If you want to be successful in a particular career field then attending college is one of the most rewarding things that you can do. It is estimated that college graduates can earn as much as 56% more than Americans that do not have a degree. Though the process of finding and applying to a college is stressful, it is completely worth it. There are also many ways that you can make the process a little less painful.
Start Writing Your Application Work Early
Your college application essay is one of the most important things that you can write. You do not want to find yourself sitting and staring at a blank Microsoft Word document a matter of weeks before your essay needs to be submitted with no clue what to write. Starting your college essay plenty of time in advance allows you the opportunity to play around with plenty of ideas and draft and redraft numerous times before you find the perfect article. You should think about this as early as the summer before you actually need to apply in order to get a head start.
Put a Lot of Thought into Your College Essay
Even if you have thought of the perfect topic for your application, it would be foolish to just go ahead blindly and write it with no additional considerations. You need to do a lot of prep and research ahead of applying for college. Read examples of successful college essays, take advice from successful applicants and people working at colleges, and gain second or third opinions by having people around you check your writing.
Understand Where You Want to Go
This sounds like an obvious suggestion, but when it comes to choosing the college that you want to attend, the earlier that you have an idea of your preferred schools, the better. This is especially the case if you wish to attend an Ivy League school. Narrow the list down to around 5 or 6 preferred schools and research what they look for in college applicants.
Be Informed About College Life
You may have distant dreams of attending Harvard, or Berkeley, or any number of other prestigious schools, but as well as having an idealised image of what life as a student at a particular college could be like it is also important to understand the reality. This includes all aspects from what the facilities, classes and lecturers are like, to local nightlife and places to grab dinner. If you know someone that already attends your dream college then you can reach out to them with questions. Alternatively, many college websites include practical information and student testimonials. You can also reach out to the college admissions office and ask your questions.
Consider Attending Summer Learning Programs
Summer programs for middle school students are a great way to understand what subjects you would like to pursue further. You can attend such programs while in middle school or high school and they allow you to trial a number of different classes. Not only does this help you decide what you want to do, it also demonstrates to future colleges that you are serious about your studies.
Review What You’ve Learnt in Class
Usually, the bell rings at the end of the day on Friday and students run out of the classroom as if they have just been set free from jail. Work is only reviewed when homework is set, but if you want to get a head start on college, it is better to regularly review what you have learned. This will help you be better prepared for those all important end of year exams and will take the pressure of when it comes to being time to revise.
Teach Yourself Important Life Skills
College isn’t just studies and parties, it is also the first time that you will be living away from home and your parents. You may have read that last sentence thinking “hooray freedom!!!” But with freedom also comes the less pleasant responsibilities – like having to cook, wash the dishes and clean the toilet. Teach yourself a few basic recipes and learn a few skills before you go. That way you won’t be stuck eating noodles all the time because you never learned how to boil an egg.
Research the Classes Offered
Perhaps you are sure that you would like to do something business related but you are uncertain as to whether Business Administration or Economics would suit you better. Not to fear! You can simply read the syllabus and the course structure on the college sites and determine specifically which one would be better for you personally.
Take on Extracurricular Activities
Colleges value students who are well rounded and take on outside interests. If you are not a member of any clubs then now is the time to consider joining one. If you want to be a Journalist, consider writing for the school newspaper. If you want to study physiotherapy, join a sports club. The additional benefit of this is that such clubs also expand the scholarship opportunities available to you.
Start Making a Financial Plan
Ugh. Financial plans are not exactly the sexy part of college life but with the average college graduate finishing their studies with over $30,000 of debt, it is important to be informed about this. Making a plan now as to what grants, scholarships, and part time work opportunities are available to you will make you less stressed during college and decrease your chances of having to refinance your student loan later.