It’s never too early to start planning for college. You don’t want to burden yourself by spending all your time in the present exclusively worrying about future. The future will come soon enough.
Enjoy today, but always keep one eye looking ahead. If you are looking to jumpstart your academic future, here are a few ideas to help you start planning for college early.
Start saving money. College isn’t cheap. You need to understand how you’re going to pay for school before you get there. Are you going to work while you study? Are going to take out loans? What about scholarships and grants? If you’re ready to begin preparing for college, you need to consider your funding choices. There’s plenty of money out there, so be sure you understand how to get it.
Start taking college prep and community college courses while in high school. Beef up your academic transcript by taking (and doing well in) college prep courses in high school. If you feel like high school isn’t challenging enough for you, then start taking community college courses when you are 16 or 17. If you take a class at a community college you can transfer the credits to a four year university and get high school credit for your out-of-school work. If you have the smarts, bypass high school altogether by testing out.
Start thinking about what it is you want to do with your life. Self-reflection is a huge part of the college preparation experience. You need to ask yourself who you are, what you want out of life and what you want to do for a living. Probe into your interests deeply, and be honest with yourself about what you find.
Start thinking about where you want to live and learn for four years.If you want to live in Northern California, then don’t apply to Boston College. You will not be married to your college town, but you will be linked to it intensely for a few years. Make sure you’re happy about where you end up. Visit any schools you apply to so that there will be no surprises about the campus environment and surrounding areas.
Start tackling some extra-curricular activities. College preparation requires that you show interest in things outside of the classroom. Start a German club or learn how to play the piano. Try out for your junior varsity football team and volunteer time at a hospital or nursing home. Whatever you do, try to look busy. Admission officers love students that possess proven dedication and full schedules.
Start developing good study and time management habits. Take school seriously and develop your own style of learning. When you get to college, it’s just going to be you, your study habits and your time management skills. Make sure you’ve honed them properly so that you can hang when you get to your university.
Don’t forget to enjoy your time as a young adult. Planning for college is important, but so is balanced living. If you stress yourself out too much in high school, you run the risk of having way too much fun in college. If you get some of those jollies out early, then by the time you get to your university, you’ve already had your fun, and you can focus squarely on the task at hand. Start preparing for college early, but just remember not to freak out.
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