The end of July heralds the beginning of thoughts of the new academic year and a continual progression of commercials for “back to school” sales.  For those entering as high school freshmen, this can be a daunting time, as they transition from  middle school to secondary school.   They will have more choices in their academic studies and more responsibilities to organize their time well.  So, how important is this initial high school year?  

According to a study published in 2017 by the University of Chicago Consortium, ninth grade GPA (grade point average) can provide an accurate prediction of college success.  Researchers analyzed the freshman-year grades of 187,335 students who were first-time freshmen  in Chicago public schools from 2006 to 2013.  They found a correlation between students’ strong academic performance  as ninth graders and their performance later in high school.  In addition, their freshman year grades related to grades later in high school, as well as the likelihood that they graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education.

Perhaps not surprising, the study also indicated that students enrolled in honors classes received higher grades than those in non-honors classes, even when the honors classes did not provide “weighted” grades. (Providing extra points for the level of difficulty of a class). 

Some colleges and universities are eschewing standardized tests in favor of relying on students’ high school transcripts.  Thus, establishing good time management and study skills early in high school can have positive  results not only for that initial year, but for future secondary and post-secondary study as well. So, students would be wise to prepare themselves now for the beginning of the school year by goal setting, organizing, and reading.