High school planning is a must if you’re looking for a competitive edge when applying to college. Ask yourself, “What do the most successful high school students have in common?” They plan ahead.
Early in your high school career, you should plan out how you want the rest of high school to go. Which classes do you want take in which semesters? Do you plan to play a sport? If so, when will the seasonal demands be the heaviest? What other extracurricular activities do you plan to participate in, and how much time will they take up? By planning ahead, you offer yourself your best chance for admission to a top college.
First, know your graduation requirements. Then figure out which courses you have to take each semester in order to meet graduation requirements. You’ll typically have two or three free class periods each semester – how will you fill them? Will you take four years of a language? Are there elective AP classes you can take? Does your school offer electives that suit your intended major? Is there a dual enrollment program with a local college?
By planning ahead, you’ll have a clearer picture of how heavy of an academic load you’ll face each semester. You’ll ensure that you hit all of your graduation requirements while making the most of your elective periods.
This is only a plan – it’s not written in stone. Maybe a class becomes unavailable or your obligation get too heavy. Don’t worry. If you change your mind, you can always change your mind!
Student athletes have to be particularly careful about planning ahead because sports tend to be seasonal. For several months each year, you’ll need to dedicate huge amounts of time to practice and games or meets. This will necessarily impact things like how much time you can spend on test prep, whether you’ll have time for a big AP course load, or how many other extracurricular activities you can afford to take on.
There are always ways to plan around athletic commitments. For example, a basketball player should plan to avoid most other extracurricular activities during basketball season and hold off on test prep until after the season ends.
It can be tough to balance athletics and extracurricular activities, especially if you overload on activities – and contrary to popular belief, overloading on activities isn’t actually helpful in college admissions. Colleges prefer to see what we call “well-angled” students over “well-rounded” students. In other words, it’s better to focus on developing a particular set of skills or interests than it is to spread yourself wide and thin.
We recommend that students use 9th and 10th grade to explore extracurricular opportunities – dip your toes in as many extracurricular activities as you’d like to see what fits. By 11th grade, you should narrow your focus to just a few of the activities that you’re most passionate about, and by 12th grade, you should be seeking leadership opportunities in those activities.
High School Planning Help
High school is a balancing act – striking the right balance between good grades, rigorous courses, test prep, and extracurricular activities requires plenty of planning! With over 20 years of experience helping students getting accepted into their dream college, C2 can help with you too. Learn more about our College Roadmap service, and contact your local C2 center today!