How High School Students Can Start Preparing for CollegeOctober 13, 2022
High school students have a long to-do list when prepping for college. You need to think about everything from maintaining your grades and where you’ll attend to preparing applications and paying for school.
Preparing for college in high school can seem overwhelming, but breaking things down into steps can make the process easier. Here are nine things you can do to get college-ready as a high school student.
Determine if you want to go to college
While attending college is part of the plan for many high schoolers, it’s not the right path for everyone. The first step of college preparation for high school students is determining if they want to attend college or not. Alternatively, you might opt to learn a trade, take coding courses, start working full-time when you graduate, and more.
Aim high with your classes
Focusing on keeping your grades up in high school is good practice, no matter what path you choose. Even if studying and homework aren’t your favorites, making the time to do both is essential. You may also want to challenge yourself and take some advanced placement (AP) courses in a subject you enjoy. And if you have an idea of what you’d like to major in, consider taking classes related to that field.
Find a mentor
Do you have a favorite coach, teacher, or counselor? Consider asking if they’d mentor you or offer advice as you prep for college. A trusted mentor can provide valuable guidance on everything from which courses you should take to how to narrow down your choices when you’re applying to colleges.
Keep up with your activities
Whether in sports, clubs, band, or another activity, keeping up with these extracurriculars will look good on your college applications. Doing so will show that you’re determined, motivated, and effective at time management. Just make sure you’re doing things you enjoy.
Consider test prep
While the ACT or SAT are optional for some schools, many still require that you include your college applications. A test preparation course can help you prepare for these tests and improve your high score. Some schools even offer ACT and SAT prep courses are part of their curriculum.
Take the ACT or SAT
The next step after taking a prep course is taking the test. Taking the ACT or SAT in your junior year is common, but you can do so earlier if you choose. If you don’t score as highly as you would like the first time, you can take the test again. SAT registration is $55 for 2022, and ACT registration is $63 (no writing) or $88 (with writing). Fee waivers may be available if you can’t afford registration costs. Each test takes around three hours.
Schedule college visits
Start scheduling college visits if you have an idea of which schools you might want to attend. Many high schoolers do this in the summer between junior and senior years. Visiting colleges will give you a sense of whether or not the school feels like a fit for you. It’ll also help you narrow down your choices.
Work on applications
Deadlines for college applications vary, so researching deadlines for different schools where you’ll be applying is important college prep for high school students. In general, it’s a good idea to start applying for college either the summer before your senior year or that fall. Remember, you may need to make time to write personal essays, so applying in the summer when you won’t have tests or homework can be a smart idea.
Look into student loans
Many students need help paying for college, so consider looking into financial aid and scholarships early. Generally, you’ll start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You don’t need to know which college you’ll attend to do the FAFSA; you can simply list all the colleges you’ve applied to or are considering. Private student loans are also worth researching if federal, institutional, and third-party financial aid isn’t enough.
If you’re wondering how to prepare for college in high school, the process can seem like a lot. But taking it step-by-step will help you feel less overwhelmed and more prepared. Consider making a checklist of tasks and creating a rough schedule of when you’ll tackle each item on your to-do list. Checking off items on your list as you complete them can help you stay motivated and on task.