Calling All 8th & 9th Graders! A Guide to Getting Ready for the College Application Process

Even though college may seem far away, it’s never too early to start building a strong foundation for the exciting process of applying to college; now more than ever, it is crucial to get an early start. You can begin to create a solid student portfolio just by getting involved in the things you love. Begin to explore your passions and interests by joining clubs, taking classes, and attending events. Now is a great time for academic and personal exploration and growth. So, where should you get started? Preminente counselors recommend focusing on challenging yourself academically, getting involved in extracurriculars and community service, and participating in meaningful summer experiences such as internships and employment, academic programs, and cultural immersion experiences.


As you enter high school, it’s important that you have a strong self-awareness about your academic capabilities. Choose classes that challenge you and push you to meet your full potential. In the summer prior to high school, look ahead at the classes offered and plan out an academic path for yourself. Some high schools let you focus on specific content areas, and most allow you to choose from a variety of electives. Be strategic in your coursework and if you are unsure of how to go about it, speak to a Preminente counselor about selecting classes that meet your academic needs and will help you achieve your long-term goals.


As a freshman, you are given a fresh start and a new opportunity to redefine your interests and join new teams, clubs, or organizations. Most schools host a club fair or informational session on all of the activities that are available to participate in. Do your homework; find out what your choices are and get involved!

With so many extracurricular activities available, it can be hard to decide which ones to choose. Follow your passions and interests. When applying to college, admission officers want to see that you are participating in activities that resonate most with your beliefs, interests, and academic goals for the future. Colleges appreciate a student who has meaningful extracurricular experiences. When a college looks at your application, they want to see a reflection of who you are through the activities you choose to participate in. Don’t pressure yourself to get involved in every club your school has to offer; when it comes to extracurricular activities, it is about the in- depth commitment you show to a few important things, not a shallow level of commitment to a lot of things. Make it a goal for yourself to seek out leadership opportunities in the activities you are most passionate about.

Extracurriculars can add depth to your college application, but they have other benefits as well. According to a multitude of studies from reputable sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the Excellence in Education Journal, and The Psychology of Education, among others, there is a strong connection between extracurricular involvement and positive educational and developmental outcomes. Extracurricular commitment has been linked to higher GPA and test scores, while also resulting in greater professional success by providing opportunities to learn communication and leadership skills that are beneficial in the workplace.

Community Service

Getting involved in philanthropic organizations is another way to build a strong student profile in preparation for college applications. Not only will it benefit your community, but it adds depth to your resume and provides invaluable experiences for you to grow and learn from. If you are unsure how to get started, begin by asking yourself some questions:

What do I enjoy doing?
What do I care about?
What problems do I want to solve?

Once you understand your motivation, seek out establishments and organizations in your local community that correspond to those goals and see how you can get involved with the causes that are closest to your heart.

Community service can also be a way to expose yourself to professional experiences that tie into your future goals. If you are thinking about a career in education, consider volunteering at a library or a school. Perhaps you are interested in the medical field; think about volunteering at a nursing home or hospital. Community service allows you to make a meaningful impact while also learning about future job opportunities.
Ask a Preminente counselor about volunteer opportunities near you.

Summer Programs

In the summer, there are countless opportunities for you to learn and interact with other passionate and motivated teens. There are camps and programs all over the world that allow you to pursue new interests, learn valuable skills, and begin to build a solid network of peers and mentors. Many colleges offer pre-college programs where you can live on a college campus and participate in college-level coursework and lectures. Summer programs can range from a few days to multiple weeks, and can provide an enriching experience that will undoubtedly set you apart from other college applicants.

Where can you find out about these valuable opportunities? Preminente has curated a list of amazing summer prospects to help prepare you for college readiness. Our counselors and strategic partners offer personalized guidance and support to match you to a summer program that suits your academic goals and personal interests.

In Conclusion

Take advantage of the opportunities that surround you to help get yourself college-application-ready! Talk to Preminente college counselors about ways to hit the ground running as you head into the next chapter of your educational journey.

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