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5 Tips for Freshman Year: It’s Time to Take Action

We are currently enrolling freshmen in our Private Counseling Program where you will work one on one with one of our premiere college admissions counselors. Work with us to craft your academic niche and learn how to go above and beyond to make sure you aren’t closing any doors on college choices.  We typically fill up by October, so call today.  

Starting high school is always a big transition, but this year feels especially daunting amidst all the uncertainty around re-opening in the midst of the global pandemic. And the shifting sands of college admissions are adding even more stress to soon to be high school students.  Standardized testing is in transition, colleges are dropping sports with no warning, incoming students are deferring their acceptances, faculty hiring is frozen, and colleges are scrambling to teach remotely and cut costs.


High schools rarely begin college counseling until a student’s junior year, but this is too late in our opinion.  We work with our students to organize early and maximize their choices, both in high school and as we craft their application strategy.

Because we only work with a limited number of private clients and fill up well before junior year, we want to share our top tips with our Top Tier Admissions community in the hopes that we can help lessen the stress for thousands of incoming high school freshmen who are patching together their education between Zoom and oddly timed in person classes.


  1.     Plan Your Four-Year Curriculum

The choices you make freshman year will have a ripple effect throughout high school, especially when it comes to rigor of course load. And, rigor matters in admissions! Think strategically about your goals for junior and senior year (for instance, AP classes or perhaps dual enrolling in college courses) and map out what prerequisites you will need to make that happen. Many schools have specific “streams” or course progressions that can be fairly inflexible. If you get off track early, it will be difficult to rebound by the time you apply to college. Not taking high level courses will impact the range of schools to which you can apply.

  1.     Design Your Standardized Testing Plan

Once you know your course line up, you can begin to identify which standardized tests you will take and when.  While colleges are score optional during the pandemic, by the time you are further along in high school that will almost certainly change.  Maximize your testing by thinking ahead.  Subject Tests, AP Tests, IB Tests, ACT or SAT: plan them all in advance.

  1.     Curate Your At-Home Classroom

If your classes are online, it may be difficult to feel as though you are fully in “school mode.” To make the mental shift to your classroom, designate a private, quiet space in your home to use as your workspace. Think about curating an intentional, professional backdrop and commit to making your classroom a “no-phone zone” to avoid distractions. Choose a study area with natural light and find comfortable seating. If possible, this should be a space other than your bedroom. Before the school day begins, switch out of your loungewear or PJs and put on professional attire to signal you are at school. Once in person school fully resumes, maintain this study space for homework if possible.

  1.     Engage in Your Community

Many of our private counseling students were featured in the national press for their initiatives during COVID to help others in unique ways.  They coupled their interests and talents with the needs of their communities and made a concrete impact.  Ask yourself what it is you can offer your immediate community. Think outside your bubble of high school and engage.  You may not be able to volunteer in person during COVID restrictions, but think outside the box and take initiative!  Pick up your pen, lend a hand, bake some cakes, fix a problem, share your talents.

  1.     Master Organization

Successful students are not all just born geniuses, rather they work hard and create a structure and are accountable for themselves. This is your chance to reinvent yourself as a scholar vs the class clown or whatever you felt your identity was in middle school. Complete tasks early and with clarity.


While these 5 tips will launch you into high school with structure and help you become a successful student, following through will also help you prepare for college admissions.

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