College Countdown: Your Ultimate Guide to the Exciting Journey Ahead


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So, you're wondering what to do to prepare for college. Your college application is already in the post, but rather than sit back and wait, you want to ensure you're prepared for this next stage. Here are some tips to help you prepare personally and academically for your college education.

It's Never Too Early to Start Planning

While the following tips are designed for anyone who's nearing the end of their high school education, there's no reason why you shouldn't start planning for college much earlier. There are plenty of things you can do to prepare for your postsecondary education.

College might seem far away, but it'll be here before you know it. High school provides many opportunities, so it's down to you to take full advantage of them. Here are a few quick tips:

• Take the right high school classes to prepare for college: Take the most challenging classes available, as they will help develop your skills in studying, writing, note-taking, test-taking, critical thinking, time management, and much more.

• Get involved in extracurricular activities: Getting involved in activities outside of your coursework makes high school more interesting and fun. You'll also develop important skills such as creativity, teamwork, public speaking, leadership, and self-awareness.

• Keep a record of extracurricular activities: You might be asked about these when completing your college application.

• Speak with your high school guidance counselor: Your guidance counselor is a great resource for social and emotional support as well as college and career readiness.

College Readiness Skills

There are some important life skills you should learn before you head off to college. Think about the skills that'll be useful and how best to learn each one. Here are some suggestions:

• Cooking skills: Ask your mom or dad to teach you how to cook your favorite meal

• Checking your car's oil and changing a tire: Perhaps a neighbor can help with this

• Doing the laundry: Your mom might be able to teach you the basics

• Setting short-term goals and making plans: Ask your mentor or teacher for guidance

Other important skills to learn include grocery shopping, money management, and personal safety.

College Visits

Visit as many college campuses as you can during your high school years. Don't wait; do every visit during your senior year. Try to time your visits during the school year when the campus is most active. However, if this isn't possible, a summer visit is better than no visit at all. Visits can last just a few hours or possibly the whole day, but plan to spend at least an afternoon looking around.

College Entrance Exams

College entrance exams have become important student benchmarks, so be certain to familiarize yourself with standard college entrance exams. Also, check what's required or recommended by the colleges that interest you.

US colleges generally accept the ACT or the SAT, but some might prefer one over the other. In addition, some colleges also recommend or require the optional writing portion of the exams. Some students take both standardized tests, but it's up to you to decide.

There are no easy shortcuts when it comes to preparation. The best way is to take challenging coursework while in high school and to learn the material as well.

Get Organized

Once you start looking around and approaching different colleges, you'll gather lots of important information. It's important to keep it organized, so consider creating a document where you can collate and record important information to help you remember.

Apply for College Admission, Financial Aid, and Scholarships

Once you've made a list of your favorite colleges, create a new document to help you with the application and admissions process. Make notes of all application deadlines, guidelines, and any other requirements. If you asked mentors or teachers for letters of recommendation, create reminders to follow up and confirm the college has received them.

During the start of your senior years, plan time in your schedule to properly focus on college applications. In addition, check your financial aid and scholarship options. Remember that financial aid takes many forms, not only scholarships and grants. There's always the option of taking out a loan.

Something else to think about is whether you'll need a part-time job to help pay for your college lifestyle and help pay for college.

If you want to ensure you're ready for college, you must take a holistic approach. College readiness encompasses many aspects of your academic preparation, such as the basics of note-taking, studying for exams, reading text, and writing essays. It also includes the development of certain life skills such as money and time management and goal setting. You also need to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and be able to take the initiative to work out what needs developing.

The time you put into college preparation and work lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning and academic success.

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