Starting high school can be seen as the first step towards the college educational journey. Although it is an exciting time in the lives of teenagers, it is also a pivotal time to get serious about your academic performance in preparation for the college application process. For some, preparation for college can begin as early as middle school, however, most begin the process sometime in high school. For a guide to help you navigate college planning each year of high school, visit this article. This article will provide you with general information to help you prepare for college.
Key Factors for College Preparation
Academic Success: Your academic profile is a very important piece of the college admissions process, which means it is very important you do well academically in high school. Your academic profile consists of several aspects: grades, class schedule rigor, and standardized test scores. Maintaining a high grade point average (GPA), while taking Honors and AP classes will help increase your chances for admission to college. Obtaining a high score on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT also contributes to positive admissions decisions. Taking test prep courses will help enhance your test scores.
Extracurricular Involvement: Being involved in activities inside and outside of high school showcases your ability to manage your academics and multiple activities. It is key to have leadership roles within these activities. In addition, involvement in activities that are in alignment with your area of interest (intended college major) communicates a high level of interest to colleges. Being heavily involved in one or two academic areas of interest versus slight involvement with four or five activities demonstrates dedication and true connection to your academic area of interest. Review your school’s club and organization list to select meaningful activities.
Experiential Opportunities: Having the opportunity to participate in an internship, work within a non-profit organization, or conduct research with a faculty member is a great experience that will be highly considered by college admissions offices. Colleges look for students who go beyond the normal engagement within their academic area of interest. It is key to seek out opportunities that will enhance your knowledge and provide hands-on experiences. This will not only increase your learning, it will also display your desire to have an impact in the field. Research websites for high school students to find internships in your academic area of interest.
With college on the horizon, extensive research will help with college preparation. There are many things to consider when researching colleges, and the following is a great start to help narrow down options:
- Geographical location
- School size
- Public or Private
- Financial costs
- Major availability
- Specialized programs
- Club and organization availability
Once you have narrowed down your options, plan a college visit. Planning a college visit is a great way to step foot on campus and get a sense of the campus culture. See if you can visualize yourself walking to class, and thriving in that environment. If time and cost are a concern, you can begin this process by visiting your local college(s). College admissions offices usually offer information sessions and campus tours on a regular basis. Be sure to visit the admissions website of your college of interest to schedule a visit.
Be on the lookout for college fairs in your area. Attending local college fairs is another way to gather information and learn more about colleges and universities in the surrounding area. College representatives attend these fairs to meet with prospective students and their families. This is an optimal time to meet admissions officers and ask specific questions about the admissions process and academic requirements. Visit the College Fair Guide to gather information about local and regional college fairs in your area.
The college planning process can be difficult to navigate. Working to build your academic success, extracurricular involvement, and experiential opportunities can become overwhelming if you don’t have someone to help guide you through the college admissions process. If you need any assistance with college planning, contact us today.
Former Recruitment Coordinator and Admissions Counselor at the University of Michigan
4 Years in University of Michigan Admissions
1 Year in University of Michigan Architecture & Urban Planning Admissions
4,000+ Applications Read and Evaluated
Dr. Makeda Turner has close to 20 years of experience in higher education, encompassing admissions, academic advising, and instruction. She spent 17 years at the University of Michigan, guiding high-achieving students through college exploration.