to go to a prestigious college or simply wants to advance in one or more subjects, it might be worthwhile to explore subject tutoring to help her capitalize on those strengths.
  • Explore summer learning opportunities. Your teen could use summer after freshman year to do a pre-college program or internship program for high school students. Even activities like community service are great ways to build a resume and start exploring career possibilities. 

Freshman year is pivotal. Make sure your teen starts off strong. If your teen needs SAT or ACT prep or general guidance on how to be successful in high school, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN. We’ll share more about our tutoring and exam prep programs and how you can support your child best.


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