By Michelle Sandoval
Freshman year is the perfect time for researching and planning for opportunities that will help build your college applications and practice good time management. Experiences outside of your regular academic classes, such as summer programs, volunteer opportunities and more are what will help build your character, drive your interests and eventually become experiences from which you pull from to write college and scholarship essays, talk about in interviews and more. However, keep in mind that you will still need to maintain your grades and regular academic commitments, so when considering extracurricular activities, be realistic with what you can and cannot do. Here are some tips:
1. Manage your time and decide which extracurricular activities to which you can commit.
It is really tempting to join just about every club that offers free goodies or cool trips, but you must realize that the amount of homework will increase as the school year progresses. You don’t want to be swamped with schoolwork and an overcommitted schedule.
2. Select a few, quality extracurricular commitments.
Your time after school and on weekends should consist of more than just sleeping, eating, and watching TV. If you have nothing else to do, then you should be looking for activities that interest you, but that you can also continue doing for the rest of your time in high school. Narrow your choices to a club or two that are of the greatest interest to you personally and academically, and participate enough to show colleges that you were committed.
3. Know when to ask for help.
If you’re struggling with a subject, please let your teacher know as soon as possible so that a plan of action can be established before your grade is too low and nothing can be done about it.
4. You will make mistakes. Learn from it and move on.
A bad exam grade is not the end of the world. You might have a day when you’re completely surprised by the teacher announcing that they’re collecting a homework assignment that was due that day. But you have to bounce back. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll learn from your mistake. Buy a planner that will help you track assignments, set a reminder on your phone, or create a weekly assignment list with due dates. Find your strategy and make it work for you.
5. Keep on top of your daily school schedule.
As new students to campus, it may be challenging to remember your daily class schedules. For example, at ERHS, we have all periods (0-6) on Mondays and Fridays, but alternate schedules on the other days. I see many students waste time trying to find the printed sheet that contains their schedule instead of storing it somewhere that is easily accessible. In time you will memorize your schedule, but until then, keep your schedule permanently clipped to a folder or a card that is easy to find and keep you moving.
Finally, know that Generation 1st Degree is here to help with any college preparation questions, and I encourage you to become involved. The more you know earlier in your high school year, the more easier it will be to manage college and scholarship application needs as you get closer to your senior year.