If you’re in high school, chances are, you’ve already given some thought to what you’ll do once you graduate… will you get a job, travel abroad, go to college? What career will you choose? With all of these questions floating around, it might be a little daunting to think about what you’ll need to do to prep for college, if that’s the path you choose. Oh, sweetie, no worries… I can help! I’ve been down that road for myself, and for my daughter, so I’m old hat. Here are 7 ways to prep for college.
1. Think about What You Want to Study
Before you can start thinking about where you want to study, you need to start thinking about WHAT you want to study. It’s important to at least have an industry in mind (medicine, the arts, business, teaching) because so many colleges and universities have specialized curriculums. While you don’t need to choose an exact major, you do need to at least think of a field or an industry.
2. Think about Where You Want to Go
Now that you know what you want to study, you can start researching which college or university you may want to attend. Once you’ve chosen the schools you want to consider, find out which community colleges they partner with, so you can start there (it’s an excellent idea to start at community college, but that’s a whole other article). You don’t have to choose one school yet, just a field of three or four.
3. Take the ACT
Once you have your list of 3 or 4 universities you want to attend, find out what your ACT score needs to be to get accepted at them, then study for a bit and take the ACT. Don’t feel you need to ace it the first time you take it, either. Take it as many times as you need to, until you get a score you’re happy with.
4. Keep Your Grades up
Even if you plan to start your college career at community college, you’ll need to keep your high school grades up. You don’t need to maintain straight A’s, but try to keep at least a 3.0 or 3.2 grade point average. The higher your GPA, the better your chances of getting accepted to the college or university of your choice.
5. Enroll in Extras
It’s also important to be active in at least one or two extracurricular activities. Colleges and universities will look at how you’ve chosen to spend your spare time when deciding whether or not to admit you to one of their programs. If you work a part-time job, that counts, too. Make sure the extras you participate in relate to your field of study, too. If you’re going to pre-med, for instance, doing a cosmetology course won’t be helpful.
6. Look at the Costs
Before you even apply to college or university, you must figure out how much it will cost for tuition and books, then find out how you’ll pay for it. Do you already have a college savings fund? Will you qualify for scholarships and other financial aid? Or will you have to take out student loans? Be aware that nearly all scholarships and grants are awarded based on financial need, not so much merit or GPA, so if your parents are middle income, you are not likely to qualify, no matter how good your grades are.
7. Ask for Help
If you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed, or have questions, there are people at every college and university, and at your high school, whose job it is to help guide you. Look on the college or university websites for contact information for the counseling or academic advising staff, and call them! It’s their job to help you, and you’ll find them to be, well, helpful!
Now that you’ve finished this check-list, even if it’s just in your head, and not on paper, don’t you feel a little better? None of these decisions has to be made in stone quite yet, so mull it over for a few weeks, and in the meantime, think about prom instead! Or maybe you’ve already graduated, and are on your way to college… if so, do you have any other college prep tips to share?
Top Photo Credit: Vancouver Island University