9th Grade Pitfalls
Every year, TA program directors meet with lots of high school seniors and these students often have the same frustrations about what they could (or should) have done as freshmen. Because you have a rising 9th grader, we want to share their thoughts with you:
5 things our seniors wish they had known before 9th grade...
1) YOUR GRADES IN 9TH GRADE COUNT!
It’s true, they do. While colleges certainly look at a student’s evolution over time, admissions officers will see grades from all four years of high school. That means students need to make sure tricky transitions, like from Algebra to Geometry or from middle to high-school writing, are relatively smooth. To ease this adjustment, lots of TA students preview these topics with their tutors ahead of the first month of school.
2) ORGANIZATION IS KEY IN HIGH SCHOOL.
As all our high-school graduates can tell you, knowing how to take notes, study for cumulative exams, break down long-term assignments into short-term tasks, and manage multiple assignments at once are the real determinants of success at top schools. In fact, our academic sessions often focus heavily on these essential skills, in addition to course content.
3) COLLEGES EXPECT INVOLVEMENT IN ACTIVITIES OVER TIME.
Extra-curricular activities comprise a substantial portion of the Common Application. And the application is detailed: your child will be describing the activity itself (debate, for example); his or her level of involvement (President of the Debate Club); the hours/week and weeks/year spent on the activity (4 hours/week, 40 weeks/year); and how many years spent on the activity (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and plan to continue in college). Colleges will be looking for depth over breadth, so getting engrossed in just a few activities early will take your child much further than suddenly joining lost of clubs in the 11th grade.
4) JUST BECAUSE I WAS IN BIOLOGY AS A 9TH GRADER DOESN'T MEAN I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THE SAT BIOLOGY SUBJECT TEST.
Of course, the SAT Biology is a good idea for a select group of 9th graders, but we meet countless sophomores and juniors who regret spending the energy prepping for the SAT Biology in 9th grade, only to be stuck with a 680 (unhelpful since those few universities who do require SAT Subject Tests are looking for minimum 700). If your 9th grader is a Biology rock star, we can talk about a June SAT Biology. Otherwise, it’s best to wait for later Subject Test opportunities!
5) GRADES MATTER, BUT COURSE LOAD MATTERS TOO.
Avoiding the advanced classes to get an easy A in the 9th grade? You might want to reconsider. Top colleges and universities are looking for rigorous course loads, and this figures largely into their decisions. It’s important to balance grades with course intensity. If you have any questions about the right courses for your child, we are happy to advise.