I'm Just Starting High School. What Should I Do?
Go to Class
Take challenging classes that get you ready for college. Make sure you schedule the classes needed for high school graduation and that meet college requirements. Your guidance counselor should be able to help you find the right schedule for you. Think about taking advanced placement classes or post-secondary classes through a local college. Additional classes during the summer is also an option.
College is expensive even with scholarships. Consider making a savings account where you set aside money from your allowance, summer job, or after school job. The FAFSA4caster can help you determine what you might be paying for tuition and what you might receive in financial aid.
Activities look good on a college application and can give you that edge. Being involved in activities can enrich your high school experience and even help your talents develop. Volunteer work will help when applying for colleges and when looking for a job. Volunteering will also help to make your community a better place. An after school or summer job will showcase your responsive attitude in addition to helping you save a little money. Keep a list of all that you do throughout high school so you will be able to include them on your college applications.
Use Your Free Time Wisely
Instead of always being on social media or playing video games, trying reading a good book, watching a documentary, or reading the news. You can still do fun things in your free time, but try to enrich your mind every once in a while. You will find that knowing what is going on in the world and understanding a new concept that you weren't taught in school can be very rewarding, and even help you get better grades.
Yes, it is undesirable to think about, but studying is a big part of college. Make good study habits now and you won't have to struggle to learn them in college. This means study in a quiet place to avoid distractions. Pay attention in class and take notes. Cramming does not help so always leave time to study before the big test. Study with a friend or parent. Do not be ashamed to ask a teacher to help you understand a concept. Don't forget to take a break every now and then. You don't want to burn yourself out. Your mind needs rest just like your body.
Think About What You Want To Do
What do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of courses and area of study do you need in order for that to come true? What are your skills and passions? Explore various careers and what is needed to achieve them. Find colleges that fit your needs; the majors, activities, location, and pricing. Talk to your parents about what you want to do. Meet with your school counselor to assist you in locating colleges that have your interests. Make a note of the requirements needed to get into that college. Remember, choose something that you would love, not something based on salary. If your not sure what you want to do that's o.k. too, you have time to figure it out. Colleges have the option of "undecided" for the first years.
I've Been In High School Awhile. What Should I Be Doing Now?
Request information from all the colleges that have interested you. Go to college fairs and talk to admission counselors. Find the schools have what your looking for and start narrowing down the list of potential colleges. Talk to your parents about your school choices. They want to know.
Take a Tour
Going to college campuses can help you narrow down your list of potential schools. You will receive more information and gain a feel for what life on campus would be like. In addition, it will help to ease your family's worries. Try to visit during the school year and stay on campus overnight. While you are visiting, check out a class in your desired field of study and talk to professors. Also, be sure to visit with the financial aid office to make note of scholarship opportunities. Another bonus of visiting a school is an application fee waiver if you fill one out there. Please note that not all school waive their application fees.
Take the Test
The dreaded ACT/SAT tests are not so bad with a little prep. Take the PSAT/PLAN and consider taking a prep class for the test. Books are also available with practice tests and information. Or, you could play this game to have fun while getting ready for the test, Zero Hour Threat. Practice can help with your nerves. Which should you take, ACT OR SAT? Look at the college requirements and if there is no requirements take the test which will better suit your strengths. You will have the option to send your scores to the colleges of your choice, so have a list of schools prepared. If you find a school later that you would like to attend you can resend your scores for a fee. You can take the test multiple times to get a better score, just remember, you have to pay for the test each time you take it.
Apply For Scholarships
Scholarships can really make a difference when it comes to the cost of education. The internet is a great way to search for scholarships, with sites like Fastweb, Chegg, and Scholarships.com. However, be careful to avoid scholarship scams. There are many students applying for scholarships, so do not be discouraged. Keep applying. Be sure to check with your high school office or guidance counselor for local or school scholarships. Additionally, clubs or activities that your or your parents are involved with may offer scholarships. Oftentimes workplaces have a scholarship program setup for their employees' children. Just ask.
Stick To It
Keep going. Commitment to a club or job can be helpful on your application. Colleges can tell when students are just joining things because it looks good. However, if you seriously dislike the activity don't force yourself to stay. Make sure you update your list with the dates you joined and quit your activities. Keep reading non-assigned books to expand your knowledge and literary understanding. It will help you later. Also, keep up your good study habits, since you will need them in college. Finally, remember to keep saving money. Scholarships do not cover the extra stuff.
Celebrate Your Achievements
Getting the Honor Roll or Perfect Attendance isn't so easy, so be proud of that. Colleges want students who have received special honors. Keep a list of all your awards and accomplishments up to date.
Be a Student Teachers Like
Some schools or scholarship applications require letters of recommendation. Think about which teachers would be willing to write a letter for you. Even if you have trouble in a subject and have made improvements over the year, your teacher might write you an excellent recommendation. Just give your teachers advanced notice.
I'm Almost Done With High School. Do I Have to Do Anything Else?
See It Through
Even though you are practically done, do not discontinue all of your good habits. College requires hard work, so having strong study habits now will just make college easier later. Keep taking challenging courses, colleges like to see what your taking your senior year along with your transcripts from the past years. If you have already been accepted into the college of your choice, congratulations. Just remember, your last year does reflect on your overall G.P.A., and you need that to apply for scholarships. After graduation, keep your mind active, by reading and learning. This way, you are ready to learn at the college level.
If there are colleges you are still deciding between, visit the campuses to help you make the final decision. Seeing the campus during different semesters can help you get a better feel for what it would be like when you go to that college.
