The best time for high school students to start getting ready for university is now. We've compiled a list of the top seven tips to help you prepare for college in high school.
Start Preparing for College Now
It may seem odd to start preparing for college while you're still in high school, but it's essential.
Colleges base your admission decision on your grades, extracurricular activities, volunteering, and community involvement in high school, so what you achieve and do now has a direct impact on your future.
Use these tips to help you better prepare for college.
Tips to Prepare for College in High School
While the list doesn't cover everything, these tips will help you as you prepare for college.
Tip 1: Determine if College Is the Right Path for You.
The first thing to do to prepare for college in high school is to determine whether college is the right path for you. Going to college is an investment, and like any investment, the benefits should outweigh the costs.
There are several factors to consider, such as family commitments, cost, time commitment, and relevance to your career plans.
Depending on what you want to do for a living, a college degree may or may not be required. Even if the role you want doesn't require a degree, you should consider whether a college degree will help you advance in the future.
You can examine the qualifications required in the careers or fields that interest you. Talk to people in the industry, search job postings to see their qualifications, and use online resources to find more information about a career or field.
Check out O*Net's My Next Move to explore careers. For each job, the site tells you:
- What the role is.
- The knowledge, skills, and abilities required.
- The personality best fit for the job.
- Technology you'll likely use.
- Education requirements.
- Job outlook.
Tip 2: Maintain a Strong GPA.
One way to prepare for college in high school is to maintain a strong grade point average (GPA).
Your high school GPA impacts your future college career.
How? First of all, most colleges and universities require a minimum high school GPA for admission.
Also, the amount of merit aid you're offered for your first year of college is based on your high school GPA. For example, Concordia University Texas offers freshmen generous merit scholarships.
The higher your high school GPA, the higher the merit award for which you qualify.
Tip 3: Research, Research, Research.
Finding the college that's right for you typically takes time and a whole lot of research. That's why it's necessary to begin to prepare for college in high school.
Here are some factors to consider during your research.
Public or Private? In or Out of State?
A great place to start your research is to decide whether you want to attend a private or public school and whether you want to go to a school in or out of state.
Public schools usually have lower tuition rates. However, if you go to an out-of-state public school, tuition increases dramatically. Tuition at private schools is the same for in-state and out-of-state students.
Student Organizations / Greek Life
If you're interested in joining a specific student organization or participating in Greek life (fraternity or sorority), make sure the colleges you're looking at offer them.
Concordia University Texas doesn't offer Greek life on campus but has all sorts of student organizations, from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to the Student Government and Leadership Association.
Along with considering how far you'll be from home, take a look at the area that surrounds the school. Is there easy access to stores? Do you have access to internship and job opportunities? Are there fun activities nearby?
A majority of universities require students to live on campus for a specified period of time. If you want to live at home or plan to get an off-campus apartment, ensure that the universities you're considering allow exemptions.
Other factors to think about are your faith, what you want to study, class size, modality (on campus or online), and career preparation resources. Learn more about these factors to consider during your college search.
Tip 4: Visit College Campuses in Person.
A college campus is a college campus, right? Not necessarily.
Each university's campus is unique in multiple ways. The most effective way to see if the campus is a good fit for you is to see it for yourself.
To prepare for college in high school, visit every school you're applying to with your family. You will be able to tour the facilities and get an overall feel for the campus community.
Tip 5: Apply Early.
Another key top tip to help you prepare for college in high school is to submit your college applications as soon as possible.
The application process differs among universities. Some schools institute application deadlines, some offer early application options, and others have what's called "rolling admission."
Schools that employ a regular application deadline wait to receive all applications before evaluating them.
With no restrictions, you can apply to as many schools as you want through this method. The major drawback is that you have to wait until the spring semester of your senior year for an admission decision.
Universities with an early application option allow students to apply within a specified time frame (before the regular application deadline) and receive an admission decision sooner.
There are three types of early admission options:
- Early Decision — You can apply to only one college for early decision admission. It's binding, meaning that if you're accepted through early decision admission, you must attend the college.
- Early Action — You can apply to multiple colleges for early action admission. It isn't binding, so if you're admitted to a college through early action admission, you don't have to attend.
- Single-Choice Early Action — You can apply early to only one college and no others until you have heard back from the first school. You're not bound to attend if you're admitted.
Learn more about the important differences between the three types of early applications.
Schools that use rolling admission evaluate applications as they come in, alerting applicants of an admission decision within just a few weeks. They receive applications until all spots for the incoming class are filled.
Like regular admission, you can apply to as many schools as you want through rolling admission.
Regardless of which application methods you use, make an effort to submit your applications early. In addition to checking it off your to-do list, you may have a better possibility of being admitted.
Tip 6: Submit the FAFSA.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form you use to apply for financial aid.
The financial application determines if and how much federal aid you qualify for, and universities use this information to create the entire financial aid package they offer you.
Navigate the financial aid process with The All-In-One Helpful College Guide to Financial Aid.
Keep in mind that you do not have to accept any of the financial aid offered to you, whether it's loans (must be repaid), gifts (not repaid), or a mix of both.
Tip 7: Find Scholarships.
You're not limited to the financial aid a university offers. You can find external scholarships to help fund your education.
There are scholarships for a range of different things, including academic achievement, church denomination affiliation, writing an essay, and more.
Through RaiseMe, you can begin earning money through micro-scholarships. Learn more about how this program can help you prepare for college in high school.
About Concordia University Texas
Founded in 1926. Concordia University Texas is proud to be Austin's leading Christian university where Christ is honored and students of all backgrounds are welcome. We are guided by our vision to be the premier university where the adventure of faith, learning, and life-changing experiences leads to meaningful work.
CTX is a regionally accredited institution of higher education, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees through a variety of delivery methods. We offer more than 20 majors across four colleges.
Concordia's campus, unique in its natural setting on a preserve, is conveniently located minutes from both downtown Austin and the Texas Hill Country. Our location provides you with resources and opportunities to learn, explore, and thrive in the best of both worlds — a small school and a big city.
We invite you to visit our campus and talk with one of our admissions counselors for more tips about how to prepare for college in high school. Schedule your visit to Concordia University Texas today!
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