The first half of the year in high school is a pretty busy time for college preparation.
Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, you’ve got work to do if you plan to go to college after graduation.
Don’t worry though, we’re here to help make that process as easy as possible for you. Here’s what you need to do.
High School Freshmen
If you’re already thinking about college, you’re well ahead of the game. It’s great that you’re thinking about your future, but make sure not to get too far ahead of yourself.
Right now, it’s all about setting yourself up for success over the next few years in high school. Here’s what you should do in the fall:
1) Join some extracurriculars. Don’t limit yourself to just one kind, either. Look into sports, clubs, and performance opportunities. Push your boundaries!
2) Focus on your classes. It’s a lot easier to maintain a strong GPA than it is to improve a weak one. Lay your foundations now!
3) Meet your school counselor. They’ll be a big help to you later on, so make sure to introduce yourself now.
High School Sophomores
It’s only your second year in high school, but this year marks the start of your focus on standardized tests.
This is also the time to dig deeper into the extracurricular activities you began to explore last year.
1) Prepare for PSAT and PLAN tests. Remember that you want to do well on these tests, but they are just practice. They’ll help identify your strengths and weaknesses, which is where their real value lies.
2) Get your grades up (if they’re not already). For the next two years, you’re going to have your attention pulled in more and more directions. Focus on your academic performance now while you can still spend time on it.
3) Look into dual-credit options. Some schools let you start earning college credit during your junior year, so now's the time to start planning if that's what you want to get a jumpstart on college.
High School Juniors
This is a big year for you! Advanced classes, leadership roles in all those extracurriculars you’re rocking, and of course prom are all on the docket.
Also coming up for you: standardized tests and the beginning of your college search.
1) Focus on the SAT and ACT. Take practice tests and get your hands on study guides for the standardized tests. You’ll want to take the tests in earnest at least twice to make sure you get the highest scores possible, so start picking your planned test dates now.
2) Start looking into colleges. You don’t have to make any decisions right now, but you should start looking into colleges you might want to go to. Start getting a feel for what’s out there and what you might want. And keep an open mind! Consider everything from community college to the Ivy League (yes, really.)
High School Seniors
It feels good to be on top, doesn’t it? Everything you’ve been working for has all been building up to this year.
But you can’t put your feet up just yet, there’s still work to do.
1) Go on campus tours. It’s important to demonstrate interest in schools you’re interested in, but it’s also important to get a feel for what they’re like to help you decide if you want to apply.
2) Ask for letters of recommendation. You never want to put a recommender in a last-minute scramble to say something nice about you. Ask them now.
3) Take or re-take standardized tests. Remember that bit about wanting to take the tests at least twice to make sure you get the highest score possible? If you haven’t done that yet, now’s the time.
4) Send in your first college application. Even though many deadlines aren’t until the spring, you should apply early to at least one college. Make it your favorite one, or your safest backup (so long as the decision isn’t binding.) It’s good practice for later… but hopefully you won’t need it!