It's time to fill out those college applications. Apply to your top choice schools. There are application fees for some colleges, which sometimes can be waived if you visit or talk to an admissions counselor. Pay attention to the deadlines and start to apply early on, since applications require transcripts and letters of recommendations which can take some time. Make sure to include post secondary and AP credits along with your transcripts to ensure all your credits transfer. Continue that scholarship search and remember to apply.
Fill Out The FASFA
Fill out the FASFA in order to qualify for Federal Student Aid in the form of grants, loans, or work study. You will want to have all of your finances in order so you can enjoy that college life. It helps to have your parents and your taxes done early so you can enter information from the taxes into the FASFA worksheets. Check what the deadline for the FASFA is for the schools you are interested in (usually early February). 1-800-4-FED-AID can help you with any questions.
Make A Decision
Out of the colleges that have accepted you, decide which one you will attend. You will have to notify and make a deposit to the school of your choosing . Keep in mind there are deadlines for making your deposit (Often about May 1st). Be sure that this is going to be the college you attend, because you may not be able to get your deposit refunded. However, after graduation or withdrawal from the college you may be able to get your deposit back or choose to donate it to the school's scholarship fund.
Go to the Doctor
Most colleges require that you have all your shots and a physical. Make sure you are up to date with your shots. Since some shots require a series over a ceratin amount of time don't wait too long to get your shots done. Ask your doctor what you should do if you need to go to the doctor while your at school or need your prescriptions filled. It would also be a good idea to check what doctors in your college town accept your insurance.
I've Graduated From High School. I'm All Set Right?
Make Your Summer Worthwhile
This is your last summer before you are a college student. Be sure to have fun, but be safe and keep your mind active. Just like before, you should use your extra time to keep learning new facts and skills. That way you will be ready to get into the college way of life. You have worked hard over the past four years, so celebrate and do not waste the hard work you have done.
Summer will be over before you know it so start thinking about what you want to take to college with you. Pack your essentials first and then see if you have room for everything else. You do not want to bring to little and end up having to buy supplies, but you do not want to bring too much since dorm rooms are not known their size. Check with your college about what you can and can not bring, or what is already provided. Some colleges even have checklists for what they suggest you bring.
Register For Class
The first time registering may be a little tricky so check with your adviser to see what classes you should be taking for your major. Most colleges will have a guide or timeline for typical programs to help decide what classes you should take. Some colleges have a registration event for incoming students to visit campus, meet other incoming students, register with their adviser, and go to the bookstore to find the books they will need. If you are unsure about what you need to do for registration you can talk to your admission counselor.
Get Your Books
When you are registered for you classes the next step is to find out what books you will need for each class. You can do this by checking with your campus bookstore. However, campus book stores may not be the best price for you. When you find out what books you need, check online through various retailers or textbook rental sites [Remember to be safe online, only use trusted website that are secure.] Another option is to talk to upperclassmen to see if you can buy their old books from them. [This gives a fellow student extra cash and saves you a little extra cash.] Ask on campus if there is a Facebook group set up for your campus to sell/buy books between students. [Once again remember to be safe. If your buying or selling a book to someone you do not know meet in a public place; library, coffee shop, class, etc.] Do not wait till the last minute, since everyone taking that class will be trying to buy the same books.
Start Building Relationships
If your college had a summer event you probably met a lot of new people or possibly your roommate. If you did not already choose a roommate, the college will match you with a roommate using a form you have filled out. When you find out who you will be rooming with, the college will also provide some contact info. It helps to get to know your roommate before you get to school. You can also figure out who is bringing what so you do not have two of everything in your room. Many schools set up a page or group where incoming students can chat online and make friends before you even get to campus.
Apply for Jobs
Whether it be on or off campus, you may want to consider a job to give you some spending money or to help pay for college. If you qualify through the FASFA you may have access to a student worker job. These are on-campus jobs that are funded by Federal grants. These jobs go quickly so tidy up your resume and apply as soon as you can. If you do not qualify for a student worker job, some campus jobs do not require this status or you can try applying for off-campus jobs. Make sure that your campus allows you to hold a job off campus and that you would have mode of transportation since some colleges do not allow freshmen to have cars.
Register Your Car
Many campuses require you to have a window decal in order to park on campus. You will have to register your car in order to receive your parking permit. Some campuses add a fee for parking, so if you are not bringing a car make sure to fill out the paperwork to get that fee waived. Even if you do not have a car, there are plenty of people on campus who do, so do not be too worried about it. Many times, if one person on the floor who has a car needs to go to the store they will ask around to see if anyone needs a ride. You might even meet new people this way.
Pick a Meal Plan
Another college cost is your meal plan, make sure you pick the one that is right for you. If you do not choose a plan you will probably be put on the most expensive option. Unless you plan to be at the dining commons for every meal this might not be the best option for you. There are events both on and off campus that have free food, and if you eat your breakfast in your dorm you may end up paying for meals you will never use.
Go through your music and delete old music you do not like anymore. This can save you from an embarrassing song playing while on random. Take a look at your social media accounts and decide what you do not want your new college friends seeing. Learn the college lingo, like what everyone calls the dining hall or the dorm you are in. That way, you know where you are supposed to meet and to save yourself from that embarrassing mix up.
Various Other Things
Your school may send you paperwork about school insurance. If you are already covered, you will need to waive the insurance, or else it will be added into your college costs. You may want to memorize your social security number, since you will be using it often. Learn to do laundry, correctly. You do not want to ruin all your clothes. Also, be sure to bring lots of quarters. Learn to eat new foods. The dining hall will not make the same food your mom makes back at home. Get to know your college town now, so you will not get lost when you get there.