Is it time to start college preparations? There’s quite a few steps you’ll need to take to be ready to apply, get acceptance letters, and attend! Check out these must-know steps:
Pick Your Classes – Consider Academic Rigor
College preparations start in high school. Your junior and senior classes can actually have a big impact on your college options and acceptance. You want to take courses that will challenge you, but not overwhelm you. Picking too easy of courses to boost your GPA won’t earn you kudos.
You may also have the option to get a head-start on your college experience. Many schools offer college level courses or AP classes, which look great to colleges and could also allow you to take higher level courses during your freshman year.
Take Your ACT/SAT
Another step you can’t skip is taking the ACT or SAT (or both). This is still required by many colleges and universities, so you’ll need to study, take practice exams, and take the test a few times to score your best. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of the SAT and ACT to see which exam is right for your strengths.
Build a College List
You’ll also need to start building a list of colleges that suit your needs and wants. You’ll need to think about things beyond the intended major too, and consider the campus, the surrounding area, class sizes, the reputation of the school and teacher, the students, job opportunities after graduation, and more. A pro and con list can come in handy here, allowing you to weed out schools that don’t fit what you want.
Visit the Colleges
Once you have a pretty strong list of colleges, you’ll need to actually visit the schools. This will allow you to get a feel for the campus, students, and more. Ask questions if you can too. You should talk to the tour guide, but also alumni and other students if possible.
Take Part in Extracurriculars
Extracurriculars and sports can look great to colleges on an application. This could be volunteering, clubs at school, or local sports teams. Take part in activities that interest you and help you grow as a person.
Complete College Applications
When you complete college applications depends on your wants. You may want to apply for early action or early decision if you’re positive which school you’d like to attend, but you might also want to wait until regular decision to apply. Either way, you need to have your applications done ahead of time so you can avoid any potential issues (like the website submit button not working last minute).
Apply for Financial Aid
Even if you think you don’t qualify, you should always check into FAFSA and other financial aid options. This application is free and takes just a small bit of time. You may be surprised at the offers you receive, and this application can also be used by your school to grant you additional resources.
Apply to Scholarships
Same with financial aid, it never hurts to apply to scholarships. There are plenty out there that are grade or academic based, but also ones for people with red hair, weird hobbies, and other things that help them stand out. Scholarship databases are a great place to start your search as they will help you find the ones that best fit your wants and interests. Often times, the smaller, more unique ones, don’t have many applicants, so your chances of winning improves.
These are just a few of the tasks you’ll need to complete in order to get ready for college preparations. To make sure you’re on track, talk with your guidance counselor so they can go over all your needs with you.
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