A Checklist for Rising Freshman

I know, I know. It’s the summer and you want to enjoy your break before you begin the long high school journey. But, your journey already began as soon as you received your middle school graduation certificate. Now this is not to say that you have to stress about every little thing and dedicate hours each day during your summer to prepare for high school. In fact there are just a handful of housekeeping topics that you need to look into; it should take a maximum of an hour once you know what you’re looking for. What do I mean when I say that you need to know what you’re looking for? While it may seem premature, rising freshman should try to pin down what subjects they’re interested in studying in college. Though it is true that many high schoolers only figure that out during their sophomore year and can still get into great schools, you should try to determine that before freshman year to maximize your opportunities. I will be discussing how to figure out your major in a future article so keep checking back for that article if you’re interested.

Okay, now that you have a topic of interest, what advantages and opportunities does it give you? Well, unlike other students you can join the clubs and activities to demonstrate your passion early on which can help to secure leadership opportunities. Just make sure not to spread yourself too thin and limit yourself to at most three activities with significant time commitments. This way you can focus your time on those activities and when the time to apply to college comes, the submitted number of hours dedicated to each will help convey interest in your chosen major to the admissions board. You can find clubs that you want to join by browsing through the catalog of clubs that many high schools have. If they don’t have a club that you are interested in, feel free to start your own. In my own experience I am interested in legislative policy so I founded a club that has partnered with state congressional representatives to create bills to pass into state law. Aside from that, activities beyond clubs like competitions are also great opportunities and beginning as early as possible maximizes the chances you have to get an award and do well. For instance one vein of competition that is very popular are the Olympiads. There is one for almost every subject including chemistry, earth science, physics, and etc. Beyond the Olympiads there are many different activities that might take some more legwork to find. Luckily MIT has done some of the work for you as they recently released a link of the activities that are considered both challenging and prestigious by the admissions board. Additionally finding summer programs that you are interested in applying to is also critical as some are only available to freshmen and many will have their early application pools open in the fall. MIT has also published a list of the most reputable research programs as well. I will also expand on this in another article.

So while it may seem daunting to set yourself on the path of finding your future major it is critical to begin as early as possible so that if you discover it isn’t the right path for you it won’t be too late to pivot in sophomore year.

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