Why College Prep Should Start in 9th Grade

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When looking for a best-fit high school for our children, we are not only thinking about the here-and-now, but also how the choice will impact the college admissions process down the road. We want to know that our children will build the skills in high school that will then provide the most opportunity for them in higher education.

At Bennett Day School, we believe in providing every Upper School student, beginning in freshman year, with the right tools and experiences to be successful in their college search and beyond.

That’s why Bennett Day Upper School is partnering with IvyWise and Academic Approach to provide college counseling and test preparation to all students.

Though 9th grade is not the time to stress about intensive test prep, college enrollment decisions, financial aid, etc., it is not too soon for students to set goals that will help keep them on the right path toward future college admissions success.

Beginning in 9th grade, IvyWise counselors meet with Bennett Day Upper School students to better understand their interests and learning profiles, as well as potential college preferences. These early conversations help inform blended learning course decisions, extracurricular involvement, and other skill-building recommendations. As the high school years pass, these cumulative conversations will serve as a basis for informed Junior and Senior year application and enrollment decisions. 

As an organization, IvyWise couldn’t agree more with starting the process early: 

Most high school students don’t start planning for college or working with their college counselor until the spring of junior year, which is often too late to make any significant adjustments in order to better develop their interests and, in turn, enhance their applicant profiles. Colleges look at all four years of academics, extracurriculars, and more when evaluating applicants – so starting college prep in 9th grade is critical. It allows students time to explore and develop their interests and learn more about who they are and what they might want to study when it does come time to apply to college. They’re also able to plan academic and extracurricular paths to set them up for successful outcomes, including increasing difficulty coursework each year. Starting college prep in 9th grade helps to alleviate the stress commonly associated with the college admissions process, as students are working towards the goal of college admissions over all four years of high school rather than trying to accomplish it all in one or two semesters. In the end, students will benefit from starting earlier because they’ll be more focused, have the information they need, and will be confident that they’ve done all they can to have the best chance for admission at a great-fit college. —IvyWise

IvyWise-vs-College-Admission-Rates (1)(Pictured Above: IvyWise Five-Year Average Acceptance Rates)

91% of IvyWise students were accepted to one or more of their top-three choice schools in 2018.

Though intensive test prep is not recommended in 9th grade, it is not too soon for students to begin familiarizing themselves with the structure of standardized tests and what skills they may need to acquire for more successful test prep down the line. Academic Approach will also consult with Bennett Day Upper School students to begin this process early in high school so that there are no true surprises when testing time comes.  


(Pictured Below: Academic Approach Avg. Score Improvement)


Learn more about the early college counseling process from the IvyWise blogs below:

The Truth About College Prep: Why Students Should Start Early

Freshmen: Plant the Seeds for College Prep Now

Working With Your College Counselor: When to Start and What to Expect

It’s Never Too Early to Start Planning: Top College Prep Tips from Former Admission Officers

8th Grade College Counseling: Why More Students Are Starting College Prep Earlier

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