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Starting with 9th Grade (Freshman Year)
It's your first day of high school; in some places, you are still in junior high school or middle school. DO NOT BUY A BUNCH OF SCHOOL SUPPLIES for the first day. If your school has a summer bridge program take full advantage. It is like summer school, but you take two classes: a math, and an English. This gets you ready for the material you will learn. You also take a test that will determine what level you are on. When you get to high school on the first day, you will go to all of your classes. Each one of those teachers will give you a list of supplies that they want for their class specifically. They will expect you to have these supplies before the second week of school. Go shopping on the second or third day of school just in case your school does "block" scheduling. A "blocked" schedule is when you go to all of your even periods on one day, and the next day you go to all of your odd periods. Usually, each class would be two hours. Without a block schedule, you go to every class every day and each class is about 55 minutes. Most schools have one day in the week where you get out of school early, and the teachers and staff meet after school.
Ninth grade is not that important, but that doesn't mean you can fail all of your classes. Colleges don't look at 9th grade unless you took college classes or classes that you normally don't take in the 9th grade. I suggest you should find your friend and get familiar with the school and which activities you might want to get into. Make sure you pass all the classes with at least a C because you do not want to repeat any classes. You will not like sitting in a class full of freshmen as a senior or going to summer school because you were too busy having fun. Another important tip to remember: You are in a new environment so you do not have to try and fit in—just be yourself. Do not feed into the gossip of the upperclassmen. You might want to respect the upperclassmen because they tend to think they are better than you and may run over you.
10th Grade (Sophomore Year)
In 10th grade, you have had the chance to get familiar with the school, and you are no longer at the bottom of the food chain. You now look at the freshmen like children even though you were them last year. Some of your friends might have switched schools or failed classes. This year you should start getting into different school activities. This will look good on college applications. You still need to make sure you are passing all of your classes. This year you need to start paying attention to your grade point average. You want to have something from a 2.5 to a 3.0. In California, we have a big test that you take in 10th grade called the CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam). This test has math, English, and written portions. You can not receive a high school diploma until you pass this test. The material is everything you have learned from the beginning of your school career until now. Many people don't pass the first time, but that is okay because you have three chances. If you want to get ahead, start looking at the SAT and ACT test for next year. Look at colleges as well. Eleventh grade will be highly focused on colleges and tests, so you need to be prepared. You also want to keep your grades up.
11th Grade (Junior Year)
This year is one of the most important years of high school. This is the year colleges look at most. You need to be more focused than ever this year. If possible, take some advanced placement classes (AP) or college courses. Elective classes are also great to take. If your GPA is not 2.0 or higher, then this is the year where you would want to raise it to at least a 2.5–3.0. This is the year of tests. Usually, this will be the last year that you take the standardized test. You will take the SAT or ACT as well. If you plan on going to college or even join the military, these tests are very important to take and get a high score. If your GPA is not as high, these tests will help make up for that. Start exploring your college options and go on college tours. You will get a lot of mail and paperwork from colleges, so make sure you stay organized. Start applying for scholarships and grants. The FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is where you will get you your financial aid. You will need to start looking for people to write letters of recommendations. Your school counselor can help you with this. If you don't know your counselor well, you will get to know them very well this year.
Even though the junior year is very important on your transcripts, don't forget to have fun. Go to the sporting events, dances, and pep rallies. Now that you are a junior you may know some of the seniors who are going to the prom and you may get invited. Last but not least, just relax and have fun, you are almost out of high school.
12th Grade (Senior Year)
Congratulations, you made it to your senior year. You may have noticed many people that you started high school with are not all there. At this point in high school, people may have determined that they want to pursue other options in life or take another road. If you made it this far you should keep going because it will be rewarding in the end. The senior year will go by very quickly. At the beginning of the year, you will apply to colleges and apply for financial aid. You still need to make sure you are keeping your grades up. You don't want to slack or give up here. Senioritis is real and you do not want to fall into that. You still may want to take AP classes and electives because colleges still look at all of these things. THE SENIOR YEAR STILL MATTERS.
The first few months will be all about colleges and your senior pictures. If you haven't bought a yearbook before, you will want to buy your senior yearbook.
After the first break in the new year, you will start to hear back from the different colleges you have applied to. That is very exciting and rewarding. After the college acceptance letters, you will go into your senior activities. Just make sure that, with all the fun going around you, you stay focused and organized.
You may want to participate in as many activities as possible. Even if you aren't that type of person, I highly suggest going to your senior prom. It will either be one of the best nights of your life or the worst, but either way, you definitely want that experience.
It is now time for graduation. You finally made it through high school. When you walk across the stage, you will be overwhelmed with emotions, and you will be excited, but I'm sure you will miss high school and all of the friendships and memories that were created. Some of these friendships you will continue to have throughout your life. You will want to cherish these friendships.
I hope this mini-guide helps. There are many more topics and things to be discussed about high school, but sometimes you have to just live through experiences and make mistakes on your own.