High School Freshman Essay


How Important Are Extracurriculars During My Freshman Year?

Extracurriculars during freshman year alone will not be a major player on your college applications. Instead, admissions committees are usually interested in seeing sustained involvement and increased responsibility or leadership roles in activities throughout your high school years.


As such, freshman year is the time to find the right activities for you. You should test out several different extracurriculars during your freshman year. While it’s not a great idea to change activities every few weeks, you can certainly drop out of one or two activities during the course of the year if you find that they aren’t things you’re interested in pursuing.


Take advantage of this chance to test the waters during freshman year until you find activities that inspire you or spark passion. Try to find a few extracurriculars that you really enjoy, so that you can commit to them fully and hopefully continue to participate in them throughout the rest of your high school career.


How Much Do Standardized Tests Matter During My Freshman Year?

Don’t worry, freshman year is too early to take any of the major standardized tests! Most students take the PSAT during their sophomore or junior year and their first SAT or ACT later in their junior year. Taking any of these tests during your freshman year would be ill advised, since your score is likely to reflect your academic inexperience and might even increase your test anxiety. You have plenty of time for tests later on.


One set of tests that you should begin to consider during your freshman year is the series of Advanced Placement (AP) exams. If you hope to attend a top college, you will likely take many APs during your high school career. Some tests might follow AP classes that you take formally through your school, and others may be ones that you self-study for. Some students have even self-studied for APs as early as freshman year.


Whether or not you intend to self-study for an AP exam during your freshman year, it’s still worthwhile to begin thinking about which AP exams you will take during the course of your high school career, and when you will take them. Check out the AP calendar to get an idea of when different exams are offered.


How Important Is College Planning During My Freshman Year?

It’s never too early to start thinking about college, and freshman year is a great time to start. Will you be at a disadvantage if you don’t start thinking about college during your first year of high school? Probably not. But you will have a head start if you do.


Start by learning about the college application process, and then begin to research colleges that you think you might be interested in. Take some notes about what you like and dislike about each, and keep a running list of colleges that you think might be a good fit for you.


You should also begin to think about funding college. Consider family resources that might be available to you, potential eligibility for financial aid, and ways in which you might start saving some money yourself. You can also start to look into scholarship opportunities.


The key point to keep in mind if you begin thinking about colleges this early is that your list can and should adapt with you as you grow and change during high school. The schools you set your eyes on as a freshman may no longer be the perfect fit by the time you graduate, and that’s okay. If you start planning now, you’ll have plenty of time to figure it out over the next four years.


How Important Are The Relationships I Build During Freshman Year?

Building relationships with teachers, advisers, and your guidance counselor might be the single most important thing you do during your freshman year. These are the people who will guide, shape, and mentor you during the next four years, and they will ultimately play a big role in your college admissions process.


Make an effort to reach out to these people as a freshman so that you can build on your relationship over the next four years. They may have hundreds of students who pass through their doors each year, but they will remember you if you make the effort to get to know them. Often these relationships can provide valuable advice and insight as you progress through high school.


Eventually, you will need to collect recommendations from your teachers, so learning to build positive relationships with them should begin during your freshman year. You will definitely need recommendations for college applications, and you might need them even sooner for a job or scholarship application. Make sure that your teachers know who you are beyond your seat in their classroom. For more information about building these important relationships, read our article How to Get College Recommendation Letters: Building Recommender Relationships. 


There is a tendency to write freshman year off as a period of adjustment. This is true in many ways. There is definitely more leniency during your freshman year when it comes to grades, extracurriculars, and all the other factors that will play into your college applications. However, this does not mean that freshman year doesn’t matter. In fact, students who being their planning early and have a successful freshman year will have a head start over those who take more time to settle in to their high school years.


If you’re a high school freshman who is just starting to think about your future, and you think you’d benefit from the advice of successful students who have been in your shoes, consider CollegeVines Mentorship Program, which provides access to practical advice on topics from college admissions to career aspirations, all from accomplished college students.


For more information about your freshman year, check out these valuable CollegeVine posts:

As my freshman year is coming to a close at IU, I’m struck with complete disbelief.

I can’t believe my first year in the magical land of college is over. As much of a cliché as it is, it feels like only yesterday I said goodbye to my parents, sat down on my bed and sighed.

I had no idea what I was doing.

I remember the moment they left I thought to myself, “Now what?”

I knew some people from my high school, but I was all alone on a floor of girls I didn’t know, living with a girl I didn’t know and absolutely nothing to do with myself.

Looking back, I realize that I’m probably never going to have that feeling ever again. Next year I’m living with three amazing girls I met in an on-campus apartment.

Next year I won’t be all alone, I’ll be surrounded by people and I probably will be after college and for the rest of my life and I honestly can’t believe it.

Lesson 1: Cherish every moment

Cherish every second you have on campus, especially your freshman year. The first year of college is actually a “year of firsts.”

First time living on your own, first time having a roommate other than your family, first time trying to figure out how to live without a full-sized fridge.

Some moments will really suck. You’ll be driven to tears from stress, horrible days and horrible people. The semester will feel never-ending and like things are just crumbling around you.

Some moments will be the best of your life. You’ll laugh so hard your freshman fifteen abs will ache. You’ll smile as you meet new people and find awesome friends. You’ll do a little dance in the hallway when you get an A on that really hard test.

No matter what, every moment counts and you only get so many.

Lesson 2: Work hard. You’re here for a reason.

This is the lesson that no one wants to hear, but I couldn’t have seen it unfold horribly so many times on campus.

Do not get caught up in all of the parties, friends and happenings on campus.

You are there for one reason: to get a degree. Don’t forget you are paying for those classes you are skipping.

I know it’s fun, but there has to be time to focus too. Trust me, there’s time for both.

Lesson 3: Do everything you can.

I know I was just saying that there is time for both, but college is also only four years.

Please don’t miss out any opportunities because you were too scared, lazy or shy.

Please join the intramural soccer team, the school newspaper and the rock-climbing club. Do whatever you want and whatever you find fun.

It doesn’t matter if your friends are doing it. This is the number one thing I struggled with in both high school and college.

I was just too scared to do things by myself. I improved in college, but I still have a long way to go.

Don’t miss out. Joining something you don’t anyone from is the number one way to make friends.

Though the next lesson is a cliché, it’s still incredibly important to your college experience:

Lesson 4: Have fun.

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