Now that summer is more than halfway over, incoming high school freshmen are surely starting to feel nervous about next year.

Who can blame them? Becoming a high school freshman is a big deal. Ninth grade encompasses so much more than “the year after middle school.” It’s an opportunity for students to define who they want to become and begin taking concrete actions to get there.

What exactly should students expect from freshman year? And how can they take the initiative to thrive in these next four years? Keep reading to find out.

Personal and Intellectual Development

High school is a time of immense growth and development. Teenagers are still kids—of course!—but they’re on a fast trajectory to adulthood. As your student begins freshman year, expect them to undergo changes in personal and intellectual development.

Changes in personal development:
  • Learning how to navigate personal victories, growth, failures, and frustrations, as well as friendships and romance
  • Experimenting with who they are, what they like, how they look, who they want to be friends with, and (most importantly) what they want out of life
  • Learning how to work more independently, organize their lives, and overcome personal stumbling blocks
Changes in intellectual development:
  • Preparing to become “lifelong learners,” passionate about new ideas and constantly challenging the limits of their own understanding
  • Facing increasingly difficult classes with harder workloads while juggling extracurriculars and (eventually) standardized testing
  • Contributing to their “permanent record,” which college admissions officers will eventually review later down the road

As freshmen undergo these changes, it’s important for them to take the initiative and create a strategic plan for the next four years. We refer to this plan as the High School Road Map.

A High School Road Map for Freshmen

We advise all high school freshmen to create a road map that takes them from their first day of high school all the way through graduation. The process of making a road map helps students become the person they want to be: confident, organized, passionate, and ready to make the world their own.

Encourage your student to create their own roadmap by taking a moment to answer these five questions:

  • What am I passionate about? What do I want to do with my life?
  • What classes do I need to take?
  • What kind of relationships do I want to build with teachers, coaches, and club directors?
  • What standardized tests do I need to take and when will I take them?
  • What do I enjoy doing outside the classroom?

Once your student has answered these questions, they can begin mapping! Here are a few strategies our clients have found helpful:

  • Creating a calendar to mark important test dates and milestones
  • Creating a checklist that converts aspirations into actionable items and coming up with a set of concrete goals for each semester
  • Visualizing objectives, like with our high school road map spreadsheet

Some students will find themselves struggling to take the initiative and embrace their newfound independence. That’s completely understandable—and the good news is that they don’t have to go it alone.

If your incoming freshman needs additional support acclimating to high school, they could be a great candidate for academic coaching. This unique service gives students the tools and support they need to discover and meet their true potential.

Contact Signet to see if academic coaching is the right fit for your student.