Careers & Education

How to be prepared for college

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How to be prepared for college so that you are ready to attend university

College is a huge milestone in a personís education. Finally, you are in full control of your education. Independence is fostered by dorm living, course selection, and the college social scene.

However, this newfound freedom is often intimidating. The transition from the structure and guidance of high school to the independence that advanced education allows can prove to be a challenge for even the most disciplined and motivated student.

Luckily, there are opportunities provided in high school that give college seekers a step up on the competition.

Take challenging coursework

Many high schools provide Advanced Placement (AP) or honors level coursework to students. Honors level classes are more challenging than typical classes including a heavier workload and faster pace. AP level classes are regulated by the College Board to be equivalent to undergraduate courses in college. AP students must take a standardized test at the end of the school year in order to receive possible college placement with at least a passing score of 3/5.

Other high schools offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) program which was designed in an international cooperative effort. The IB, much like the AP, has standardized tests at the end of the school year. This program also offers undergraduate course credit, but is less widely accepted among U.S. colleges than the AP program.

Advanced courses in high school train a studentís commitment, endurance, and multi-tasking ability. Not only does challenging coursework provide an experience similar to college-level courses but the valuable skills learned transfer directly to college. This education is the basis of many college classes that will either review or build upon starting principles. And if accepted, colleges may grant you credit to place out of intro classes Ė saving both time and money.

Join clubs and activities

Find out what interests you and become a leader. High schools are filled with clubs, sports, and activities that aim at providing a social experience and training skills. If you like to write join the school newspaper or yearbook club. Feeling entrepreneurial Ė join DECA, the international association of marketing students.

A variety of junior varsity and varsity teams offer the chance to stay fit and test your athletic chops. Music, art, sports, community service, and politics Ė with a host of subjects, high school clubs should be able to please everyone. If not, then why donít you form your own club?

The important part of joining an organization is to let your own personal interests guide both what you enjoy doing and what you are good at. A club is an easy way to test your talents. Maybe youíll discover a new love for acting by joining a theater program. And even if you donít, it was an experience that will shape your future likes and dislikes. You really wonít know if you donít try.

Besides, youíre almost guaranteed to bond with the students and teachers in your club. Extracurriculars are great social, networking spaces.

Practice organization

The best part of college is that there is no designated time for anything. The worst part of college is that there is no designated time for anything.

Practice creating and keeping a schedule before entering college. Be self-motivated to stick to your plans. Plan out your week with time for classes, homework, activities, and of course, down-time. Also, it helps to keep an organized desk or work area. When everything is in its proper place you will save time searching for a lost paper or notebook.

Say ďyesĒ

Be open-minded to new people and new experiences. Put yourself out there and get out of your comfort zone. Itís easier to push yourself into new experiences bit by bit Ė so use high school as a starting point. In college youíre immersed in new people, places, and routines. One can quickly become overwhelmed and retreat from social outings. However, this is counterproductive to what college is meant for. College is meant to test your preconceived ideas, helping you grow into a more secure, independent person.

Itís not difficult to be prepared for college if youíre realistic about what to expect. The work load is demanding and time consuming Ė which is the point; your education is first and foremost. Itís important to keep yourself organized and on a schedule. Join clubs to meet students with similar interests as yourself and to explore undeveloped skills or hobbies. Keep an open mind to different ideas and opinions.

You may be surprised to hear this but itís true: the most meaningful experiences will be outside of the classroom amongst your peers. Itís a quick four years Ė enjoy the ride!

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