College is an important step and milestone for many young people. But before you make your way to campus to explore and learn, there are many things that you need to understand in preparation for your post-secondary career. Here are some things you should know to get ready for college.
Taking The Right Courses In High School
When you are considering what to do before setting foot on campus, keep in mind that your preparation starts well in advance. If you have an idea of the courses or programs you want to take in college, you want to ensure that you are taking the necessary prerequisites in terms of specific classes in your time at high school. You want to not only be taking the right classes, but prioritize getting the best grades. Strong grades not only increase your odds of admission, but also the likelihood of scholarships at some schools. If you know you are going into the sciences, colleges might be looking more closely at your biology or chemistry grades than history, though all grades will count toward your GPA. For advanced courses, strong grades may allow you to count those classes toward your required credits to graduate or at the very least opt out of some freshman requirements. Even if you are unsure what you want to study or where you want to go for college, there are still ways to use what you took in high school to your advantage. Consider speaking with an guidance counselor when you first start high school, alongside your parents, as well as anyone else that can help guide you toward finding that academic path to follow.
Tools You Need
When you enter college, there are going to be many things you will need in terms of either tools, equipment, or accessories. This typically translates to a laptop and the essential add-ons depending on your program needs. If your program is more focused on computer applications, you will want to ensure that you have a computer that can run the programs you need. You may need things like a drawing tablet if you are in an art program, or specialized headphones if you are studying music production. There is a good chance you will need a scientific or graphing calculator if you are in a STEM field. Your needs will vary from course to course, so check what you will need before you start.
When you are getting close to applying for college, consider looking into options to attain scholarships. There are many different scholarships to look at, from academic, to athletic. It is important that if you are trying to get financial support that you speak with your guidance counselor early on, as they will tell you what schools provide different offerings, and what grades you must maintain in order to be eligible. They are also apt to know about various local or national scholarships you could apply for. Even a small scholarship of a few hundred dollars could be textbooks for a term or two. In terms of athletic scholarships, you still need to be academically eligible and maintain a minimum GPA even if you are being offered a scholarship based on your athletic abilities. Please also avoid senioritis as having your grades slip may result in schools pulling their offers of admission or scholarship.
School is expensive, especially if you are unable to attain scholarships. Even public universities having growing tuition bills and room and board is only increasing as well. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to consider to help you pay for school. You should look at federal student loan programs as they are likely to have the best (lowest) interest rates, but there are also private options. (After you graduate you can also look at refinancing options.) There are also Pell grants for those whose family are below certain income thresholds. Some loans and school programs will have forgiveness options depended on whether you work in the public or non-profit sectors.
Ways To Earn And Save Money
Beyond tuition, money is a huge topic of discussion when you are looking at college preparation. You need to ensure that you can afford everything you need. This translates to the tuition fees, but also the equipment you need, your transportation, and your housing if you are going to school away from home. Add in the normal bills for dining out and groceries, personal spending and you costs only grow. And so you will want to earn and save money ahead of school and perhaps work during school to cover daily expenses. If you have the time in your schedule high school – and later in college - you will be looking at getting a job to help you’re your financial needs as loans, scholarships or family assistance will only cover so much in terms of school expenses.
In addition to work, you can save even more by being smart with your money and being frugal. Trying shopping in bulk at stores like Costco before school starts. This is a good time of your life to learn how to be a frugal shopper, learning to cut coupons or purchase what is on sale. Not only will college be easier, but you will develop life skills in managing your own money.
As a student, you won’t always have the amount of time you wish you have in a day. It is important that you are mindful and organized with your time, as every minute is important during crunch periods like exam weeks. Create a structured schedule to help you know how much time to dedicate to different projects will help keep you focused and reduce the amount of time you waste. This will help you manage everything you may be juggling, from work and school to meal planning and cleaning. By getting projects and papers done ahead of schedule, it will reduce stress at the end of the semester. This is also a good practice for once you leave school, as you will still need to manage balancing work, family and friends.
Socializing And Networking
One important thing about college is the social aspect of school. As crucial as grades and education are to your career, you also want to ensure that you socialize and network. You never know who you might meet that can help you kickstart your career, help with recruiting, or even start you on the entrepreneurial path toward your own business. More directly, friends will help you find what classes or professors or take, be there to help form study groups and be a support network in busier times. College gives you the opportunities to develop your social skills as well, a crucial skill to working within a team and succeeding in the workforce. In college, consider your teachers as resources that you can talk and communicate with, giving you guidance. You never know as they may be able to give you references in the future.
College is an experience that will take on average four years to complete. Whether you take more or less time, it is a crucial part of your life that will help shape your future. You want to take it seriously and be prepared, as this will set you up for success in school and other opportunities after you graduate. Education is something that will stay with you for the rest of your life and college is that first step on the road to all that you aspire to achieve!