How to Create a Four-Year Plan for High School Freshmen (10 Tips)

High school immerses students into new challenges, information, facts and much more. In reality, high school is just preparation for the highest form of education, which helps students pave their path into a good-standing job and career development. Colleges and universities are competitive institutions and as such, only the best students get to specialize in a certain field and do it for a living. With that in mind, we crafted a guide on creating the best four-year plan for high school freshmen in ten intuitive steps.

Why is making a four-year plan for high school freshmen important?

As mentioned above, college and university are competitive educational institutes and they demand students to do their level best to succeed. Students attend high school at a sensitive age. They face puberty, first crushes, friendship and more. Keeping up with high demands set by education can be difficult and it’s not unknown that students lose their track and end up questioning their path.

That’s why this article focuses on creating an intuitive and comprehensive plan, that will help students define their hobbies and how they can turn them into their career path one day. Using the steps highlighted in this article, students set on the path of self-discovery and self-improvement.

Students should cooperate with their parents to create the plan. They can focus on their interests, what their extracurricular activities could be, how to organize and manage their time better, save money and improve their overall motivation and productivity. The message of the four-year plan should be that students shouldn’t feel discouraged when underperforming, but use it as a lesson to advance forward.

Without further ado, we’re going to detail how to create a four-year plan for high school freshmen.

1. Highlight the graduation requirements of your high school

Check list

When you begin high school, the first couple of weeks will feel extremely easy and relaxing. However, every high school has its own set of rules and requirements for graduation. When enrolling, ensure to ask about the minimal curriculum. The minimal curriculum is a requirement all students must complete before they’re allowed to get their diploma.

The best way to learn about the minimal curriculum of the school you’re attending is to talk to your counselor. Counselor is one of the most important people when it comes to high school education and preparation for college. They will assist you throughout the education, help you with subjects, extracurricular activities,  choosing the right classes and finally, writing the letter of recommendation for the college you want to attend.

To get to learn about the minimal curriculum and meet your counselor better, schedule an appointment where they will inform you about it and other requirements set by the school. Communication is the key to determining which classes will suit your interests the best while working in favor of completing the necessary requirements to graduate.

In addition to providing the information on appropriate classes for you, they will advise you on when is the right time to complete those classes and courses. That said, they work for you to learn at the time you’re ready, both educationally and mentally.

The high school counselor will help you with the following:

  • Calculating the number of credits per subject which meets the requirements of graduation.
  • Whether or not you should take AP(Advanced Placement) courses. – AP courses allow students to study some courses at the same level as college students and require devotion and dedication.
  • Decide whether it is worth taking some classes that will help with particular college enrollment and add-up as credit hours at college, or whether there are such classes at all. – Make sure to be as detailed as possible, and tell them about all the concerns you may have like whether there are requirements for such subjects and where can you find more information about the transferable credits.
  • How to set the right goals in getting proper cumulative GPA. A cumulative GPA is important in determining the right college for you. Students with the best GPA can graduate with honors which also makes for a plus when applying for college.
  • Determining the right time to have check-ups and appointments with the counselor to ensure that you’re still trying your best and working hard on meeting the high school requirements. On each appointment, you’ll talk to your counselor about the subjects you attend and your performance at them.

Perhaps, it’d be best to attend the first meeting with a counselor with your parents. You can all sit together and define your student goals. Your parents may help you give a clearer picture of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as what talents really make you stand out.

In the end, not all answers may be available to you immediately. That’s why your counselor will ask you to hold frequent appointments so that they can keep track of your performance and how you cope with the high school environments. With time, you should have the answer to your career and subject interests.

Lastly, your counselor and you should create the most realistic goals. They should encourage you to be hardworking, consistent and punctual so that you can get the best results out of your performance. Tell your counselor that you need guidance and support, even when not everything is so bright. They should help you earn early working habits so you can provide consistent performance and grades.

2. Obtain and maintain good grades

Obtain and maintain good grades

When all criteria add, it’s your grades that are the final judgment of whether you’ll be accepted to college or not. It’s of utmost importance to build good grades and maintain a decent High-Grade Point Average (GPA)

Both Colleges and universities are going to look at your GPA first when you apply. The grades will help them determine what your admission status is. They will also create an evaluation of what your performance will be at a college level. Here are some tips on how to get and maintain good grades.

