You don’t need to read our blog to know that getting good grades will help you get into college. But here are five tips you might not have thought of, tips that anyone from “A” students to “C” students can use to be more successful in high school.
1. Get to know your high school counselor (and when you do, be nice).
Your high school counselor is not only a resource for you, but can also be your advocate with teachers and colleges. So before you pick your classes, meet with your counselor. If you have a question about college, ask your counselor. And if you happen to have an extra batch of fresh-baked cookies lying around, bring some to your counselor. We’re not saying you should schmooze with insincerity; we’re saying that you should acknowledge, appreciate and benefit from your counselor’s willingness to help you.
2. Worry more about challenging yourself than you do about your GPA.
Colleges want you to challenge yourself. And while that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to take AP Everything (that’s a technical term), it does mean that you should show the colleges you don’t back away from academic challenges, even if it means you don’t get A’s in all your classes. In fact, colleges would much rather see you earn a “B” in a hard class like AP Chemistry than get an "A" in an easier class like marine biology or “cupcake decorating” (which is much, much easier than both chemistry and marine biology).
3. Be careful who you listen to about classes.
“Everyone says AP US is, like, impossible.” Really? Does everyone say that? Or just two students you know, students who spent most of their time dozing off and drooling on themselves during class? No offense (and we know that whenever someone says “no offense,” they usually say something offensive to you next), but high school students often exaggerate. A lot. So be careful who you listen to about the quality of a course or a teacher. Find out for yourself. Talk to many people. Talk to your counselor. And in fact, talk to the teacher before you decide. And that brings us to our next tip…
4. Talk to teachers before you take the class.
There are some colleges (like Sarah Lawrence, for example) where students get to interview the professors before they sign up for classes. And while we don’t advocate asking one of your potential teachers, “So, what are you going to do for me in this class of yours?”, learning more about a class can help you make the decision whether or not to enroll. For example, if you’re worried AP European History may be more than you can handle, introduce yourself to the teacher, tell her why you’re worried, and ask to make an appointment to learn more about the class. You’ll make a more informed decision and you’ll impress the teacher with your maturity and initiative.
5. Be a class participator.
We really can’t emphasize enough how much of an advantage you will have if you just participate in class (at least, we can’t emphasize it enough without using all capital letters and bold print). The teacher will appreciate that you are engaged. Your grade will likely be higher in the class. And you’ll be much more likely to get a positive letter of recommendation from that teacher when you apply to college. So get your hand up, ask questions. and be a classroom contributor.