College admission advice for a 9th graders

What are some helpful things that a 9th grader can do to help prepare them for college.

Don’t spend time on CC.
Get 8 hours of sleep.
Take a deep interest in things you need to learn, and take interest in many things in the school and community. Do something about the things you take interest in.
Get started early on work.
Participate in class.
Develop relationships around the school, especially with teachers. Engage with them.
Don’t think about college until 11th grade.


Don’t discount the importance of grades. Many schools count them from that year.

Take rigorous classes, but classes you enjoy.

Get involved in fun, enjoyable extracurricular activities.

Go visit your state flagship(s) that you know you’ll get in even if you get a B here or there. It helps take the pressure off knowing it’ll be there for you.

Finally, don’t overly stress about your college choice. I know 3 Fortune 500 CEOs. None of them went to a big name school.

Good luck!


Read this:

Re-read it at the start of every term of HS.

And in very practical terms

→ work on time management skills!
→ work on your writing skills- even/especially if you are a STEM person! you will not believe how much easier it makes college

  1. Look at the course progressions at your high school and pick classes that preserve options for now. It’s better to you to decide you don’t want to take a class than to be told you can’t because you don’t have the prerequisites.

  2. Focus on learning and mastery. In many high school classes, the material builds on itself, so you’ll do yourself no favors by learning just enough for the test. And if it’s a class in which you will not go further, remember that this will be the physics/Spanish/etc. that you will rely on for a lifetime.

  3. Be open to new people and experiences. Be kind to others, and be a good friend.

  4. Develop good study skills that work for you. A book like That Crumpled piece of paper was due last week has some good ideas in it, for example, but you will need to custom to fit your needs and preferences.

  5. If you can do a really brief journal each week, note form is fine, of the highs and lows - academic, social, health, etc , you may be more aware of what’s really exciting you and what is weighing you down. It’s a chance to reflect on how you’re feeling when you are likely really busy doing all the time. This can help when you are trying to pick classes going forward and maybe even serve as inspiration for your college essays. This can help focus you on who you authentically are.

  6. Don’t think about college until junior year. Enjoy high school for what it is. These 4 years are their own experience-- not an extended college application exercise. There are great colleges for every student. You’ll ultimately be looking for the college that fits you, not trying to configure yourself to what you think a college wants.


Try different things now. Don’t wait for the right time to get into theater or ultimate frisbee or choir or mock trial, because that time may never come. You’re probably not going to be invited to do this stuff either, so just watch for the posters at the start of school and get to the meetings. If you start this fall you can join an activity for a year and either invest yourself in it or move to something else you want to try, but you can’t show a deep interest in something by waiting until junior year. Joining is how you make friends, not what you do once you’ve found them.


Biggest one is: do well in your high school courses.


Focus on getting the best grades you can. Stay balanced. Enjoy being a teenager…but don’t blow anything up :innocent: Study for the SAT. Go somewhere you can afford, and major in something you enjoy that’s marketable.

read a book or two this summer on college admissions. One I like is "The Book | ADMISSION MATTERS The reason to read it now is that it’s a peek into the future. 4 years from now you’ll be a HS senior and doing the things discussed in the book(s). They’ll talk about how colleges evaluate the rigor of your courses, your extracurriculars, etc. and you’ll realize that you’re on the front side of those things and have the chance to make choices about what you do between now and then.

I agree with the people that say enjoy being a teenager, don’t worry about college admissions until 11th grade, etc. And I’m not saying “worry” about it. But the flip side is their at students out there are expensive prep schools or living in expensive areas with great public schools that are getting coaching on what they should do from 9th grade on to be a strong college candidate. It’s only fair that you at least know the kind of things you could choose to do (or not).