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  • Jill Madenberg

Back-to-School Tips for 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Graders

9th Graders

  • Ease into high school. Slow and steady.

  • Get to know your teachers and try to review your daily class notes from each academic subject a few minutes every day.

  • Sign up for as many clubs that interest you. Don't worry about committing to all of them. Give yourself time to figure out what you like best.

10th Graders

  • Enjoy 10th grade!

  • Review test materials & take PSAT only IF you are a strong student and hope to ace PSAT next year.

  • Engage deeper in one or two clubs or activities.

11th Graders

  • Review test materials & take PSAT if applicable. Be careful how you answer the identifying questions from the College Board.

  • Create a personalized testing plan that suits your individual calendar.

  • Visit colleges (preferably Likelies). If you can, make visiting campuses while in session a priority this year.

  • Be authentic. Think about one or two major activities where you can set yourself apart. If you are already a great student, perhaps you want to start a tutoring service. Or, if you enjoy doing community service, you could provide some free service for senior citizens regularly (like grocery shopping and delivery). If you're thinking about studying medicine/health sciences, get involved in research. If you like to take pictures, ask local stores if you can display your photos in the front of their store like a gallery, etc.

12th Graders

  • Keep your grades up and commit to 5-10 hours/week for college work.

  • Prepare for fall SATs and/or ACTs.

  • Finalize college list.

  • Work on applications & essays. Rolling Decision and Early Action applications are your priority. Not Early Decision.

  • Review transcript for accuracy.

  • If you need to make a change to your schedule, be sure to do it BEFORE any applications get sent out. If you change your math class, for example, after you sent an application, you are then required to notify the college that you changed your schedule. No need to bring attention to that!

  • Follow up with recommendation letters from teachers and counselor .

  • Meet with visiting college reps and attend college fairs.

  • Set up interviews and send standardized testing to every school on your list.

  • Work on your 150-character explanation for your activities and finalize resume too, if needed.

  • Determine if you will use Common App and/or Coalition applications. Essay and video options vary greatly. Choose what is best for you.

  • Match Naviance and Common App accounts if applicable. See this video for guidance:

  • Register for a PIN at if you’ll be applying for financial aid. Filing date for FAFSA is 10/1 Senior year.

  • Complete CSS Profile if required by colleges.

  • Clean up your Facebook page and other social networking.

  • Schedule any last/Early Decision repeat visits to campuses.​

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