Common College Prep Mistakes for Students to Avoid

Here are some common college preparation mistakes high school students make.

Flickr user Garrett W

When you’re in your junior and senior years of high school, college preparation is becoming more important than ever. Many high school students make college preparation mistakes when it comes to this stage in their education, so here are some of the more common pitfalls to avoid.

Waiting Too Long To Start

Waiting too long to start your college preparation is one of the most common mistakes high school students make and it can have some serious consequences down the line. When you start falling behind, it can take a lot of time and energy to catch up.

Students should be first making a list of majors and colleges they’re interested in, researching them, and really looking into the ones that catch their eye as early as possible. Students should also be visiting the colleges and writing down deadlines for the applications during their junior year at the latest. If you wait, you could be handing in applications last minute or not at all. You need time to gather the necessary documents, ask for letters of recommendation from teachers, and write your college essays. Waiting until the last minute is never advisable.

Not Studying for the PSAT, SAT, or ACT

While you may get by, or even get straight A’s, even though you don’t study for tests in high school, the PSAT, SAT, and ACT require extra attention. The PSAT is a version of the SAT that you take in your junior year. Although it doesn’t always have a direct bearing on your college applications, it can actually earn you a scholarship if you score high enough.

The SAT and ACT do have a direct bearing on many of your college applications. These test scores can have a negative effect on your overall acceptance chances if you don’t do well. It’s important to create a study schedule, take practice tests, and review your weaker areas for all three of these exams.

Not Applying for Scholarships

It’s easy to review the scholarships that are available in your high school counselor’s office and believe that’s all there is to apply for. And if you aren’t eligible for them, it can be disheartening. But those aren’t your only options! Many juniors and seniors make the mistake of thinking there are none they can apply for or that they just don’t have a chance in winning.

In fact, finding scholarships is easier than ever. Thanks to online scholarship databases, you can find awards for just about any aspect of life and education. Try searching for awards under your major, your minor, your interests or hobbies, your location, your college, or even the color of your hair (seriously!). And many scholarships actually have very few people apply, so your chances of winning are even higher.

Starting as soon as you can is one of the best ways to avoid all of these mistakes that are common for high school juniors and seniors. If you need help, make sure to ask your counselor for assistance.

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