How to Prepare For College

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  • Preparing for college begins before starting high school as the student’s choice of a middle school can have a bearing on his or her academic success. Do well in middle school and you can find yourself ready to take Advanced Placement classes in high school or a curriculum that will be most conducive to ensuring your success when attending college.

    Eighth Grade

    The choices students make in high school will have a profound impact on their college studies as well as their lives beyond academia. That realization may not be fully understood to young minds, but it is easily something an 8th-grader can understand.

    The 8th-grade student is at a pivotal crossroads academically. He understands his strengths and weaknesses as well as his likes and dislikes. This year can be ideal for the student to meet with his guidance counselor to discuss his academic future. Students should know about the school that they will be attending, the courses offered, the classes scheduled. Words he may never heard of before such as elective, prerequisite, class rank and graduation requirements should be understood.

    Study Habits

    Sound study habits established in the younger years can help students succeed in high school. Those study habits should be refined throughout the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years, to give students the tools they will need to succeed while attending college.

    Students can pick up and improve their study habits by first setting goals. Goal-setting makes it possible for students to achieve what they want and to prioritize their studies. High school students should become familiar with "to do" lists and use these to stay organized. Note-taking is critically important as those notes will help students prepare for examinations.

    Get Writing

    We live in a day where penmanship has fallen to the wayside. That does not mean, however, that you can not still learn how to write well. All you need is a computer and a keyboard and your writing skills can begin to crystalize.

    Students that are seek to write effectively should consider their style of writing. First, start with an outline, to include a robust opening sentence. Second, consider several key points that you want to make, being certain to clearly state your point. Third, wrap up your writing with a compelling conclusion. Fourth, proofread your work and make edits.

    Look Ahead

    Your high school years should be enjoyed. They go so fast, but they are also memory makers to reference for a lifetime. Your academic pursuits are very important, but high school will teach you much about building relationships.

    Each year of high school provides a stepping stone to the following year. It is important for high school students to know what courses are required and to complete these with the best grade possible. Come junior year, high school will change dramatically for it is that year that students take preliminary college entrance examinations and also are expected to achieve academic success. Your junior year grades can be very important when applying to college especially if you are an early decision applicant. By your senior year, the toughest part of your secondary education should be behind you, but your final year should be used to maintain your good grades, apply to college and enjoy your remaining months of schooling.

    Your Calendar

    High school students should have a calendar or personal planner available to make certain that every goal is outlined and every deadline is met. That planner should be used before the start of the senior year and can include a number of important features.

    First, list your choice of colleges. The list does not need to be firm, but it should be something that you can work toward. You will modify the list as the school year begins, narrowing down your choices before the calendar year comes to an end.

    Second, visit your colleges. You may have made some visits between your junior and senior year. You will want to make more visits during the first part of your senior year. Remove from that list any college you visited that is not right for you.

    Third, note each college application deadline. Plan to write your college essays months in advance, working on drafts and fine tuning each one as you assemble your applications, references and related material.

    Fourth, take your college entrance examinations. Retake these again the following spring if you need to raise your score. Work on maintaining or elevating your grade point average.

    Fifth, inquire about financial aid. By January, you can fill out your FAFSA and complete your college applications. Review your SAR once your financial aid information has been made known.

    Sixth, review your acceptance letters. Carefully examine what colleges accepted you and the financial aid offered. Base your choice on the school that is the best fit for you, putting your financial needs second. Notify the school you choose to attend and notify the schools that you won’t be attending. Maintain your grades, enjoy the last few months of high school and graduate with your class.

    Author Information
    Kristen Thomas is an avid blogger and contributor to, a leading day care franchise company providing quality child care.

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