Starting With the End in Mind: The 9th Grade College Planning Workshop


Over 100 Northridge 9th graders and parents participated in Thursday night’s college planning workshop with Mr. Barder.  The workshop, entitled “The High School Years: A Game Plan for Accomplishment,” helped students understand how to maximize their college choice options and become the kind of young men for whom great colleges are looking. 

The event also helped our 9th graders develop a personal preparation plan for key application categories that colleges will be evaluating.  These categories are:

  • The Academic Transcript. Students learned that colleges hold in high regard Northridge’s challenging curriculum, with all of its Honors and AP-level coursework, and that the grades students receive in their individual classes and the resulting cumulative grade point average – or ‘GPA’ – make up the most important factor in colleges’ review of their eventual applications.   
  • Standardized Test Scores. Topics covered included: the current landscape of standardized testing, similarities and differences between the ACT and SAT, preparation strategies for these examinations, and information and anecdotes about how Northridge students’ success on these exams has been associated with acceptances and scholarships at a variety of colleges with competitive admissions standards. The new ‘Digital SAT,’ which will roll out starting with the Class of 2025, was also previewed. 
  • Co-Curricular Activities. Students reviewed the form they will need to complete as a high school senior to reflect their involvement in clubs, sports, volunteer work, and other activities.  They learned the importance of making and keeping commitments, taking on increasing levels of responsibility over time, and demonstrating initiative, leadership, and a spirit of service.
  • Letters of Recommendation. Colleges like to envision what kind of presence in the classroom applicants might have, and recommendation letters provide them with valuable information.  Students learned of the importance of their efforts to cultivate their love of learning, to turn in high-quality work, and to make strong contributions in classroom discussions.  
  • College Application Essays. Students reviewed several of the most common college application essay prompts, heard anecdotes of past students’ thoughtful and creative essay work, and learned the importance of giving special attention to their written expression during their high school years.

The event culminated with Mr. Barder staging a fun, mock admissions exercise in which students and their parents made decisions by committee on college applicants as they reviewed the applicants’ accomplishments in all of the above-mentioned categories.  Go Knights!


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