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College Planning for Grades 9-11

Although students apply to colleges during their senior year, it is the actions students take during grades 9-11 that determine what kind of college opportunities they will have. Below is a list of things students need to be doing in grades 9-11.

  • Good grades and challenging classes
    • The number one thing that colleges look at when admitting students are grades and the difficulty of classes taken. Colleges want to see students take the most challenging courses that their school offers. Starmount only offers 2-3 AP classes each year, but there are plenty of opportunities for students to go beyond the normal high school curriculum.
  • Surry Community College courses through the Career and College Promise Program
    • Students can earn college credit by taking classroom or online classes from Surry.
      • Eligibility for CCPP courses:
        • College transfer track requirements: 3.0 GPA and college placement test.
        • Career/Technical Education track: 3.0 GPA or approval from Starmount administration.
  • North Carolina Virtual Public High School (NCVPS)
    • Online classes that count for high school credit. NCVPS allows students to take courses that are not offered at Starmount such as language courses and AP courses.
  • Internships and exploring interests
    • Mrs. Donna Reavis offers internships at local companies and organizations. Take advantage of this opportunity during your junior and senior years.
    • There are also many free, online development opportunities. For example, many college courses from the top universities around the world are now available online for free at the following websites:
  • Extracurricular activities
    • Extracurricular activities such as sports, music/art/theater, volunteering, and jobs are an important part of the college application process at many schools, especially at smaller and more selective colleges and universities.
    • For extracurricular activities, colleges want to see commitment and leadership. They want to see students commit to activities and take leadership positions rather than taking part in many different activities for short periods of time.
  • Testing
  • Visiting colleges
    • Visiting is the best way to get a feel for a campus. Sophomore and junior year is a great time to start visiting colleges, especially during days off school (teacher work days and holidays) and during spring break.
    • When visiting, make sure to not only go on the campus tour, but to also speak with an admissions representative, talk to a professor in the department where you want to study, and sit-in on a full class. You can set all this up by contacting the university admissions department.
  • Summer enrichment programs
    • Summer enrichment programs are opportunities that can help Starmount students explore their interests, meet similar-minded peers, and get on college campuses early in high school. Summer enrichment programs take a variety of shapes from 1-day events to week-long camps, to even month long experiences.
    • For example, students participating in the July Experience at Davidson College live on Davidson's campus for a month, taking 2 courses from Davidson professors. They don't get high school or college credit, but the experience is what counts.
    • Summer programs can be expensive, but don't be scared off by the price tag. Many of the top programs have financial aid opportunities that students should apply to in addition to the program application. However, these programs are also competitive, meaning that students may not be accepted to each program they apply for. To increase the odds of being accepted to a competitive college enrichment program, it is important to apply to 3-5 programs, not just to a single one.
    • As always, when in doubt, contact the program or ask Starmount Guidance.
    • Use the National College Access Program Directory to search for college access and summer enrichment programs across North Carolina: Summer Enrichment Programs at NC Colleges and Universities
  • Stay organized and stay on track