Ninth graders have the opportunity to explore passions
and excel at crucial subjects
Students will start to build the academic skills that
will be measured on college admissions tests during their sophomore, junior, and
In math, reading, and writing, there is a foundation being built now that will
make a big difference later in high school. As freshmen, all students should be
taking classes in the following areas: English, math, science, social science,
and foreign language. Most students will take Algebra 1 or Geometry for math,
Biology or Chemistry for science, and World or United States History as their
Time management will start to become crucial.
Between academics, out of
school work, clubs, sports, and recreation, there is a lot more going on starting
in 9th grade. Students have to be smart about their choices or they’ll end up
overwhelmed and exhausted. During this time, students will have the opportunity
to start/continue to explore their interests and passions, which will ultimately
inform decisions about college and career.
Opportunities for Growth
Freshmen that have demonstrated content mastery to this point in time must
continue their past academic performance while considering the wider array of
skills that will be necessary for later high school and collegiate success.
Previous academic achievement will reflect itself in the academic track on
which these students begin in high school, but not in the Grade Point Average
that is ultimately submitted to colleges. On the first day of freshman year,
everyone starts with a blank slate.
As freshmen receiving top marks are on a track towards the most-rigorous possible
courses later in high school, such as Advanced Placement classes, it is important
now to develop the types of study habits and time management skills that will
allow for a smoother transition to this increased workload. It is essential to
increase the quality of one’s study time before the quantity of work increases.
It is also important for these students to begin to enrich their college
applications beyond academic achievement. Involvement in extracurricular
activities such as sports, music, student government, and/or volunteering will
allow high-achieving academic students to stand out from the many other high-performing
students that apply to the most competitive colleges. Getting involved at
this early point in high school also allows for the building of leadership skills
and the opportunity to lead these organizations later in high school, which are
both viewed highly by colleges when evaluating applications.
Freshmen who have demonstrated the content knowledge to receive B grades, but
not A’s, to this point in their academic careers must work to identify and develop
areas of skill weakness that are separating them from the extra points needed to
receive top marks. If a student can raise their grades from a B to an A at
this moment, then only these higher marks will be reflected in the Grade Point Average
that a college will see when he or she is a senior.
This is also essential at this point in a student’s academic career as, in most
cases, students who receive A’s during 9th grade will begin to position themselves
to take honors classes as sophomores, which will later funnel them into Advanced
Placement classes as juniors and seniors. Receiving the highest possible grades in
the most competitive courses is the best argument students can make for why a college
should accept them.
A significant part of this push to the top of the grade scale will be fostering a
growth mindset – the student’s belief in his or her own ability to overcome whatever
challenges have previously held him or her back from becoming an “A student.”
C or Below Students
Freshmen who are receiving predominantly C grades or below still have time to build
the skill mastery and content knowledge to improve their academic performance. As colleges
only will only view grades starting in 9th grade, if a student can evaluate their grades
at this point in time, there will be no evidence of their history at a “C Student” beyond
the courses into which he or she was placed as a freshman.
Considering this academic track is particularly important, as students that can raise
their grades as freshman still have the time to begin ascending into the honors classes
that will later allow them to enroll in and succeed in the most rigorous classes such as
Not only will this skill building allow for higher grades and the potential to take
more rigorous classes later in high school, it will also prepare students for the
standardized assessments that they will take during sophomore, junior, and senior years.
Much of the content on the ACT® and SAT® aligns with 9th grade math, writing,
and reading skills. It is also necessary that students at this grade level develop a mindset that allows them
to believe they can achieve academically. Many students begin to identify their status
as a “C student” as a permanent condition, and not one that can be changed with the
appropriate individualized support. Developing a growth mindset in students
now is essential, as at no other time in high school will they have a blank slate in
regards to their Grade Point Average and their ability to enrich their application
with extracurricular activities.