6 Pieces Of College Advice For Rising High School Seniors
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6 Pieces Of College Advice For Rising High School Seniors

A few things to begin considering this summer.

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6 Pieces Of College Advice For Rising High School Seniors
Young Women's Leadership Charter School

As summer begins (sorry for those of you whose summer isn't for another few weeks), most people want to take the chance to relax, hang out at the beach, have fun. But as tempting as all that is, it's also a chance for rising high school seniors to start thinking about what is for many the first big life decision they have to make on their own. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you visit colleges and (maybe) start on your applications.


1. College isn't the right choice for everyone.

College is a great choice, but it's only a great choice if you can actually complete it. While I believe that even an unfinished education gives you valuable skills, employers don't tend to see it that way. And if you get paid the same as a high school graduate and have college debt, that's going to affect your life for a while.

It might seem like everyone you know is going to college, but that's unlikely to be true. If you have doubts about whether you want to go to college, consider some other options. Employment, in particular, is a good option since that is also the end goal. A mixture could also be working part-time while taking a light load at a community college. The important thing is to find what works for you. There is no one-size-fits-all plan.


2. Make a list of potential majors.

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If one area sticks out and you know you will stick to it no matter what, then look for schools that have a good program in that area. But if you don't know yet, don't force yourself into choosing. Plenty of colleges don't make you declare right away. Out of the ones that do make you choose, take a look at their policies on changing majors. Some of them have a straightforward process for doing so. There is no reason why you should have to force yourself into a major you aren't sure of.


3. Think about who you want recommendations from.

Make a list of the teachers you think can best talk about you as a person. From the moment you re-enter those school halls in fall, find reasons to chat with them often. Get to know them on a personal level, not just in a classroom. If that list of teachers is empty, then it's time to really think through what you're going to have to do differently in fall. Remember, they're going to be writing this recommendation letters maybe even as early as October. That doesn't give you long to get to know them.

In particular, many private colleges want a recommendation letter from a counselor. If you go to a large school, this could be particularly tricky.


4. If you haven't done any college visits yet, do so now.

The environment around you can actually have an effect on how well you thrive in college. So don't apply just based on the name of a college. That being said, college visits that require a flight or even just a long car ride might not be worth it. But chances are there's at least one college near enough to you that you can check out. At the very least, you'll start to know some likes and dislikes that you can then look for in other colleges.


5. Start on those supplemental essays.

This is one area where procrastination can seriously screw you over. Lots of colleges have the same deadlines (i.e. the first or last day of the month), so the "night before" technique will definitely not work. Some colleges have even had issues with their portals crashing on the day their applications are due. If you can keep your mind on researching colleges and cracking down on those essays, you save yourself a lot of strife later on, especially as you will also be concerned about keeping your grades up.

Most colleges have the supplemental essay -- or at least a previous version of it -- released somewhere online. If not, there're at least a few basic questions like "tell me about yourself," "tell me about the environment you grew up in," or "why this college?" that you can prepare for.


6. Have the money talk.

College is incredibly expensive. Get at least a general idea of what your parents are planning on paying for. If they don't want to give a firm answer, at least get an idea of worst case scenario. If it looks like the financial burden is on you, you may have to adjust your college list accordingly, so at least having an idea sooner rather than later is a good idea. Also, if you think you can make it to a college that meets your use a financial aid calculator to see what that would mean for you. "Rich", "poor", and "middle class" all tend to mean different things to different people, so even if you think you fit into one category and are therefore sure you will or will not get financial aid, run a calculator just to be sure. Again, doing this now rather than after you've been accepted is helpful as you may realize that some colleges might not be feasible for you. If so, then spending the money and time on sending in an application might be a waste when you could have spent that time and money on a college you might actually go to.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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