Life

How To Prepare Yourself For College

Congratulations! You’re smack dab in the middle of your senior year of high school, and you are starting to contemplate life after high school. Will you strike out on your own successfully, or will you trip and stumble through your first year of college, learning some painful lessons as you go? If you’re like most high school seniors, you likely feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety as you prepare for your next transition in life.

Entering college? Now what?
There are quite a few steps that need to be completed as you think about entrance to a college and a degree course of study. You might be asking the following questions as you think about this next stage of life:

  • Where do I want to go?
  • What do I want to major in?
  • What is needed for college admission?
  • Do I have what it takes to gain entrance?
  • Am I prepared for college?

Let’s cross some things off our list as we prepare for graduation and beyond, and we’ll enter the fall of our next freshman year with the confidence that we can successfully handle what the “grown up” world throws at us. Take these steps to prepare yourself for college:

1. Take advantage of honors and advanced placement courses
Lots of high schools have a study option for taking college credit courses while still in high school. The academic work may be more rigorous, but the advantage of completing these courses is that you won’t have to pay for them later—-they are free to you while still in high school! Take them, save some money, and finish your degree faster. You’ll get a head start for pennies on the dollar.

2. Establish good study habits
Lots of things will try to take your attention away from your studies in college—friends, social activities, work, and romantic pursuits all threaten to derail your academic life. If you prioritize study habits while you are still in high school, you’ll be likely to carry these good habits with you as you enter college. Studies first, social life second!

3. Don’t falsify information on applications
While it may be tempting to inflate your extracurricular activities or your academic prowess, rest assured—–the college you are attempting to gain admission to will eventually find out that you’ve lied, and then you’ll have to answer for your actions. It’s important to be honest as you fill out required information, and if you don’t gain admission to your college of choice, there are others with comparable degree programs who will take a look at you. It’s better to enter with integrity than under false pretenses.

4. Save your money!
If you have a job while in high school, it’s probably tempting to use some of that extra cash to spend on good times with friends. We cannot stress enough the importance of saving a portion of what you make in preparation for college. You’ll need to start covering a lot of your own expenses as you strike out on your own, and these can add up quickly. Put some of your hard-earned money aside, and you’ll reduce your stress as you handle all of the other big changes being thrown your way.

5. Get involved in your school and local community
If you have the opportunity to join clubs, organizations, and sports teams, do it! Develop your leadership skills, network and develop friendships, and allow yourself to become the best version of you that you can be. You never know what might unfold as a result of these experiences; grab life by the horns, and see what wonderful things will unfold as you enter college.

6. Don’t stress out about your major
Many college freshmen feel pressure to pick a major upon entering college, and it is not necessary to do so. The first year of college is filled with many generalized classes, so there is no need to lock down a major until sometime during your sophomore year. If you have questions about possible majors, consider asking an advisor for advice on how to best go about picking a course of study.

7. Apply for every scholarship you can find
College is expensive! You don’t want to be bogged down with debt upon entering the grown-up world with a first job; seek out scholarships and grants while you are still in college, and apply for every single one that you think you qualify for. You might be pleasantly surprised at what comes your way with regard to funding. The less you have to pay for your post-secondary education, the better. You’ll be starting off on the right foot as you give back to society.

Take a breath, grab a coffee, and know that it’s all going to be okay. Many have traveled a path similar to yours, and it is possible to cross all of those items off your “to-do” list and enter college with confidence, excitement, and anticipation of all the wonderful opportunities that are unfolding before you. Go get ’em!

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