Start preparing for College NOW!

Even though we are still early in the school year for many high school students now is the time to prepare for the future. Getting into college can be a difficult pursuit. Whether those entails earning impressive grades, getting involved in many extracurriculars, or writing a standout college entrance letter, the stress that comes along with applying to colleges is bound to be overwhelming to both students and parents.

However, students have many more advantages now that their parents didn’t have in the past. In this technology driven era it is easy to find guides online that aid students in their application process. This article is one that will provide tips aimed to students set themselves apart and standout to colleges.

Tip 1: Choosing Extracurriculars and Classes

This can be very stressful, but you must remember to relax and enjoy what you do. The clubs and activities you get involved in must be enjoyable, doing something just to put down on paper will make you miserable. Pursue your interests and do some things you enjoy. If your school does not have a club or activity, you really like you can even investigate starting you own. Also don’t get involved in more than you can handle make sure you keep a school and life balance so you can prevent burnout.
Colleges know that not ever student is cookie cutter, they like to see your personality stand out in what you do. Even Ivy League universities encourage their applicants to show their individuality. You should shine as yourself and not try to fit a mold. If you’re not sure what you want to pursue, freshman year is the best time to see what your options are and see what you enjoy and what don’t. Enroll in classes that seem interesting to you, they don’t all have to be honors or AP classes. Join clubs and activities that pique your interest. Remember, an A in a class you enjoy is better then a B in a honors or AP class you struggle thru.
However, if you’re an upperclassman and still haven’t figured out what you like you are still ok and on track. You can still join different clubs that pique your interest and even duel enroll and earn some college credits while in high school. You may find yourself taking online or off campus classes that you enjoy and help find a focus you enjoy learning about. Extracurriculars don’t have to be just during school hours or after school either. Volunteering can also be used on your application and shows what you enjoy even if your school doesn’t offer anything in that interest.

Tip 2: Demonstrating Course Rigor

Your academic record is the one thing that every admission counselor will look at when you apply. It is what they look at and assess to see if the applicant will be able to handle the rigors of college and the academic specialty they pursue.
College can be one of the most stressful situations students embark on in their life, many come in with no preparation. To help students be prepared it is recommended to take some dual enrollment classes, honors classes, or AP/IB classes, so they can start to know what college classes are like and start developing study and work habits that are helpful in college settings.BY also taking these types of classes it makes the applicant stand out as showing they are willing to put in the extra effort, time and work to reach their goal. It shows you are capable of handling that type of course work.
High GPAs are also not for everyone, a student who takes classes and works hard may be only able to get a B or C due to outside influences. Work, family and life are all aspects that can affect a student’s grades. If you think it’s necessary, you can explain your circumstances in your application. Most colleges are understanding.

Tip 3: Standardized Testing

In recent years many colleges don’t put as much emphasis on testing as they did in the past. In the past many colleges required the applicant to include their ACT or SAT score with their application. Now, however, neither are required for most colleges. Many colleges have opted to become test-optional, recognizing that single test scores do not always show the true academic knowledge of students. A student’s academic ability can be showcased in different ways, so if you can show that through your GPA, awards, or extracurriculars then you can highlight yourself thru that way. A high-test score though does help you stand out among other students, which is helpful since colleges are progressively becoming more difficult to get into and more students are applying for limited number of spots. When choosing between taking the SAT or ACT, it is generally recommended to take both. Generally, many high schools offer students the ability to take both for free during the school year. Remember you can always retake the SAT and ACT so taking it early allows you to know your weakness and work on raising your scores.

Tip 4 Scholarships, Letters of Recommendation, and Other Things

When it comes time to apply to colleges in your senior year, there are a lot of things not covered. For instance, determining which college to go to, asking for letters of recommendation, and finding scholarships are all important in the application process, but none are explicitly mentioned until senior year. All these will require the student to do a lot of the leg work, but it will be worth it when they get the acceptance letter for the college they wanted. Letters of recommendation can be from teachers, community members and outside people that you have met thru your academic career. They help the admission committee get to see the student thru other eyes. These letters can help them know they student and what is important to them. Scholarships are varied and some require research and some work on the student’s behalf. Just remember that many scholarships don’t even get applications so taking the time to apply can help you in the long run with college expenses.

However, the tips listed above are generally what’s considered to be the most essential during your high school years. There are many other options for students who do not see traditional college to what they want to achieve. Taking a gap year is also a valid option if you think it’s necessary. The most important thing is that you do what’s right for yourself. Depending on the circumstances, that is always different for everybody.