For the College-Bound Underclassmen: Outlining Your Freshman & Sophomore Years

Dear ninth and tenth graders, these next few years in high school will be a wild ride. Everything you accomplish from now on will build onto senior year, when all your extracurriculars and academic achievements will be put on paper and sent to the colleges for review.

It’s been said before, so I’ll say it again: It’s never too early to start thinking about college.

Here are some tips and things to keep in mind as you get through your freshman and sophomore year.

As a freshman…

  • Attend a lot of interest meetings for clubs!
    • Club Rush just ended, so there’s bound to be an interest meeting during lunch everyday this month. Be aware of all the flyers hanging around the school advertising clubs for you to join. Even if you’re unsure about joining a club, attend a couple of meetings first to see what the atmosphere is like. Can you see yourself in this club in junior or senior year? Maybe even as a club officer? Of course, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be 100% committed to all the clubs you attended the interest meeting for – that’s normal. Narrow your list down to a few clubs that you believe you’ll grow to love its mission and people, and plan to keep that commitment up for the rest of your high school years.
  • Do community service!
    • Whether it’s at the local library, church, or with a club here at GGHS, look around for places to volunteer at, starting this year. You’ll have a strong extracurricular activity to put down on your college resume if you remain involved by senior year. Plus, it forces you to step beyond your comfort zone and talk to the people of Garden Grove – the things you learn about yourself and the people here may surprise you.
  • Communicate with your teachers!
    • Don’t be afraid to talk to your teachers and ask them questions. Express your interest in their class and show that you genuinely care about their role in your education. Nurture that love for learning in these freshmen courses now – a love that will hopefully continue to grow through high school.
  • Get help on your academics!
    • One of the most important skills for school (and life) is learning to ask for help. If you’re struggling in any classes, set up an appointment for tutoring with your teacher after school, or form study groups with friends who can help you clear up your confusion with whatever subject it is that you’re struggling on. You have 4 years of high school to get through, so don’t wait until you’re drowning in junior year AP Calculus with a C.


As a sophomore…

  • Show academic growth in your grades!
    • Spoiler alert: UCs look at your grades from 10th and 11th grade to determine admissions. That means you need to take these school years seriously. Take classes that challenge you – even if you start off rough, continuing working at it and improve over time. You have many resources around you, from teachers, to prep books, to online videos, to your fellow peers. Take advantage of all the resources around you and start off 10th grade strong.
  • Communicate with your teachers – yes, even more so than last year!
    • Chances are, at least one of your teachers this year will have a profound impact on your high school journey, whether as an academic teacher or club adviser. Communicate that to your teacher – thank them. One day in senior year, you might just be visiting their classroom, asking them for a recommendation letter as you apply for colleges and scholarships. Be on good terms with them starting this year!
  • Develop leadership skills!
    • If you had the guts to apply for a leadership position in a club your freshman year and made it in, great! However, that isn’t the only way to show future colleges that you’re a leader. Start your own club. Become a TA for your church’s Faith Formation program. Teach kids how to write at the local library’s Writers’ Inc. Volunteer in class when the class is dead silent. The bottom line is to take the initiative! Don’t be afraid of stepping up when the time calls for it.
  • Get involved with the community!
    • School clubs are great, but don’t be afraid to branch out your involvement. For example, if you love the Red Cross club at our school, consider attending GIFT meetings at the Orange County Chapter and make connections with Red Cross clubs from other schools in OC. There are nonprofits out there that could also use your help – all you need to do is a little research!
  • Think about colleges…maybe?
    • There’s still a few years until you have to apply to colleges, but take some time to think about what major you might want to pursue in the future. Has there been a class here at GGHS that you’ve particularly enjoyed? Delve into it on your own time! Take quizzes online as well to find out how your personality and strengths could play into a future career. Of course, don’t set anything in stone right now. Dream big – the sky’s the limit!