Preparing for College in the Ninth Grade

9th graders preparing for college early

I have a critical question for high school freshmen: have you started preparing for college life yet?

For ninth graders, college can feel like a lifetime away—many freshmen will not only say they haven’t started preparing for college, but they also thought it was too early to do so!

But we all know life moves fast. Before we know it, high school freshmen become college freshmen.

When the time between ninth grade and college is utilized wisely, we see increased admission rates and a smoother transition to college life.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled five important tips to help ninth graders prepare for college.

I’ve previously shared tips for helping ninth graders get into the best college and what parents should know about getting their ninth grader ready for college.

With these tips, students will not only help themselves get admitted but also make sure they’re prepared for what life is like once they’re in college.

1. Learn a new language.

Ninth grade is an excellent time to start learning a new language.

That way, you’ll have four years of foreign language experience, which many Ivy League or Ivy-equivalent institutions expect.

Foreign language mastery is not only a way to help boost your chances of getting into the college of your choice, but for many schools, it’s a requirement.

Some other schools only expect two or three years of foreign language experience, but starting in grade nine is never a bad idea!

2. Get involved in your school community.

Involvement in your highschool community not only looks great on college applications, but it can also prepare students for college life and being involved in that community.

Find ways to immerse yourself in the school communities that interest you—there’s no need to do activities just because you think they’ll look good on your application.

Instead, you can find activities, groups, or clubs that excite you, and accomplish two goals at once—gaining experience and having fun!

3. Establish good relationships with adults.

Ninth graders should get to know their teachers, guidance counselors, and other adult leaders in their lives.

This is beneficial for two reasons.

  1. When ninth graders begin to establish these relationships early, they’ll feel more comfortable asking for recommendation letters later on in high school, and the recommendation will be well-informed.
  2. It helps students prepare for dealing with professors and other adults they’ll encounter during their college experience.

4. Read every day.

We all know that college will come with a lot of reading, as does high school.

To prevent a rude awakening when you start college, begin to read every day in ninth grade for at least half an hour if possible.

Not only will this help prepare you for all the reading you’ll do in college, but it will help you excel on the reading portions of exams.

5. Learn when to ask for help.

During the high school and college years, there are bound to be times when you could use some help with school and life.

Many students struggle not only with asking for help but knowing when to do so.

When they were younger, your child needed help with things like tying their shoes or getting dressed.

As they get older, they’ll need help with more complex issues or problems, including education guidance.

In some cases, a parent might not be the right place to get this help, which is why your child should learn to reach out for the appropriate support when they need it.

Encourage your ninth-grader to reach out for help, whether it’s with academics or other aspects of their lives.

Learning how and when to ask for help is an essential personal development skill that all students can benefit from. The sooner this skill starts to be developed, the better.

Of course, ninth graders are still kids, and their constant focus doesn’t need to be on preparing for college. But a little bit of work in ninth grade can ultimately make the rest of high school and the start of college go as well as possible!

Need a little more guidance?

For one-on-one support and other resources to help you or your child get into (or pay) for college, click here.

If you’d like to learn more about preparing for college and the college application process, you’ll want to check out these articles too:

7 Ways to Support Your Child During the College Application Process
Get In and Get Money: 5 Tips for College-Bound Juniors
The 5 Key Things Students Should Do The Summer Before Senior Year