Preparing for college is typically on every college-bound high school junior's mind and is a process that can be started quite early in the high school years. Students are preparing for college every day in school and once steps are physically being taken, such as filling out applications and taking the college entrance exams, students can easily become overwhelmed if a proper plan is not set in place. Creating a calendar can reduce the amount of stress caused by preparing for college by giving the student a guideline for completing important tasks.
During a student's freshman and sophomore years, students can begin considering college and career options, make sure he/she is enrolled in appropriate classes, and get involved in extra-curricular activities.
Starting at the beginning of the year, high school juniors are taking standardized college entrance tests such as the SAT and ACT to give an idea of where they are academically. These test scores can determine which colleges will accept the student based on their desired program of study. Here are some basic guidelines for you to consider beginning in your junior year of high school.
SAT and ACT exams are very important tests that can determine your college future. Even as a high school junior, studying for these tests and preparing to take them is extremely important. Research when and where the exams will be given and begin preparing early.
Research the colleges you are interested in attending based on their programs of study and what you desire to major in. Make sure these colleges are reputable and meet your personal requirements such as location, student housing, tuition cost, financial aid, and size. If you are attending high school online, such as James Madison High School, and are interested in online college classes, make sure the college you choose has the available classes online.
Create a list of college application deadlines, test scores, and application fees. Research the colleges you are interested in attending and come up with a list of requirements.
Start thinking about letters of recommendation. Get in contact with teachers who you have built a connection with over your time in high school. It's best to contact them earlier rather than later, because there will likely be other students who are also looking for letters of recommendation and you want to give the teacher plenty of time to prepare so their work is sincere, complementary, and definitely not rushed.
Start looking for scholarships and financial aid. There are many tools on the web to help you find scholarships that you qualify for. Here is one from the college board to get you started, but don't be afraid to do a little research of your own! Fill out the FAFSA form and save money for tuition and books. You will need to be financially prepared to attend college and starting early is helpful. We put together a helpful article to get you started with the financial aid process.
Start planning out visits to the colleges you think you want to attend. If you already know students at a particular school reach out to them and see if they would be willing to host you for a weekend. It may seem awkward at first, but you can also reach out to students on Facebook. Often times there are Facebook groups for each graduating year, and you can get a lot of information about specific degrees and campus life.
Start finalizing your options. You should know by now which colleges you will be applying to. Make sure you have all deadlines organized, this includes applications, essays, and even financial aid forms. It is also important to not let your online high school academics slip! It is easy to get caught up in the future, but don't forget to keep up your diligence in the present.
You should be filling out applications to the colleges you want to attend and set aside the application fees required for each application. On average, applying to four colleges is a good start. You will also need your school to send your test scores off to the colleges. If you are attending high school online, it is very easy to coordinate with your academic advisors and have your test scores and transcripts sent to the colleges of your choice.
The process of getting ready for college may seem overwhelming at times, but rest assured that the time and effort is worth it. Keep in mind that sticking to a calendar should decrease the stress levels, allowing you to enjoy the process much more. Keep this calendar timeline handy as you move forward with your college plans.