Road Map for April: Freshmen

It’s National Volunteer Month, and it’s the perfect time to find a service opportunity. Volunteering lets you build on your current interests or explore new ones, meet new people and develop your skills. To find an opportunity, check out Points of Light’s Engage website, or get in touch with a local nonprofit that supports a cause you care about and find out how you can help promote their mission. (And yes, in addition to numerous other benefits, community service is valued by colleges.)

Speaking of what colleges value, you may also be choosing your courses for 10th grade. Colleges like to see students taking a rigorous curriculum. Of course, in addition to taking challenging classes, you also have to get good grades. My rule of thumb is to take the most challenging classes you can do well in WITHOUT being overwhelmed, and to consider not only each individual class but also your course load as a whole. In other words, you might be able to handle that honors English class, you can ace the accelerated math class, and you’re fully prepared to take on the AP history class . . . but can you handle all of them at the same time and still maintain your mental health?

To plan thoughtfully, ask your school counselor and your current teachers for their recommendations for each subject. You can also talk to current students and teachers of the courses you’re considering about the workload, and what qualities and skills students need to be successful in each class.