What should I be doing now?

What 9th graders need to do this fall

What 9th graders need to do this fall

This has an academic side—take the most rigorous classes you can, get the best grades you can, be involved in your education. But just as important at this point are the social and emotional sides. You’re easing your way into a new and exciting (and challenging) place. You’re going to have missteps, and you’re going to change your mind about things. That’s normal, and that’s fine.

What seniors need to do this fall

What seniors need to do this fall

This is a tough line to walk senior year. On one hand, you really ought to be shifting your focus to next year. You have a lot of big decisions to make, and you need to allocate time and resources to working on strong applications and making informed decisions. Your daily high school homework isn’t quite as compelling as it was a year ago. On the other hand, you also need to be preparing yourself to be a good college student, and the best way to prepare for college is to be a good high school student.

Visiting colleges over the summer

Visiting colleges over the summer

It’s summer time, and for a lot of people—especially rising seniors—that means college campus visits. Some people take time to visit colleges near them. Some incorporate campus tours into their summer family vacations. Some make campus tours the whole point of the vacation. Some…never tour a campus and do just fine. So let’s talk about visiting campuses in the summer.

What should current 10th and 9th graders do this summer?

What should current 10th and 9th graders do this summer?

What should sophomores do this summer to be better prepared for college?

Train. You're like a professional athlete during the off-season. You get a lot more flexibility with your schedule and a lot fewer people watching you as you work, but you've got to spend this time productively. Does this mean to fill up your day with summer school classes and be a constant student? No. Like pro athletes, find another way to enhance the skills you have.

What should sophomores be doing this spring?

What should sophomores be doing this spring?

Everyone’s experience is different, I get that. But there’s a really good chance that this semester is going to be your Golden Age. For one, you’re almost half way through high school and have got the hang of it. You’re not a clueless and picked-on Freshman any more. You’ve cultivated relationships with fellow students and, hopefully, a teacher or two. And also, the big jump to more rigorous courses and more college pressure usually doesn't begin in full until the 11th grade. 

What should seniors be doing this spring?

What should seniors be doing this spring?

It may seem silly to talk about being a good high school student in the spring semester of your senior year, but the fact remains that you're still in high school and there's still more to be done. And yes, I'm very aware of "senioritis." Your parents and teachers may not want me to say it, but slowing down your last semester is completely normal and fine.

What should you do over the winter break?

What should you do over the winter break?

I know that late November is a little early to start suggesting things to do over the winter break. But a) admit it: now that Thanksgiving is over, you’re already thinking about your winter break, and b) since “don’t do any more college stuff than you absolutely have to” is one of my suggestions, you may want to plan ahead a little. Read all my advice below. Do you have any other good advice I left out? Leave it in a comment, we’d all love to hear it.

What should seniors and juniors be doing right now?

What should seniors and juniors be doing right now?

This is a tough line to walk, senior year. On one hand, you really ought to be shifting your focus to next year. You have a lot of big decisions to make, and you need to allocate time and resources to working on strong applications and making informed decisions. Your daily high school homework isn’t quite as compelling as it was a year ago. On the other hand, you also need to be preparing yourself to be a good college student, and the best way to prepare for college is to be a good high school student.

"Break is over. Now What?" 9th grade edition

"Break is over. Now What?" 9th grade edition

You're half way through your first year of high school, and there's so much to deal with. There are often a lot of positive things associated with this time: establishing new friendships and networks, trying out interesting electives, learning practical skills. But there's also plenty of negative things to deal with: disappointment, feeling overwhelmed, feeling disorganized, having difficulty figuring out where you belong. Take time--not just once but at least once a week--to identify what's going well and what isn't. What are the positives to accentuate and the negatives to eliminate? Being self-aware and honest with yourself is going to help you get through this year, and if you'll stay in that habit will help you every year of high school and beyond.

"Break is over. Now what?" 10th grade edition

"Break is over. Now what?" 10th grade edition

Everyone’s experience is different, I get that. But there’s a really good chance that this semester is going to be your Golden Age. For one, you’re almost half way through high school and have got the hang of it. You’re not a clueless and picked-on Freshman any more. You’ve cultivated relationships with fellow students and, hopefully, a teacher or two. And also, the big jump to more rigorous courses and more college pressure usually doesn't begin in full until the 11th grade. 

"Break is over. Now what?" 11th grade edition

"Break is over. Now what?" 11th grade edition

The best way to prepare for college is to be a good high school student, and there may be no more important semester of high school--as far as college planning is concerned--than this semester. When admissions counselors look at you transcript next fall, this semester is the most recent and full picture they have. While they'll look at all your grades and activities, the junior year is more important. It lets them see how you perform in more rigorous classes and more leadership roles than you're likely to have in the 9th and 10th grade. 

"Break is over. Now what?" 12th grade edition

"Break is over. Now what?" 12th grade edition

It may seem silly to talk about being a good high school student in the spring semester of your senior year, but the fact remains that you're still in high school and there's still more to be done. And yes, I'm very aware of "senioritis." Your parents and teachers may not want me to say it, but slowing down your last semester is completely normal and fine. Because it's true, you're not just a regular high school student any more. On top of your normal classes and activities, you also have a lot of college decisions to make. Many seniors go on more college visits once they get their acceptances and have to make a decision. Your time in high school is just about over. There are often Prom and Senior Trip and Senior Gifts and Senior Pranks to organize. And so it's normal and fine to begin a transition and be less committed.

What should you do with your break?

What should you do with your break?

Most of this is for seniors in the midst of their college applications. But don't worry, underclassmen, there's advice for you in here, too. Most high schools give you a break for a few weeks around the holidays, and most students are good at procrastination. These combine to produce way too much to do over your break. Here's some advice for handle it.

What should 9th graders be doing right now?

What should 9th graders be doing right now?

Work at being good at high school. This has an academic side—take the most rigorous classes you can, get the best grades you can, be involved in your education. But just as important at this point are the social and emotional sides. You’re easing your way into a new and exciting (and challenging) place. You’re going to have missteps, and you’re going to change your mind about things. That’s normal, and that’s fine.

What should juniors be doing now?

What should juniors be doing now?

You probably already know this—you’re living it—but 11th grade is generally acknowledged to be the toughest year of high school. There’s a major jump in the rigor of your classes. You’re moving into leadership positions in your extra-curricular activities. You have some major high-stakes tests. People are beginning to ask you more and more about your plans after high school. You’re more likely to be working an after-school job, you’re more likely to be driving, you’re more likely to be dealing with the ups and downs of dating and relationships. You likely have growing responsibilities at home. You’re more likely to be dealing with emotional or social issues.