Secondary Education Academic Activities and Resources

General Tips:

  • Remember that grades are subjective. What was “good” or “poor” to you/ your family may not be the same for your mentee.
  • Don’t expect your mentee to be comfortable telling you their exact grades. Instead, try to understand where your mentee is by asking what subjects they are proud of their work in and which classes they want to improve in. This takes the focus off the grades and on the effort.
  • Look up your mentee’s academic calendar on their school website. When do progress reports come out? When does a term end or start? Mark these on your calendar as times to check in or give words of encouragement. For example: “New term starts today, I know you will rock it!” or “End of term is next week! Would it be helpful for us to have a study outing at the library this weekend?”

Helpful Work Sheets for you and your Mentee/Little:

We suggest speaking with your Match Support Coordinator or Mentor2.0 Program Coordinator on how to best implement these tools with your mentee/ Little.
Aspen/Assignment Check In: This worksheet supports a class-by-class strategy for setting goals, finding missing assignments and making a weekly to-do list.
Academic Intervention Plan: This worksheet is designed to go together with the Goal Setting worksheet above by supporting strategies, action steps, and mentorship support.

Understanding schools:

Community Resources for Academic Support:

  • The Homework Assistance Program (HAP)- free after-school service led by teen mentors that offers homework help, mentorship, and activities for students in grades K–8. Join in person or online.
  • ExtraHelp–  a weekly, live, homework hotline television series providing help to Boston students. Elementary, middle, and high school students can watch the show and call or email ExtraHelp teachers to receive help with their homework, help clarify a problem they may be having in a particular subject or prepare for MCAS and SAT tests.
  • 826 Boston – writing, tutoring, and publishing organization where students in grades K-12 and beyond can share their stories, amplify their voices, and develop as leaders in school and in life.

Post-Secondary Planning Academic Activities and Resources:

  • Career Quiz help your mentee/Little explore their career interests, learn about hourly wage, and post-secondary education requirements.

Resume Building Support

  • College Campus Visit/Tour Checklist
  • With your Mentee/Little explore the tools based on local data developed by NextGen Talent. These tools will support your Mentee/Little in understanding local labor market literacy and into a well-paying first post-secondary job.
    * Support your Little/Mentee with targeting occupations that pay a living wage by looking at this Living Wage Calculator together.
    * Work together with your Mentee/Little to identify career matches between interest and career opportunities in the local market by using the “Where are the good jobs in Boston?” Tool.
    * Explore the Navigator Tool together to find career-focused postsecondary programs in Greater Boston.  Navigator is a first-of-its-kind tool in the US. It contains an online, searchable directory of 140+ career-focused postsecondary programs in Greater Boston, providing detailed information on technical and professional programs, including outcomes (e.g., program completion and employment rates), tips for admission, keys to success, and Boston metro area wages.

Financial Aid Support Resources:

  • FAFSA Support: uAspire provides free individual support or group training on Financial Aid topics.
  • Financial Aid Appeals: SwiftStudent will help determine if you are eligible for an appeal and write a financial aid appeal letter – for free

Tools for Mentors:

  • Growth Mind-set Tool Kit/ Training for Mentors– Learn about the growth mindset and how to apply it to many of the challenges that youth and mentors face.
  • Praise the process, not the person– Check out this video to learn about different types of praise and how to impact success in your Mentee/Little! Information is by The Project for Education Research that Scales (PERTS), a research center in the psychology department at Stanford University.

