How to Guide and Advise Your Freshman
When a student becomes a freshman, everything starts to “count.” Freshman grades are used in determining a student’s GPA, and freshman courses, grades, and credits all become part of a student’s transcript. Freshman activities, honors, and awards can also be listed on college and scholarship applications.
1. Monitor academic progress.
Sit down with your son or daughter at the beginning of each grading period and help him/her set realistic academic goals for that term. Throughout the year, make sure that you see all progress reports and report cards. Do not just assume that someone will call you if there’s a problem. Provide encouragement and support, and make sure that your son or daughter understands that freshman grades are very important.
2. Encourage involvement in a wide variety of activities.
Most college and scholarship applications ask students to list their high school activities. Many applications also ask for evidence of leadership. High school students should, therefore, be involved in a variety of activities and, whenever possible, they should take a leadership role (e.g., become an officer of a club or a squad leader in the band). Depth of involvement (e.g., being on the debate team or the soccer team for four years) is also important because it shows focus and commitment.
Encourage your son or daughter to participate in activities outside of school (e.g., church, scouting) and, if possible, to also do some volunteer work (e.g., Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross). Community service is very worthwhile, and it’s impressive on any application. Tip: During your child’s freshman year, start keeping a record of his/her “Activities and Awards.” This record should include all school and community activities, leadership positions, honors, unique educational experiences, employment, and volunteer work. Be sure to update this record at least once a year. This information will be very helpful later when your son or daughter is required to list activities and honors on college and scholarship applications.
3. Select appropriate 10th grade courses.
In the spring, review your child’s four-year high school plan, and make sure that your child selects the most appropriate courses for his/her sophomore year.
4. Help plan meaningful summer activities.
A number of colleges have excellent summer programs for high school students. Of course, many of the traditional summer activities can also be very worthwhile. Your son or daughter could, for example, join an athletic team, take a course, develop a hobby, read, and/or do volunteer work at a homeless shelter, hospital, or nursing home.
5. Start a college savings account.
If you haven’t done so, begin saving for college.