What to do second semester of freshman year?Answered
I'm a freshman in high school, and I took the following classes (this first semester):
- ap macro: b-
- ap world: B
- alg 2 honors: a
- freshman writing ( a school requirement): a-
- french honors: a-
I am not happy with my grades, and I'm worried that I will be rejected from my dream school (NYU) when it comes time to apply. I have a lot of strong extracurriculars, and when I put it into the chancing calculator, it says they're what a typical admitted student has. Please advise me on what to do next - I'm going to work extra hard this upcoming semester, to get all a's, and in the future. I have anxiety, and it really impacted me this first semester. Thanks everyone!
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My advice is not to "get ahead of your skis" or you might fall over. It's clear you are a smart student because most 9th graders do not take 2 AP courses and 2 Honors courses. But you can see for yourself from your grades that if you had taken just 1 AP or 1 Honor you might have received straight As without any penalty for Course Rigor since 99.9% of colleges do not expect 9th grades to take 4 weighted classes in Freshman year.
If you need documentary evidence of this, just watch a bunch of youtube videos of NYU college acceptance/stats videos and you will quickly see that none of them had taken 4 weighted classes in 9th grade. Most of them took APs or IBs during Junior and Senior year and the range of APs for NYU tend to be between 4-8 total, which is a little lower than Ivy Schools or Elite Colleges which still tend to be in the 6-9 range on average. There are always certifiable geniuses in every applicant pool that have taken 12+ APs but that is unusual because that means a student took 2 APs 10th, 5 in 11th, and 5 in 12th, on top of core requirements like Heath, PE, Arts, or some communications class to graduate.
After deciding how many APs you really need, I would work backward. APs will be easier to take in 11th and 12th because you will be able to understand and show evidence of course mastery when you are 16 to 18 versus when you are 14. So if you want to play it safe and take 7 or 9 APs total, I would take 3 in Senior Year, 3 In Junior year, and only 1 next year as a Sophomore. Then you will have 9 APs. You need to focus on getting your Unweighted GPA up from a 3.42 to like a 3.8 by the end of 11th grade and that will mean strategic focus on taking classes you can Ace versus trying to keep up with the course rigor of Juniors and Seniors.
If you find yourself will extra time on your hands, then I would use that time to do the following instead of telling yourself you should have taken more APs.
1.) Develop your spike - whatever that is. It could be music, art, a sport, and unique academic interest.
2.) Participate in clubs that align with your passions - And stick with those clubs for 2 to 3 years and have a leadership position in them.
3.) Do community service like serving on Boards - Try to get a leadership position as a Student Member of a City Council or something like that.
4.) Improve your writing because when you apply your ability to write great essays will do more for you than having more APs classes.
5.) Being a good student is more than doing the work. Aim to be a great example for your peers and someone your teachers admire. In 3 years, you will need those teachers and administrators, and other adults to write recommendations for you and advocate for you. In a sea of smart kids, college admissions officers want to admit people of great character who show evidence of integrity, grit, collaboration, and kindness. You don't get glowing recommendations simply because you get an A in a course. You need to learn to develop personal relationships with your teachers and other adults in your life if you haven't' already.
6.) Standardized tests will be back after the pandemic is over. So figure out what you need to plan for, either the ACT or SAT, and start taking practice tests and opening an account on Khan Academy, and learning how to master to take the test. You can be a straight-A student and still not get a 99% percentile score on the SAT or ACT so you'll need to set aside potentially a couple of hundred hours of prep to get there.
Good luck with the rest of your HS. You have plenty of time to get it right.
Since you're a freshman, it'll still be very impressive to colleges if you can show upward growth with your grades. Sure, you may have gotten a few Bs and A-s, but you can demonstrate through your grades in the future that you know how to solve problems and improve your academics. Especially if you have strong extracurriculars, imperfect grades as a freshman shouldn't hurt your chances too much.
I'd recommend identifying what caused your grades in these classes to slip, and making a targeted plan to improve them next semester. It could even give you a good essay topic one day - how you noticed issues with your academics, and then made and followed through on a plan to improve them.
Just keep going, and best of luck!
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