Moving on to college after high school is one of the biggest changes in a student’s life. So it’s never too early to prepare for it, even if you’re just a freshman in high school.
The early bird gets the worm, and the school of your choice. Don’t wait until your senior year to get the ball rolling. Research prospective schools, their entrance tests, and financial aid options sooner than later.
Plan to visit college campuses to get a feel for your options. Start with colleges near you. And even if you’re interested in schools that aren’t in your backyard, you can check a campus through cyberspace. Visit the websites of schools that you’re interested in. You can also attend college fairs to meet admission representatives and obtain course catalogs. It’s a great way to speak face-to-face with the people who know best. But if at all possible, visit campuses in person to get a firsthand experience of the schools’ culture.
Get Involved in the Community
tutoringShow that you have a passionate interest - and involvement - in extracurricular activities. It’s a fantastic way to demonstrate leadership skills. However, remember that college admission officers look at your grades and course choices first.
Depth, not breadth, of experience is most important. Community service gives your prospective colleges a glimpse into your character, not just your level of intellect. If you already have an idea of what you are interested in studying in college, maybe you can do something related. Work in a non-profit legal office if you’re interested in law; tutor children if you’re interested in teaching; volunteer at a hospital if you’re interested in becoming a nurse or doctor.
You can also think about doing something that will give you good leadership skills, or reflect well on your character. Lead a summer camp, or volunteer for a charity.
Prepare to Take the SAT and/or ACT
Accredited colleges will often insist on seeing a score from the SAT or ACT. The SAT is meant to evaluate your ability to reason out a problem and to think logically, whereas the ACT test is meant to test actual knowledge. These scores can play a role in determining which scholarships you qualify for and at which college you will be accepted.
Nowadays, the test is used in combination with a variety of factors including grades, GPA, community service, extracurricular activities, club activity, leadership roles, jobs held and your admissions essay.
There are a couple ways you can prepare for the SAT. You can do sample SAT questions online, or you can take the PSAT (Preliminary SAT), which is a great way to do a trial run before you take on the real test. Ask your school counselor about services that offer ACT and SAT preparation classes and practice tests. It’s very important to make sure you keep track of the dates and deadlines for the tests. You don’t want to let them accidentally pass you by! The Princeton Review SAT study guide is also worth the roughly $20 investment.
Take Advanced Placement Classes
While getting an A is great, the level of difficulty is significant as well. Take honor-level and advanced placement courses whenever possible.
Advanced placement (AP) classes are college level courses taught to high school students. Not only do these classes prepare you for college, but they may even count as class credits at the college level.
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