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Students Grades 9-10

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High school is here. Time to put your college plan into motion. Freshman and sophomores can utilize College Connect resources to continue their college exploration. Here are a few focal points that are particularly important to ninth and tenth graders.  

Tips and what to expect – Freshmen

  • Take orientation seriously. Get familiar with your schedule, learn how to get to your classes, know how to get into your locker, etc.
  • Get organized. Teachers will expect more from you.
  • There will be more opportunities to get involved in school and explore new interests. Take advantage of these opportunities. 
  • You’re going to make new friends. 
  • Check out for more useful tips. 

Tips and what to expect – Sophomores

Career exploration

Get involved in school or community-based activities that interest you or let you explore career interests. Consider working, volunteering, and/or participating in academic enrichment programs, summer workshops, and camps with specialty focuses such as music, arts, or science.  

Start a list of your awards, honors, paid and volunteer work, and extracurricular activities. Update it throughout high school.  

Use the U.S. Department of Labor’s career search tool to research your career options. 

Class choice  

Ask your guidance counselor or teachers what Advanced Placement courses are available, whether you are eligible, and how to enroll in them.

Sophomore year is usually the first time you can take AP classes. But before you sign up for the first course that catches your eye, look at the big picture. What classes do you want to take junior and senior year? Ensure that you are getting the prerequisites now that you’ll need for the next step. Check out more tips on choosing AP subjects .

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Work with one of your parents to estimate your financial aid using FAFSA4caster and be sure to save for college.

Dual enrollment: Earning college credit in high school 

Several Arizona community colleges offer dual enrollment programs, which allow high school students to earn college and high school credit at the same time. These programs can be very valuable for several reasons:

  • Credits are easy to transfer to Arizona universities
  • College costs are reduced
  • Students finish college faster
  • Course duplication during early college years is eliminated
  • Students are academically challenged

AZTransfer is a great resource to connect students and parents to dual enrollment options.   

Here is an example of a transfer scenario:

Let’s say that you’re a New York high school student who has his or her heart set on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell. (Yes… you’ve had visions of attending an “Ivy” since eighth grade.) The problem is that although you’re an excellent student when measured in terms of grades, you’ve never done particularly well on standardized exams. Call it test anxiety… call it whatever… the discouraging fact is that your SAT (or ACT) scores did not come close to reflecting your academic ability. And so, sadly, Cornell turned you down.

The encouraging news, though, is that Cornell has the highest transfer acceptance rate in the Ivy League. So you head off to your local community college, achieve a G.P.A. of 3.7 (while carefully meeting the terms of the articulation agreement* with Cornell), and apply for transfer as a junior. Because of your demonstrated success in your two-year program, you’ve not only become an attractive candidate to Cornell, but your test score carries much less weight. (In fact, Cornell will accept transfer students who never even took the SAT, but students who have scores must present them.)


Dual enrollment tips

Maintain good class attendance. Missing even one class session can have a negative impact on your grade, and it is very difficult to get caught up once you're behind. 

Get help early. If you begin to struggle in a course, don't wait until later to get help. Arrange a meeting with your instructor or a counselor right away for help. Meet with other students to form a study group. Take advantage of tutoring services as PTC, and NetTutor, which is available online in your D2L Brightspace account.

Have your own textbook by the first day of class. Most college courses include a good deal of reading. Some college tests or exams may include material from the assigned reading that was not covered in class lecture, which makes your textbook a valuable tool for success in your class. Don't share textbooks.

Learn how to take good notes. It is important to capture class lectures and discussion by writing down important information. Create a system for jotting down concepts and information in a shortened way. Use an outline or other orderly method. Leave extra room in your notes and margin for adding extra notes to add to them later.

Don’t let tests and exams scare you. A test is simply the opportunity to show the knowledge you have gained in the course. It is not designed to make you fail, but to ensure that you understand what has been taught. If you begin to feel anxious, try these things: 

  • Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you studied the material.
  • Take the test one question at a time and don’t worry about the questions coming up next.
  • If you don’t know something, mark it and come back to it. Do the ones you know first, because that will give you a boost of confidence. Sometimes other questions will even give you answers or hints for other test questions!
  • And don’t worry if you’re the last one finishing the test- there are no bonus points for finishing quickly.
  • If it is a timed test try to pace yourself by identifying the test question you should be working on at the halfway point of the test period. If the halfway point comes and you have not reached that question yet, you know to speed up a bit.

Test-taking doesn’t have to be a negative experience if you study and believe in yourself.

Know how many classes you can realistically handle each semester. Don’t overload yourself. It is better to do well in a few courses than to barely get by in several. Talk with your high school counselor to determine the right number of PTC courses for you.

Take classes that you know you can use. Although your PTC courses will almost always transfer, they may not transfer as a course that you can use for your selected major. It is your responsibility to check with the university or college of your choice to make sure that you take courses that can be applied to your major.

Withdrawal is the last option. Do not withdraw from a PTC course unless you have first discussed it with your high school counselor. Withdrawing can have a negative impact on your high school graduation eligibility, etc.

College Connect programs for 9-10 graders


College Connect offers several free workshops every year that provide the perfect opportunity for parents and students to familiarize themselves with the college process. Workshop topics range from career prep to financial aid to class choice.

One-on-one appointments

These are free, personalized appointments where parents and students get one-on-one time with a College Connect expert. For middle schoolers, a one-on-one appointment is a great place to start the discussion about career and school interests and class choice.

College Chats

These are smaller sessions with experienced advisors from state and community colleges who can answer questions about college. 

Questions? Call 480-858-7890.