Preparing for College in High School

Preparation for college begins at the start of your high school career, and can be essential in paving the way for the rest of your life. With a little foresight, you can maintain focus along the way and provide yourself the best chance at getting accepted to your dream school. They key is to plan ahead, get organized, and follow through. When it’s finally time to start the search, it’s normal to start out with many colleges that sound appealing, but ideally you will want to narrow it down to pinpoint your focus. Spreading your resources cautiously and mindfully is the best thing you can do to increase your chances of getting in early. However, the application process can be daunting if you don’t have a resume worth promoting. There are a few things you can do at the start to make sure getting into college is less stressful and more exciting!

Maintain a good GPA

It might seem far ahead in the future, but preparing for college actually starts with your freshman year at high school. Monitoring your grades and ensuring you’re not just taking “easy A” classes increases your options later and adds a lot of credibility to your college application when the time comes. Teachers are your most valuable allies throughout these years as they can provide you with feedback on areas that need more attention, motivate you to pursue your goals, and write helpful recommendation letters.

Diversify

High school is the time to try out new things and find hobbies that can help you build up your college resume. Do you have a melodic voice that belongs in the choir? Is there a musical instrument you’d like to learn how to play? These are activities that can actually contribute a great amount to your college resume. Extracurricular activities are what separates you from the rest of the applicants and paint a picture of your personality, which makes you a more attractive recruit.

Don’t hesitate to try out new things, but avoid taking up too many extracurricular activities as this may cause you to waste resources and end up confused about what is most important or impressive. Do what you like, and do what speaks to you.

Balancing your schedule

High school may be the time when you’re at your peak physically and mentally, but finding the time for rest and peace is essential to your performance. Pushing yourself to the limit may cause you to burn out quickly and make it difficult to cope with the stress of juggling school, college applications and a social life. Challenging yourself is great to keep you motivated and focused on the end goal, but that doesn’t mean you should be sacrificing time to give your mind and body a well-deserved rest. Remember – an overworked brain does not operate at maximum efficiency and exhaustion can slowly but surely add up.

Summer-izing

As a high school student you have one significant advantage you should be sure to utilize to its full potential, and that’s the summer vacation! Most people overlook the fact that this is an ideal time to spend extra time on their college resume and skill building. While it’s not reasonable for you to give up your entire summer in pursuit of academic excellence, it might be a good idea to consider volunteering, picking up a summer class or concentrating on a particular subject or activity you wish to develop. These are all things that work as long-term investments towards your future and might tip the scale in your favor when the time comes to start applying.

Do a few test runs

Most students leave the exam-taking part for the very last, relying on the notion that they’re fully prepared and the results will show that. Unfortunately, performance on an exam is a combination of a variety of factors, some of which have nothing to do with how much you’ve read and how well you know your material. Some students are so nervous when being tested that they simply can’t do their best. For these students, it may take a few attempts to come away with a performance reflective of their best abilities. It’s always a good idea, regardless of how well you think you’re prepared, to take the SATs or the PSAT a few times as you get closer to applying for college. Nothing else will provide better experience or give a more accurate impression of what is expected of you.

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