Preparing for College 101: High School Freshmen

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High school is a time of transition as you’re making your way into adulthood and preparing for the future. To help guide you through this exciting, but sometimes stressful time in your life, we’ve put together a “to do” list for each year of high school.

It’s never too early to start planning for one of the biggest changes in your life – applying to college – so, let’s get started with your freshman year “to do” list to keep you on track!

Work hard

From now on, your overall academic success and involvement in school will count towards your future college applications. Here are some steps to ensure your hard work is moving you towards your goals:

Create a yearly schedule that includes challenging classes and meets graduation requirements. Learn about Advanced Placement and Honors courses; what are they exactly? How can I challenge myself academically and not seem too overwhelmed? Which classes are available at my school?

Involvement in high school goes beyond simply getting good grades. Engage in after-school activities and, if possible, seek out leadership roles. These extracurricular activities are what admission committees look for on an application. Besides, it could be fun! Consider getting involved in community-based activities, academic programs, summer workshops and camps. Keep in mind that it’s also important to not over-commit yourself to TOO many extracurricular activities. Dabble in a few that pique your interest, but remember… your academic record is an extremely important piece of your college application, so stay the course with your academics and work hard!

Remember to be honest with yourself. If you’re shooting for a top college, or any college for that matter, you need to start working towards that goal immediately. Don’t wait until your senior year to put in the effort, or you’ll risk falling behind.

Get out of your comfort zone

High school is a brand new chapter of your life. It’s the place to try new things – classes, programs you might not be normally interested in, and activities you didn’t explore before. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new passion!

Exploring new fields will allow you to expand your horizons and keep an open mind while researching potential careers of interest. It is perfectly normal to be unsure of what you want to do for a living.  Start exploring career opportunities. There are many online tools to explore your options. You can also go to career fairs in your area. Think about talking to adults about their jobs, as well. Start building a support group of family, friends, counselors, and teachers who will serve as mentors during your college search process.

Be present

Keep track of all your successes. This will come in handy when you start applying for colleges and summer jobs or internships, as well. Create a running list of accomplishments, awards, honors, recognitions, extracurricular activities, and work experiences – whether paid or volunteer.

Remember to be present and live in the moment.  Enjoy your high school years to the fullest and enjoy the ride. It’s only just begun!

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