11 things to do in high school to prepare for college

high school classroomGet to know your teachers. When it comes time to ask for recommendations, you’ll have an easier time if you already have a good relationship with some of your teachers. This could be something as simple as asking how their day is going or letting them know you enjoyed the movie they showed in that day. You could also stay after school for extra help or make an effort to participate in class.


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Get good grades. I’m sure you’ve heard this over and over, but it’s one of the most important parts of your college application. It’s better to improve your grades over the years than to have them continuously go down the tubes. It's even better if you have good grades from the beginning. Admissions officers won’t even look at your application if your grades are too low. So make time to study before you start adding the after school activities.

Challenge yourself. If you are getting all “A’s” in easy classes, any admissions officer can see that you’re not challenging yourself just to keep your GPA up. There’s no such thing as easy classes in college, so they want to see how you handle the hard work. If most of the students at your school are taking AP classes and you’re not, that’s going to raise a red flag. If you’re school doesn’t offer many advanced classes but you’re challenging yourself with the ones they do have, they can see that too.


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Do something you love. When you choose to be a part of the school play or to join the math team, don’t do it because you think it will look good on your college application. Do it because you are genuinely interested in participating. If you’re passionate about what you do, you will be more likely to succeed.


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Don’t spread yourself too thin. You may think the longer your list of activities, the better. It’s actually better if you do a few things well than if you join every club that fits into your schedule. Anyone can join 10 clubs and not really be involved in any of them. Commitment shows you’re willing to stick with something and make sacrifices for it.

Be yourself. A lot of people think colleges are only looking for well-rounded students so if you are on a sports team, it’s better to join the drama club or the marching band than to pick up another sport. This is not true. Colleges are looking for all sorts of people – well-rounded students and focused students. If you happen to love soccer and theatre, go ahead and do both! But if you’d rather join year-round soccer teams than do anything else, colleges are looking for that kind of commitment too.

Start early on everything. Whether it’s talking to teachers, getting involved, researching colleges or asking for recommendations, you’ll always be better off if you start early. We often underestimate how much time it takes to get things done. If it does happen to take less time than you thought, then you’re ahead of the game. Chances are that you’ll be glad you didn’t have to rush things.

Take standardized tests early. You won’t know if you’ll be satisfied with your score until you take the test. Your score might change depending on the time of year or how you felt that day. If you wait too long, you won’t have enough time to retake it. Taking the test early will also allow time to take a SAT or ACT prep course if you’re not satisfied. Having your score early will also give you a better idea of which schools will be a safety, match, or reach school.


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Research colleges. This could be as simple as visiting their website or as involved as spending a night on campus. It’s important to know about the school you’re applying to because you don’t want to find out they don’t have a major you’re interested in or a sports team you were thinking about joining when you get to campus. You won’t be able to make an informed decision about where to apply to until you have more information.


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Know the deadlines. If you’ve missed a deadline, you’ve missed an opportunity. Research all the deadlines for all the schools you’re considering and write them all down in one place. Find what works for you to remember the deadlines – make a timeline, set alarms, or write them on a calendar.

Make the most of your summers. Whether it’s getting a job or internship, volunteering, taking a class or doing a summer program, don’t let the summer go to waste. It’s a perfect time to do something you may not be able to fit into your schedule during the school year.


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