Written by Kara Goldenhorn
College is the first step into adult life that determines one’s future, and waiting for it can sometimes become a nerve-racking experience.
Parents and high schoolers might be looking for answers to these questions:
Which college should I apply to?
Am I good enough for this college?
Will I pass the entrance exams?
How do I begin planning for college?
What smaller things am I missing to get ready for college?
These and other questions may be bothering you, but you can avoid such thoughts if you start preparing for college while still in high school, and not at the last minute. Actually, it is never too early to start doing it.
In this article, we will explain how to prepare for college step-by-step and share some useful tips for future freshmen.
How To Prepare for College
1. Get to know your counselor
The first step when getting ready for college is meeting with your high school counselor in your freshman year. This person will be supporting you through the next four years. They will ask you about your career plans and goals. Draft a plan of realistic choices that you feel confident doing. But be aware that your career plans can change in the course of study, so do not fully concentrate on a specific path. Your plans should be more fluid in these early stages.
2. Study your college degree requirements
Many colleges first focus on standard subjects, such as history, math, literature, and science. After that, an emphasis is placed on higher technical degrees with more specific subjects, depending on the student’s goals.
3. Work with your counselor to create a four-year school schedule
Define which school courses you should take and pass while keeping in mind the specific degree that you are going to pursue. Again, you’re preparing for college from day one, but nothing is set in stone. This schedule can be adjusted over time.
4. Take part in extracurricular activities
Colleges value people who actively participated in extracurricular activities while planning for college. Therefore, it is important to find the activity that suits you best. One option is to apply for pre-college summer programs.
5. Apply for internships
This is an optional step but it can be very helpful if you get such an opportunity. Internships are glimpses into possible career paths and maybe even your own professional future.
6. Practice your note taking skills when preparing for college
In a college, the number of students attending a lecture can be four times greater than in a high school classroom. Therefore, it would be wise to adjust your listening and note taking skills as early as possible, as the professor will talk quickly and will not usually repeat lessons.
Many college students use their smartphones to record the lectures, but such activity can drain the battery of a smartphone very quickly or require hours of transcribing, so being able to take notes during a lecture is valuable.
7. Develop writing skills and take every writing assignment seriously
Term papers can teach you how to do research and use the research tools, such as library and proper internet resources. If your writing and researching skills are top notch, you can look at every writing assignment as a guaranteed A.
8. Develop time management skills
Keep a computer file where you record how you are using your time. Try to dedicate specific amounts of time to study only, for example, 30-40 minutes, and then gradually increase those amounts so you end up with 60-90 minutes.
This will also help you determine timelines for coursework. If you’ve tracked your time and know how long it takes to complete a certain assignment, you will know how much time you need to allot for similar work. This will not only help to improve your grades, but also prepare you for the heavier course load and more in depth work you will be doing once in your college of choice.
9. Develop speaking skills
Speak up in class even if it’s something you’re not totally comfortable with. Make notes about what you want to say before you raise your hand in order to overcome reluctance to speak up in class.
10. Start researching colleges
Prepare for college by learning about its requirements and prerequisites. If the college is far away from where you live, you should also plan your residential needs. Are you planning to rent an apartment with your friends or reside on campus? How much will it cost? Check out this article for more info on how to choose a college.
You should also think about the cost of your studies. Colleges and universities typically define their tuition fees based on the amount of credits that you are planning to take. There are also special courses that have their own payments.
Finally, you should plan your costs for learning materials. Unlike high school where books are provided to you as part of tuition, each college professor requires you to get specific textbooks and other necessary materials. The cost of books may appear to be higher than you expected, but you can purchase used books from upperclassmen as well as get them for free from your friends or siblings.
11. Start preparing for tests
Many high schools require that you take tests such as PSAT/ACT/SAT either in your junior or senior year, and most colleges accept at least one of them as a requirement. This is one of the most important moments to consider when getting ready for college.
12. Visit college campuses of your top choices in your junior year
Learn how to get around the buildings, parking areas, any housing placements, etc. Some colleges offer tours around their premises, so take advantage of such tours.
13. Start applying to colleges of your choice early in your senior year
Avoid colleges that do not meet your goals and experiences. Most colleges have application deadlines, so make sure that you have everything ready. This is the time to prove on paper to them why you wish to attend the college, what activities you have done, etc.
Planning for College Is All About Preparation
Now you have a better understanding of how to get ready for college and what you need to do before moving onto college from high school. We also hope that our article has inspired you to start acting and make first steps towards your dream. Good luck!