How to Increase Your College Readiness

Take these steps to increase your college readiness

Flickr user Alysha Koby

We’ve done a post on what college readiness means. Now it’s time to address how to increase your college readiness so that you are as prepared as possible for your new life chapter. And remember, the skills that will get you by in college will also be used in the workplace. So maybe we should call it “life readiness” instead.

Improving Knowledge Readiness

Most of what we learn tends to fall into two categories: Use It or Lose It, and Like Riding a Bike (very technical, I know, but bear with me). Foreign languages and advanced math formulas are perfect examples of the former. If you do not consistently use that knowledge, you will likely forget what you have learned over time. At the very least, it will become more difficult to retrieve the information from your long-term memory. Therefore, it is important to keep this knowledge fresh in your mind if it’s something you are going to need in college.

If you enter into a higher level course right away, they are not going to spend much, if any, time reviewing information you should already know. Whether that’s chemistry formulas or how to conjugate verbs in German, not being able to remember your high school lessons will prove detrimental. Consider practicing over the summer or maybe reviewing any notes you took to refresh your memory.

The other important thing is to pay attention and really focus on the information you are learning. If you only ever study to pass a test, the knowledge will deteriorate over time. If you study with the mindset of truly learning something, it is more likely to stay in your memory for future use. Be interested in your high school classwork, as ideas and themes will continually pop up throughout your college career.

Improving Skills Readiness

Again, you should focus on learning skills to keep them, not just to pass a test or a class. When writing papers in high school, for example, you need to aim to do the best you possibly can rather than just enough to coast by. Writing skills are often a huge part of college programs; it pays to develop your style early on. Knowing how to read graphs and understand statistics is often a huge help, as you will run into them throughout college (some majors more than others). Knowing how to create a lab write-up and how to navigate research articles are also good skills to work on.

I could probably keep listing education-related skills all day. Likely the best option for you is to do some research on your chosen field (if you have one) and figure out which skills are necessary. That way you can hone them when you are in high school. Even if something doesn’t pertain to your field of study or work, you should consider gifting yourself with a set of skills that allows you to make informed decisions about your life.

Training yourself in time management, critical thinking, problem solving, etc., will help you in the long run. Transitioning from high school class schedule to college class schedule can be a large adjustment. Sometimes you feel you have all the time in the world to work on an assignment because you only have that class once a week. So work on finishing homework early. Try to think critically about the required reading in high school, and then work on communicating your thoughts about it.

Improving Behavior Readiness

One of the best ways to improve yourself here is getting organized. Staying organized requires effort. Are you keeping all the information for one class in the same place? Do you always know where to find something when you need it? Do whatever organization that works best for you when it comes to school. Figuring this out in high school will be to your benefit in college or at work. Organizing things can help reduce stress as it is a way to control your environment

Another way to improve this aspect is to assess how much work you do at home. For example, do you do your own laundry? Don’t laugh now; I have met quite a few people who did not know how to work a washing machine when they came to college. Do you take care of your dishes in a timely manner? Are you responsible for your messes at home? Some of you may be thinking, “Of course I am!” Good for you if that is so. If you are a little on the fence about how responsible you are, consider trying to do one thing around the house every day that puts things in order. There is a high likelihood that you are about to spend four years living with people who aren’t your family, and having courtesy toward those people is important. Know how to keep your living spaces clean because you don’t know what type of roommates you will get over the years. Being willing to work out rules together—and sticking to those rules—shows maturity, self-motivation, and demonstrates your ability to put effort into something.

Continue to use your self-motivation to start homework early instead of last minute. Self-motivation is key to completing any online coursework you might have, as well as working on those semester long projects without reminders from your professors. Make sure you give assignments your all whenever possible.

ACT / SAT Prep

Many colleges do rely on these test scores as an indication of college readiness, so make sure you put in the effort and study for them. Take the test multiple times in order to improve your scores. Take the tests seriously, because for about two years of high school they are important. However, don’t let your regular coursework suffer because of them. Your high school GPA and class rank show schools your dedication as well. If you can demonstrate a commitment to education while doing extracurricular activities, even better.

Learn Self Care

Obviously schoolwork is important. It allows you to get into the colleges that you want so you can work toward your career. But one of the most important things in getting ready for college is learning how to read yourself. Only ever doing schoolwork does not usually a happy student make. Know your limits: Learn what you need to do to recharge. Your mental health plays an important part in keeping you motivated for school and work, and helps to keep you physically healthy as well. Figure out what keeps you happy as you do homework. Make time for friends when you can. Take stock of what rituals you have that are important to you (i.e., reading a book, going to church, working out, etc.) so that way you can practice implementing them when you go to college.

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