High schoolers, let's talk about getting ready for college.
I know, not everyone wants to go to college, but a lot of people do, and a lot of those people don't know how to best prepare themselves for the next step of their lives. That's what I'm here to tell you!
Take your SAT and ACT your junior year, or earlier!
This will help you see where you need to improve in order to get into a certain school, or maybe you have no idea where you want to go. Your scores can help you find schools that you'll be able to get into.
As much as I hate that they're a benchmark for a lot of college admissions, standardized tests are a really easy way to figure out which schools are within your reach, or which ones are just out of reach and that you can push yourself to be within reach.
Tour colleges junior year.
You want to go into senior year knowing where you want to apply, which schools are your top choices, when application deadlines are, which ones you have to write an essay for, etc.
Touring the schools you have some interest in earlier than your senior year helps you determine whether you can actually see yourself going to that school. You could get to the campus and realize you hate the vibe, or realize it's way too far from home when you make the drive.
Although everything you need to know is online, being on that campus in person and talking to students who actually go there can give you the real snapshot of what that school is really like. If you're going to spend thousands of dollars to go there and spend the next four years there, you need to make sure you actually want to do that.
Make relationships with your favorite teachers.
Guess what? A lot of applications require a letter of recommendation from a teacher! Some require two letters!
How awkward is it going to be when you go to the teacher and ask for a letter, and they don't remember anything about you because you haven't talked to them since freshman year english?
Make those relationships. Put in a tiny bit of effort. Give them a coffee cup for Christmas. Make them like you!
And, don't forget, ask them to write the letter before senior year starts!
They're going to have lots of students asking them for letters. You need to let them know you want one from them as soon as you start getting ready to apply to colleges. It takes you time to fill out the application and write your essays, so it's going to take them time to write you a letter of recommendation.
Apply early to your top choice.
A lot of schools only let in certain numbers of students per year, especially at more competitive colleges. Applying early decision or early action guarantees that you'll know earlier whether or not you got in. You have earlier access to scholarships. You have more time to make your decision, as opposed to waiting on the schools' decisions on you.
Apply to enough schools.
I do not care if your mom, and your dad, and your brother, and your aunt, and your uncle, and your grandpa, and your great grandpa, and literally everyone else in your family got into your top choice school. I do not care if there's a very, very good chance you'll get in.
You never know.
Apply to a few places. Include one that you'd call a safety school, your top choice, etc.
Yes, applications cost money, but you don't want to get the rejection letter from the only school you applied to and have no time left to apply to another school.
Apply to schools with options.
You know how many people change their major in college? Almost all of them.
Do not pick a school because they have a great education program but lackluster programs everywhere else, even if you're almost certain you want to be a teacher, because you are more likely to change your mind than you are likely not to change your mind.
You want to have freedom to change your mind and also receive a good education whichever major you choose.
All that said, do not apply to a school because someone else wants you to. You're the one who is going to be stuck there for the next four years of your life.
Pick your schools wisely, and pick the ones that feel right to you.
Don't forget, college costs money and FAFSA won't give you as much aid as you probably need, so save those coins. Starting now... no, really, right now.
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