College App Prep In Early High School
Freshmen and sophomores: college is closer than you think. Three or four years may sound like all the time in the world, but it’s never too early to start making your college application the best that it can be. Here’s how you can get an early start on your college prep.
The transition from middle school to high school flips a lot of students upside-down. Eighth graders may have an easy time in school and enjoy their status as the oldest kids in the building, but high school ups the ante with more rigorous classes and fellow students who are old enough to drive. When you’re a freshman among seniors, it’s very easy to feel like college is a million years away, but those four years will go by in a flash. This is exactly why it’s never too early to start thinking about your college application.
Your GPA Matters
College prep is most often reserved for juniors and seniors, but there’s quite a bit that freshmen and sophomores can do to be proactive and make their college application process less painful and more efficient. First, freshmen and sophomores should focus on doing well in school. This may seem obvious, but a high grade point average (GPA) can open many doors during your college application. It’s much easier to maintain a high GPA than to correct a low one, so having a high GPA going into your junior year will make everything easier and less stressful. Accepting afterschool help from teachers will help your GPA a lot. Teachers are there to answer your questions about the subjects in class and can even give study tips. You don’t have to learn everything alone!
A high GPA is a great start, but extracurriculars will help give your college application a competitive edge. Extracurricular activities look great on college applications. Consider sports, clubs, and afterschool programs that interest you. Colleges don’t just want people who can do well in class; they want people who will improve life on campus for everyone, and who will stand out among their peers. Whether it’s chess club or varsity football, start exploring and discovering your interests as soon as you can.
Explore Different Colleges
It’s also never too early to consider which colleges pique your interest. Touring college campuses and doing research online will give you all the information you need to start thinking about your colleges of choice. Tours of campuses can be very informative and enjoyable. Many campuses host events and open houses where you can meet professors, alumni, and students who can tell you more about the college and its classes. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions; your college is your own decision. Try to find one that really excites you!
Think about what departments your potential majors are in and look for colleges with good reputations in those departments. You don’t need to decide on a major now, but it never hurts to know your options.
Location Location Location
Colleges aren’t all about academics. Also consider what city or town a college is in, and whether or not you’d like to live there. Think about how close to home you want to be, and what you’d like to do while you’re not in class or studying. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a pleasant school to study at. If you’d like a school with a beautiful campus, good food in the dining hall, or any other amenities, keep an eye out for schools that suit your needs. You may not end up at a college that meets all your expectations, but it never hurts to look!
Ask Adults About College Prep
Starting a dialogue with anyone in your life who has attended college can also be very helpful with your college application process. If your parents/guardians attended college, ask them about their application process and the schools they attended. They can help you avoid pitfalls and help you decide which schools would suit your needs. Your parents/guardians may have attended college a long time ago, but many parts of the application process and college experience have stayed the same over the years. Many parts of their experience will be the same as yours, so don’t be afraid to ask them about their lives as college students and college applicants.
A big part of the early application process is the PSAT/PreACT. These practice exams won’t end up on your final application, but they can help you decide which college exam to take, and which topics and strategies you need to study to prepare for those exams. Many college counselors recommend taking these practice exams without studying for them. The practice exams are there for you to prepare for the proper exam; getting a high grade isn’t necessary. Make sure to take your practice exams sooner rather than later, so that you have lots of time to study for the real exam.
Your Guidance Counselor
Lastly: make sure to connect with your guidance counselor at your school. Guidance counselors are not exactly the same as college counselors, but they will give you lots of advice about keeping a high GPA and making sure your high school transcript is as impressive as it can be for your college application. Don’t be shy!
It’s never too early to start thinking about college prep. Maintain a high GPA, get involved in after school programs and clubs, and start thinking about which colleges interest you. Take your practice exams and talk with the people in your life who know about the college experience. With all of these things combined, your college application process in junior and senior year will be much easier and more impressive!
Author: Hastings Davin