Tips for College
Getting into the college of your choice can be tough, and a little friendly advice is always helpful. Use the pointers in this section to help make the process a bit easier.
Start thinking about college early.
If you decide college is what you want, be prepared to put forth a lot of effort. It takes serious work to get there, but it is also very rewarding. A little planning and preparation can make the process go very smoothly. Discuss this with your guidance counselor so they can help you prepare for college and assist you in reaching your goal.
Explore your financial options immediately.
It usually takes a team effort to pay for a college education, so discuss finances with your parents as soon as possible. Since they may not be able to fund your education by themselves, it is important that you try to decide what you can afford, who will pay what and how to get the money (i.e., loans, grants, savings or a job). It may be tough to talk about, but it gives you more time to work out a solution. Since you will probably apply for financial aid during your senior year, you will need to have an idea of what you can afford beforehand.
Decide what interests you.
Try to determine what you want to study in college. Select a major that you enjoy and explore career options that interest you. Do not pick a career that pays well but does not excite you; you probably will not finish, and if you do, you may spend the rest of your life doing something that you do not enjoy. It is important that you select a major so you can pick out the right school for your needs. It is also a good idea to look closely at career options, because not all degrees will lead to a job you like, if any at all. If possible, talk to people who do the type of work that might interest you.
Do your homework.
You will have to do a little research to find out which schools offer the major you desire. And schools can vary widely in quality of education within any given degree area. You will need to consider issues such as cost, location, academic standards and availability of financial aid. Visit any school you are seriously considering.
Take admissions tests early.
Most schools require you to take the ACT or SAT test. These tests are also linked to most financial aid. Take the ACT and SAT as early as possible and as often as you wish to obtain the best possible score. You can take preparatory courses (or purchase special books to study on your own) that may dramatically improve your test results. These help you to understand the types of questions, the format of these tests and helpful test-taking strategies. Your guidance counselor can help schedule you for these tests.
Apply early for admission.
Do not fail to get admitted to a school due to poor planning. Apply early to increase your chances of being accepted to the school of your choice. Colleges can become increasingly selective once they have already begun admitting students. Make sure you do not miss the deadline, or you may be forced to sit out a term or two. Also, do not rely on just one school. Remember – all the financial aid in the world will not help you if you fail to get admitted.
Apply early for financial aid.
The same procedure described above applies to financial aid. Be open-minded and apply for all options; you can afford to be more selective when the offers come back. Males should remember to register for Selective Service at their 18th birthday to remain eligible for federal aid.
Push yourself to do your best.
Keep your grades as high as possible. Take college preparatory classes if available. Your guidance counselor can help you select appropriate courses.
Academics alone do not make the best students. You should diversify your interests. Participate in sports, hobbies, clubs and community activities. You are going to college to expand your horizons, so start now. Learning to interact with a wide range of people, in a variety of circumstances, is a very important part of the college experience.
Learn how to study and study how to learn.
Even if you think that you have a good study time, knowing how to study effectively can make you even more productive. This can result in higher grades and often reduce the amount of time you spend studying. Speak to your guidance counselor or school librarian about books on how to study effectively.