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How to Prepare for College in High School

Updated on July 26, 2015

Preparing for College in High School

Preparing for college is often a topic people want to avoid thinking about, but it doesn't have to be a daunting task. Coming up with a plan, staying organized, and sticking to your plan will reduce much of your stress. You will be able to do everything you need to do to get into college while still enjoying your high school experience.

Getting good grades is important when applying to college
Getting good grades is important when applying to college | Source

1. Get the Grade

Before you can make a plan, you need to know what colleges are looking for and what you need to focus on in high school. One of the most important aspects of preparing for college involves grades. Your G.P.A. is one of the most significant aspects that colleges look at. Colleges are not looking for perfection in the area of grades, but they want to see that you did your work in classes and that you tried hard to do well. Try to make it a goal to obtain mostly A's and as few B's as possible. However, if you get a bad grade in one or two classes, do not despair. One bad grade will not ruin your chances. Just make sure to consistently try your best and continue taking the steps you need to take to make sure schoolwork is a priority in your life. Additionally, working hard and studying in high school will definitely prepare you for the type of study habits you will need when in college.

Preparing for college entrance tests will help you get into your preferred college
Preparing for college entrance tests will help you get into your preferred college | Source

2. College Admission Tests

In addition to getting good grades, college admission tests such as the ACT and SAT are a major college admission consideration. They are also a major consideration in the evaluation of university scholarships. Therefore, it is extremely important to prepare for these tests. Make sure you do not procrastinate when preparing for these very important tests. Taking the time out to prepare for these tests will be more than worth it in the long run. Here are some preparation methods to take advantage of:

What are these tests exactly?

  • Find out more about the ACT vs. the SAT HERE.
  • Find out more about the PSAT HERE.

1) PSAT: Schools often provide practice tests such as the PSAT, which is a shorter version of the SAT. This test is often taken during the junior year of high school. Make sure to register in time to take this test.

2) Practice Books: Books with full practice tests can be very useful. Practicing as if you were actually taking the test will help you prepare for the real thing.

3) Online Practice: Several online websites, such as the ACT website, provide practice questions to help you prepare.

3) School programs: Workshops offered through your school can help you learn how to succeed on the test.

4) Paid Programs: Paid test prep programs through outside companies, though often pricy, are also offered.

5) Tutors: Tutors may also be a great resource to help you prepare for the test.

Joining extracurriculars such as marching band shows colleges what you are passionate about
Joining extracurriculars such as marching band shows colleges what you are passionate about | Source

3. Extracurricular Activities

Though grades and admission tests are definitely important in high school, they are not the only things that should occupy your time. Another very important aspect of preparing for college includes involvement in extracurricular activities. One important aspect of extracurriculars is that they help you become "well-rounded." Involvement in extracurriculars shows colleges that you did not just spend all of your time studying or playing video games after school was over. Colleges want individuals who can contribute unique and varied experiences and skills to their schools.

Joining an extracurricular activity is simple and often does not take too much of your time. Be involved in the amount of activities your schedule will allow. I would suggest finding about two extracurricular activities that you are interested in, and staying committed to these activities. Additionally, don't be afraid to try an activity that seems outside of your comfort zone. You never know what you may enjoy. If you decide that it is just not for you, try something else! There are many options. Also, do not be afraid to try new activities during each year of high school.

Not only do extracurricular activities look good on your application, but extracurriculars also allow you to make new friends. I made many friends through my extracurriculars in high school. Making friends with others can also be beneficial if you have questions about classes or anything else you may struggle with. This support system is very helpful and almost essential to succeeding in high school and getting the most out of your experience.

Volunteering will look great on any college application
Volunteering will look great on any college application | Source

4. Community Service and Volunteering

In addition to involvement in extracurricular activities, volunteering in the community is a very important aspect of college preparation. Colleges often look for volunteer work on applications to determine if you are willing to make an impact in your community. Volunteering also shows that you are willing to spend your time benefiting the lives of others with no monetary compensation in return. It can also reveal that you are likely to have initiative and good character.

I would suggest taking advantage of as many volunteer opportunities as you can. You can really never have too many volunteer hours. I usually learned so much from these experiences and enjoyed the opportunity to help others. Also, volunteering with friends often makes the experience more fun and enjoyable. If volunteer opportunities do not seem to be coming your way, make sure to take the initiative to find opportunities yourself. People are usually more than willing to accept volunteers or to direct you to an organization that needs volunteers. Ask teachers for opportunities, call places in your community, and look up opportunities online. There are also often extracurricular activities in high school that engage in many volunteer activities. These organizations can be very helpful and a are great way to get involved in both your school and community.

Additionally, volunteer experiences can often be helpful to refer to when writing application essays or scholarship essays. You may also form connections with leaders in your community which can help you in the future with your college application, references, and college and career advice.

5. Teachers and Adult Leaders

One important thing to keep in mind throughout your high school experience is your relationship with teachers. Getting to know your teachers is very valuable and will be useful down the road when you are applying to college. They can help by writing recommendation letters, giving college and career advice, and they can help you in the rest of your high school journey.

Pursue a hobby to enhance your college application
Pursue a hobby to enhance your college application | Source

6. Hobbies and Talents

There are many hobbies and activities that make people unique, such as playing an instrument, writing, painting, dancing, participating in a sport, and so much more. Make sure to consistently keep up with these hobbies, as they will be important to put on college applications. Also, be sure to enter competitions and events related to your hobby. Hobbies show that you have interests outside of academics, and that you have developed talents and skills in multiple areas. If you do not think you have a hobby, try one or more activities that seem interesting to you, and stick with them. Being consistent with a hobby and investing your time in it will show colleges that you have good character and that you have something unique to bring to their school.

7. Fun!?

With all of these activities and homework, it can seem difficult to find any time to just take a break, have fun, and relax. Though succeeding in high school is very important, it is also important to give yourself a break. Make sure to plan some time to hang out with friends, go to a concert, or do whatever you personally like to do. It is important to not become too stressed or too exhausted. Make sure to take care of yourself as much as you can during high school.

Ready for Applications

Source

Knowing what is important to be admitted into college is vital. Following the steps previously listed will give you a great advantage and will prepare you to submit an outstanding college application. All of your hard work and dedication will definitely pay off when you are ready to apply to your preferred colleges.

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