How to Prepare Yourself for a College Education

The four years you spend in High School may seem like plenty of time to get ready, but trust me, they will be over before you know it.  While you are wading through the joys of adolescence, if you are planning to continue your education afterward, it’s a good idea to start preparing as soon as possible.  This prep will make the transition less of a shock and easier to adjust to.

Make Your High School Course Schedule as Challenging as Possible

College admission requirements are usually more demanding than the minimum requirements to graduate from High School.  This means you’ll need more than the bare minimum if you want to get into the college of your choice.
As you’re looking at college choices, make sure you take note of the minimum years of Math, Sciences and a Foreign language needed for admission.
If you aren’t sure which classes would look the best on your transcripts, talk to your High School guidance counselor to find out what you should be signing up for.

Read…A Lot

College classes require MUCH MORE reading than most High School classes do, even the advanced ones. The sooner you get into the habit of reading non-fiction consistently on a daily basis, the less shock your first college-level English or History class will be.
It’s not as important what you read, but how often you are reading.  However, if you already know what you may want to major in, find out what books are commonly recommended for your major and read those. These choices will not only help you practice extensive reading but give you a leg up on your studies once you’ve started.

Track Your Graduation Requirements

While you are making sure you have the right level of classes to gain admission to your college of choice, make sure you are also satisfying all your requirements for finishing High School.  After all your hard work and diligence, you don’t want to be taking summer school for that one elective you forgot about.

Take the Current Standardized College Exams…More Than Once

High scores on the SAT or ACT will also be something college admissions offices are going to look at.  Fortunately, there is no limit to how many times you take them.  If you don’t score high enough the first time, you may take them again, and again, until you get the score you want.
If you’d like to avoid repeat testing, take advantage of the numerous prep tests, classes, and materials that are currently available.

Research Several Colleges

This is especially a good idea if you aren’t sure exactly what your major is going to be.  You can research several colleges that have multiple high-quality programs for you to choose from.  Then you’ll at least have an idea about what admission requirements to work on.
Once you’ve narrowed down a list of colleges you know you’d like to apply to, make sure you know where you need to send the admissions applications, your high school transcripts, and your test scores.

Letters of Recommendation

Most colleges will also want letters of Recommendation.  These usually come from teachers, your school counselor, employers, church pastors, and other club sponsors like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts leaders.

Hone Your People Skills

Strong communication skills will help.  From the college interview to working on group projects to delivering an oral presentation, communication skills are very important.  Ask your counselor if there are any classes available that will help you hone these skills.

Be Involved in Extracurricular Activities

Your grades are important, but they are not the end all be all of the college admissions processes.  Most colleges these days want well-rounded students that demonstrate they are interested in being involved in the community.
There are two main extracurricular categories:  School and Community.
School activities include being on a sports team or becoming a member of one or more after-school clubs.  Most schools have a broad range of options to choose from, making it easier to find a niche you are actually interested in.  Some options that often look good are:
 

  • Playing a Sport
  • Joining a Club (Drama, Debate, Chess)
  • Student Government (Class President, Secretary, )
  • Music Organizations (Band, Chorus, Orchestra)

Apply for Financial Aid

Financial aid applications also have a deadline.  To apply to the Federal programs, you have to have your application in almost a year in advance.  Check with your school counselor to see what the current requirements and deadlines are.

You Don’t Have to do This Alone

Don’t hesitate to go to your high school guidance counselor with any questions you may have as you go through this process.  That is what they are there for.  In fact, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with them by the time you get to your Junior year.  When you make the appointment, let them know you want to discuss what you need to do to best prepare for college.
Author Bio: This guest post is written by Paul Young in support of Wellington College International School Bangkok, an international school that brings the best of British education with a strong emphasis on Wellington College values to a Thai context.