If a college degree is your goal, then preparing for it should be an important part of your high school experience. There are many ways to prepare for college, and it is never too early or late to start working on them.
1. Develop a strong academic profile.
As you move through your freshman year, focus on taking challenging classes and participating in extracurricular activities. This will help you develop the problem-solving skills and maturity needed for college. It will also give you a chance to explore your interests and passions, which can be helpful when it comes time to apply for schools.
2. Create a document to record and organize college information.
As senior year approaches, you’ll want to begin narrowing your list of colleges. Creating a document to record acceptance criteria, deadlines, and other important information will make it easier for you to stay organized and keep track of your application process to this. This will also be useful as you ask teachers and mentors to write letters of recommendation. Make sure you have a place to record these as they come in and don’t forget to follow up to ensure your recommenders receive the letters by the submission deadline.
3. Begin developing study habits.
One of the biggest challenges for students going to college is adjusting to studying and exam expectations. College courses often have more content and denser exams, so it is important to develop strong study habits in high school. This will help you succeed in your college classes and avoid stressful, last-minute cram sessions.
4. Attend all of your classes and lectures, even if you don’t feel like it.
While this may seem obvious, it is a key factor in your success at college. Professors will appreciate that you are dedicated to their course and will often provide extra help outside of class, including office hours. This is also a great way to build relationships with your professors, which can be useful when it comes to asking for recommendations or seeking out jobs after graduation.
5. Take note-taking seriously.
College courses are designed to teach you the necessary skills for your future career, so it’s critical to pay attention in all of your classes. This will help you understand the material and remember it better on examinations. It will also allow you to learn and recall information more quickly, which is essential in the workplace. A plan like this will help you not only now but also in the future.
6. Get familiar with financial aid forms and procedures.
Colleges are increasingly requiring applicants to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, as well as state-specific versions. This will help you determine your family’s financial contribution and can be used to apply for grants, loans, and scholarships. You’ll also need to be familiar with your school’s financial aid policies and procedures, so be sure to talk to your guidance counselor about the specifics of your situation.
Transitioning from high school to college can be a big change for many students, especially if they are moving away from home for the first time. Those who make an effort to prepare early and stay on top of their game in the classroom and beyond will be much more likely to have a positive college experience and be successful in their future careers.