Post Secondary Access Programs

  • Bottom Line: Bottom Line partners with degree-aspiring students of color from under-resourced communities to get into and through college and successfully launch a career.  Beginning in junior or senior year of high school, students visit their offices to begin meeting with a Bottom Line advisor. Students share their interests, aspirations, academic history, and family circumstances. Through a series of one-on-one meetings, Bottom Line’s full-time college advisors help each high school senior navigate the complex and intimidating college application process. Apply to Bottom Line Programs here! 
  • Let’s Get Ready: Let’s Get Ready envisions a future in which students from historically underrepresented backgrounds have the support they need to attain a college education. Their program supports students through three phases of Access, Transition, and Success. Outcomes include increase SAT Scores, Submittal of college applications, and graduation from college. Sign up for Let’s Get Ready here.
  • Breakthrough Greater Boston (BTGB): BTGB is a year-round, tuition-free program that offers six years of academically intensive out-of-school time services to highly motivated, traditionally underserved middle and high school students in greater Boston. Apply to Breakthrough Greater Boston Programs here.
  • Connected Futures: With Connected Futures, students sign up for one of three lesson plans, adapted for middle school, high school, or college students. Each curriculum is designed to help students build social support given their unique developmental stage, and includes four, interactive online lessons that students can move through at their own pace. Sign up for High School Courses here. Sign up for Middle School Courses here. 


9th GRADE  |  10th GRADE  |  11th GRADE  |  12 GRADE

General College Timeline:

9th Grade:

Be active in your school or local community! Exploring extracurricular activities and opportunities will support understanding what skills and interests you enjoy. Extracurricular activities can be used on your resume. College admissions offices and hiring departments appreciate applicants with extracurricular achievements.
Focus on classes! Grades and GPA are a leading factor in which colleges will be an option and what scholarships are available. Focus on orienting into the high school learning environment.
Practice your self-advocacy and building your support network. Who are the staff or teachers at high school you can go to if you are struggling? Who cares about your success? Who do you feel comfortable talking to?

10th Grade:

Challenge yourself with AP or Dual Enrollment classes. Once again, grades and GPA are a big factor in this process.

Stay involved with extra-curricular activities and consider a leadership position. Or try new extra-curricular activities! Continue self-exploration of your skills and interests.
Take MCAS seriously. There are many scholarships that are awarded from MCAS and passing will free up more of your time junior or senior year instead of taking them again.

11th Grade:

Junior year grades are some of the most important in high school. This is a time to make a change if needed or show that you are pushing yourself. Challenge yourself with AP or Dual Enrollment classes.
Know your GPA! Based on your GPA research Reach, Target and Likely colleges.
Get to know your teachers! These are the teachers who you will be asking for recommendation letters later in junior year or early senior year.
Take your PSAT as practice and to understand where you need to practice. Sign up for Khan Academy with your scores for personalized support.
Create a college list of 6-10 colleges that fit your needs and you plan to apply to senior year.
Start your college essay by looking at the essay topics and drafting your essay.
Ask 2 teachers to write you a letter of recommendation for college. This may seem early but senior year, many students will be asking at once and your letter can get less attention. Asking early provides teachers the time to make your recommendation perfect.
Take the SAT.
Search for scholarships and start applying.
Go on in-person or virtual college visits.
Write a first draft of your college essay.
Search for scholarships and start applying.

12th grade:
Finalize your college list. Research if those colleges use the Common Application or another application.
Share this list with your guidance counselor so that they can send your transcript to the schools.
Remind your teachers about your letter of recommendation.
Finalize your college essay.
October 1st the FAFSA opens. Fill this out before December. Money is first come, first serve.
Apply for your 4-year college options before January 1st.
Check your email every day! If applications are incomplete or you are selected for FAFSA renewal, you need to complete the actions in those emails as soon as possible.
Community College Applications open! Always apply to at least one community college.
Wait for acceptance letters! Come up with a plan for if you are disappointed. Who can you talk to when you receive a letter? Who will be supportive? Who will help you create a plan?
Compare financial aid award letters so that you understand your financial commitment.
Pay your deposit by May 1st.
Complete more scholarship applications!
Your college will have multiple items for you to complete including but not limited to:
Accept your financial aid
Register and attend orientation
Complete placement exams
Complete Housing Forms
Submit IEP Documents
Meet your Academic Advisor
Register for Classes
Submit immunization forms
Confirm or waive health insurance
And more! Check your email EVERY DAY!