  • Be hardworking: Studying hard is the first step towards earning good grades. The teachers will look at your performance at written tests and notice you standing out. If you feel you’re struggling with studying and maintaining good grades, be sure to consult with your tutors and school counselor on how you can improve your grades. Don’t shy away from asking for tutoring, the teachers are working in your best interest.
  • Attend regularly: Don’t skip and miss classes. Be sure to show up on every test, even when you feel like you won’t perform the best. Focus on class projects, whether they are single- or group projects. In case you get sick and miss an important lecture or a test, communicate with your teacher and ask them to make a schedule makeup test so you wouldn’t miss on the important syllabus.

If you feel you can take the weight of AP tests, you should try taking onto them. They are extremely important towards polishing your GPA, easily pushing it over the coveted threshold. More importantly, with the right organization, they’ll help you get college credit. Another program similar to AP courses is the IB (International Baccalaureate) program, which also helps students earn college credit before they actually become the students. Be wary, however, they can be difficult and time-tasking.

3. Do a self-evaluation of your skills and goals

Do a self-evaluation of your skills and goals

No counselor knows you better than yourself. Either before or after the appointment that we detailed in step one make self-evaluation and ask yourself the right questions about your goals and what drives your skills and dedication.

Consider it counseling with yourself – write down your interests, hobbies, what makes you excited and happy. Answer the questions like “Who are you?”, “What do you want to get from your life,” “Who do you want to become,” “What steps do you need to take to become who you want to be.”

Make a list, best so on paper and then talk to your parents about what you wrote down. They will give you the judgment of your self-evaluation and what things you need to change to achieve your best. If you have older siblings or cousins who have already gone through high school and college, they can help you more than parents because they’ve gone through that recently.

Think about the following aspects of yourself in the future:

  • What you’ve achieved so far in ten years from now.
  • Determine what’s your pace. What kind of lifestyle you want to lead after you graduate.
  • Define what drives your strengths as well as advantages. Define what are your weaknesses and disadvantages.
  • Imagine yourself working your dream job. What job is it? What does it take to do your dream job?
  • In case your plans go south, what is the alternative option you’ll resort to? Do you have a second career in your mind? How many school majors have you seen yourself studying?
  • What is the perfect college for you?
  • Think about the financial and moral support while studying at college.

Be honest when asking yourself these questions and providing a written image of your plans in the future. Don’t be overly ambitious if you know that your weaknesses include being lazy and procrastinating. Use the self-evaluation to improve your habits and set self-goals that you’ll look after every day.

If you know what you’re good at, it’s time to turn it into an income. Use your talents and what you excel at to make it your future. Afterward, the choice of electives and extracurricular activities should help you define who you are.

4. Choose the electives you think you’ll most excel at


Now that you’ve self-evaluated yourself, set the expectations for your grades and high school graduation requirements, it’s time to take the next step – choose the electives.

Electives are important because they are interesting to students who choose them according to their interests and future plans. They allow students to take a break from studying general subjects and explore their career possibilities in the future. Additionally, they provide an in-depth introduction to some concepts mentioned only briefly at the core subjects.

Electives help students learn where they like and dislikes reside. They also help students discover what they’re truly good at. Lastly, the college admission counselors will have a better understanding of what your ambitions and driving force are and give a clearer picture of why you chose their college.

Plan your electives with your counselor or parents. They are important steps in high school education, as they show how engaged and how seriously you take your education. If you don’t know which electives to pick, make sure to talk to your counselor and parents about what could work the best for you.

Also Read: The 10 Best Electives to Take in College: A Comprehensive Guide (2023 Updated)

5. Choose the extracurricular activities

extracurricular activities

The first thought students get when they hear the word “extracurricular activities” is “why do we have to do things in school even after hours of studying?” That’s why it’s important to choose wisely so students stay engaged and entertained even after they’ve had to stay at school to complete the activity.

Students engage with different clubs like drawing or reading clubs. They can join debating and spelling clubs or participate in some sports. Extracurricular activities, not only help students engage, get creative and make new friends, they also look stunning on an acting resume.

There are many benefits to choosing the right extracurricular activity. Students can enhance their creative skills and polish them, meet new people and spread the network onto knowledgeable and experienced people. Additionally, students will become more motivated in the classroom because they’ll have a lot of fun outside of it, all while knowing their engagement will be appreciated when they apply for college.

What colleges care about is creating a schedule that students can stick to, and that their schedule is full not only of studying activities but also those external ones. Lastly, extracurricular activities can teach us to work inside a team, something highly valued at colleges and work, as well as lead one.

