The Long Journey to College

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You are a freshman in high school. You are barely thinking of what you are going to wear the next day, never mind planning out your entire future. You are just worried about the here and now; your friends, boys and school. Now hold on to that last one, school. When you are a freshman in high school and planning to go to college the choices you make during these pivotal years are extremely important. If you are thinking, “I don’t need to think about college now that can wait until I’m a junior or even a senior.”, you thought wrong. Getting a jump on college in you’re freshman or sophomore year can be what gives you the edge over thousands of competing applicants.

When you are a freshman you do not need to be looking into college avidly, just have it in the back of your mind. Pick tougher classes and try to meet your school’s academic requirements. Colleges generally look for four courses of English and Math, Three courses of Science or History, two or more foreign language courses and other relevant electives. Be on the lookout for honors or AP (Advanced Placement) courses available to you. Study hard and do your best in the classes you are taking and choose challenging classes for next year.

When you are a sophomore you may take the PSAT, practice SAT, in the fall. You may take this now, in your junior year or both times for more practice. It is important to take these tests if applying to college because they will help you get a better score on the all-important SAT. Sophomore year is a good time to start thinking about what you want from a college. What size should it be? Where should it be located, in a city or the country? How much does it cost and how is the financial aid? What majors are you interested in and does the school offer that program? By sophomore year you should have some idea of what colleges you may want to apply to. Check out college web sites to find out about student life, academics and costs. Try to have your mind in a good place by the time you enter your most important year, your junior year.

The junior year is probably the most important year of high school. This year you should focus on your classes because admissions officers to college often focus on your transcripts for your junior year. You should be preparing to take the SAT in the spring. You may take the SAT in fall of your senior year but most colleges will want their applications by a certain date so it may be easier to get it over with in your junior year. By the end of your junior year you should have pretty solid list of colleges you are looking to apply to. You may even want to start visiting campuses to get a feel for what the college is really like. By the end of junior you should be prepared to apply to your choice colleges at the beginning of your senior year. You are in the final stretch of the application process.

As well as focusing on your grades from junior year, colleges focus on your grades from first semester senior year so continue working hard. Ask your teachers for recommendation letters early to give them enough time to get it done. Start in on your college essays, what some people consider to be the hardest part of the application process. Find new and creative things to write about in your essay, so you can catch the reader’s eye. Most colleges want their applications in by December or January so in your second semester senior year, all you have to do is wait for acceptance letters in spring. Many seniors get what is called “senioritis”. This means once college applications are out they stop trying in school. Did you know some colleges would accept then reject seniors who slack off in their second semester of senior year? Well now you do, and now you know to stay as far away as you can from the dreaded senioritis.

Once acceptances come in the ball is in your court, so to speak. Now you get to choose where you want to go from the colleges that accepted you. Make your decisions wisely because if you hadn’t notices college is a huge investment of your time and your money, although it will pay off in the long run. College students make a substantially larger amount of money and are more likely to get jobs than those with just a High School diploma. Once you choose your college, enjoy it. Enjoy the freedom and of course work hard towards your goals. The long journey to college is finally over but the long journey of life is just beginning.





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