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9th-12th College Bound Guideline

Preparing For Your Future, One Year At A Time

There is no time like the present to start thinking about your future. Certainly, 9th graders do not need to decide on a college or on a specific career, but it is never too early to explore interests and talents and to prepare for your options. Here is a year by year guideline to help you prepare:

9th Grade:

  • Take the most challenging courses that are realistic for you. Classes that challenge you prepare you better for college and help you develop higher level thinking skills. It is generally better to get B’s and C’s in the most challenging classes than to get A’s and B’s in easier classes. Of course, it’s best to strive for the highest grade in any chosen course.

  • Choose electives that help you to explore your interests. AHS offers a wide variety of electives in fine arts, technology, trade skills, business, humanities, etc. These classes can help you find out what you like and the areas in which you are talented.

  • Explore extra-curricular activities. Students involved in school life are more likely to do better in school and to develop desirable social and leadership skills. Colleges love to see that students have been involved in activities like athletic teams, academic teams, clubs, band, etc.

  • Work Hard. Nothing will benefit you more than doing well in your classes. The better you do in your classes, the more options you will have when high school is over.

  • Explore different careers. You can do this by taking a variety of classes, looking at career information and exploration sites like www.careercruising.com or www.vaview.vt.edu, shadowing adults in their jobs, talking to your school counselor, or anything else that give you insights into yourself and different career options.


10th Grade:

  • Continue to challenge yourself, choose interesting electives, and be involved in extra-curricular activities.

  • Take the PSATs in October. The PSATs will help prepare you for SATs and get a sense of some of your academic strengths and weaknesses.

  • Keep Working Hard.


11th Grade:

  • Continue to challenge yourself. Consider AP and Dual Enrollment courses. Stay involved. Work Hard.

  • Take the PSATs in October. High PSAT scores can make 11th graders eligible for scholarships.

  • Meet with your counselor at the beginning of the year to make sure that you have the credits you need and to discuss future plans.

  • Take the SAT test in March, May, or June. Most people take the SAT at least twice, once in the spring of 11th grade and once or twice in the fall of 12th grade. Consider the ACT, which is a college entrance exam like the SAT with somewhat different format. You could try both and see which one reflects your skills better.

  • Start to develop a list of colleges that interest you.

  • Plan summer visits to college campuses, if possible.


12th Grade:

  • Continue to challenge yourself. The classes you take and your senior grades do affect college admissions.

  • Avoid the “senior slump.”

  • Take the SAT and/or ACT test in October and/or November and/or December

  • In August or September, refine your list of possible colleges and look at websites to find application requirements and deadlines. (Some colleges have fall deadlines, so doing this later could limit your options)

  • Meet with your school counselor and parents/guardians to go over your list of schools.

  • If recommendations are required, ask for them well ahead of the deadlines.

  • Give yourself plenty of time to work on application.

  • In December, prepare your FAFSA form.

  • In January, submit your FAFSA form.

  • Admission decisions are usually received in early April. Financial aid decisions come with the admission decisions or shortly thereafter.