There is a number of ways one can use to stay motivated and up to date with all the activities at school. Most high schools host morning announcements that will inform the students if some extracurricular activity will happen. If not, every high school campus hosts a bulletin board that is full of activities students can attend.

Another way to get informed about the extracurricular activities is to talk to the teachers, your counselor and shift administrators who are always up to date with all events. Lastly, upperclassmen can provide information on whether there is an upcoming event you can participate in. They mostly hold information about the sports activities that happen.

It’s worth mentioning that the extracurricular activity isn’t always easy to choose. It requires devotion, hardworking mindset, time management and commitment for it to be completed properly. Choosing the wrong extracurricular activity can lead to students feeling overwhelmed and even mentally exhausted which can have negative consequences.

Counselors and parents can help determine the number of extracurricular hours students must participate in each year. Distributing them properly means that students will focus on both studying and activities, but also have free time for themselves when they come home. Don’t get overloaded, don’t overdo, the point of the extracurricular activity is to enjoy yourself.

6. Find assets and tools that will help you remain productive

Find assets and tools that will help you remain productive

Students find it easy to be motivated and well-organized at the beginning of the year. However, as time and syllabuses progress, students will face difficulties staying on track, especially because of factors like electives and extracurricular activities mentioned above.

Luckily, the rapid development of technology, especially in the mobile field allowed for a great number of apps and websites to exist to enhance productivity. If they have an iPhone or an Android smartphone there is a great number of useful apps they can download from the App Store and Play Store respectively.

These apps are important because students often put up with struggles in staying motivated and inspired. The number of subjects grows which disrupts the organization so they may end up losing the track of their deadlines and due dates.

These apps help students create a reliable plan that will help them focus and stay on track the whole time. It is a system on its own that students use to remain productive. Checking regularly on a virtual board and reminders will help them not forget anything.

Online planners, reminders, calendars, assignment boards and trackers are everything a student needs to keep track of. There are also additional apps that help with time management and how to use time properly. It’s no secret that our smartphone has become a tool we use daily, sometimes even the whole day. With the right time and asset restriction apps, your productivity will skyrocket.

Apps worth checking out.

  • Trello
  • Asana
  • ClickUp
  • myHomework App
  • Google Calendar
  • SchoolTraq
  • Forest
  • Evernote
  • XMind
  • My Study Life
  • Flashcards

7. Engage in Summer Activities

Engage in Summer Activities

The summer is the time when students rest from a hard school year and prepare for the next one. That said, it’s quite hard to convince a student to give up their vacation for even more activities as opposed to the self-care and enjoyment of hobbies that don’t involve school.

However, summer activities are extremely important for college preparation. Ensure to engage in activities like a part-time job that will help you save up for college or college preparation, prepare for SAT/ACT exams by attending prep courses or exercise.

Look up possible scholarships, grants and other things that would make your future college life easier.

8. Apply to Internships

Apply to Internships

Summer can be useful for working on a part-time job to pay part of your future college tuition. However, what if there is a better option, the one that serves as a stepping stone in a career search. If you’re aiming for the associate’s degree or want to start working immediately after high school, opting for a good internship may be a good idea.

Internships exist in various fields, and if you’ve already gained some knowledge about a particular field of interest, that will be even more beneficial to your future career. Another perk of internship – some of them is paid!

9. Learn about different careers

Learn about different careers

We all know that the final goal of education is earning a respectable payment and pursuing a top-notch career for us. But, what are careers really? What careers are available to us? That’s something they don’t always teach at school and we have to teach ourselves.

While at school and summer vacation perform research about what careers may grab your attention, explore them, learn more about them, and message companies that could be willing to teach you more about them. Your school counselor may also educate you on different career options, although it’d be best to talk to people who already work what you’re interested in.

10. Make space for SAT/ACT exams

SAT-ACT exams


SAT and ACT exams are an important period in your education, so the best way to look into the process is as soon as possible.

As you progress through the high school, it’d be the best to take different preparation courses and preparation exams like PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10. They will help you determine where you stand and how much you should prepare. These exams nearly always come in junior years, although there are exceptions. One of the most important aspects of this examination also is the open options for scholarships.

Also Read: What Is a Good PSAT Score for a Freshman?

Wrapping up

As we pointed out, making proper four-year high school freshmen plan is of utmost importance for career and college pursuit. They help students stay on track and focus on what works best for their future.

Despite all, even with a decently-crafted school plan, students may have difficulties progressing through education. That’s why it’s important to polish daily habits too, live a healthy lifestyle and be happy with their surroundings.

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