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Office of Undergraduate Admissions


Students on USC's historic horseshoe

9th Grade

It's not too early to start thinking about college. Ninth grade is a great time to form good habits and plans for the future. Here are five ways to get started. 

Select three dream schools.

Visit Big Future to compare up to three universities in terms of location, type, campus life, admissions, cost and financial aid. Select the criteria that are most important to you, and if you can, take a virtual tour. It's never too early to get a feel for each campus. 

Get involved.

Get involved in two or three clubs or organizations that you find interesting. If you can't find one that interests you, start your own! It's a great way to pursue what interests you. Don't forget to look outside your school and explore different volunteer opportunities.

Develop study skills.

Finding a way to efficiently study can be a daunting task, but your grades will reflect your hard work. Using a planner is very important in aiding time management. Color coding and concept maps are great tools for visual learners. Flash cards are a convenient study tool because they allow you to study anywhere. 

Consider your paths. 

Begin to think about topics that interest you and how. Find professionals within a field and conduct an informational interview to explore your passions. Summer vacations are an excellent time to shadow. Career fairs and online surveys can help you narrow your options. 

Develop a budget.

As you gather information on colleges and universities, it is important to make note of cost estimates and financial aid options. These will become crucial when it comes to decision time. But the good news is college is affordable if you know your options. Use College Board to search for merit-based scholarships.