College Advice Blog

Oct 17, 2012

College Bound: How to prepare the year before going off to college

Every May, thousands of high school graduates head off to different universities and colleges across the country. For four long years, these students have been academically preparing themselves for the endless demands of college, but hitting the textbooks and studying for exams is only two of the many ways students must prepare themselves for college. Although there is no universal way to prepare for college, there are definitely a myriad of things a student should take care of in the year before starting their freshman year of college. If you're a college-bound student, work in these five agenda items in the year before you jet off to college.

Study for the SAT and ACT
Truth be told, you should take the SAT and ACT during your junior year of high school so you can judge how much you need to improve your scores by your senior year. Students who delay taking the test until their senior year often struggle to increase their scores in the necessary amount of time. Furthermore, it's difficult to know where you'll likely to be accepted into college if you don't have an idea of where your SAT/ACT test scores fall. No matter how well you do on your tests during your junior year, however, always make sure to take the SAT and ACT again during your senior year. As long as you study hard, you'll likely improve your scores, which will increase your chances of getting into a better school.

Visit college campuses
It's hard to know what school you want to attend if you don't even bother to visit college campuses. Whatever you do, don't choose a college without visiting the campus first. Sure, you might think you know a lot about a university by researching it and looking at promotional pamphlets, but it's important to feel a school out before you make any final decisions. Furthermore, not knowing the layout of a university can be quite stressful once you start school, so go ahead and select a few weekends to visit different college campuses. Go on campus tours and spend a few days taking in the views, tourist attractions, restaurants, shops, and other popular destinations. In doing this, you'll know for sure if a school is the right fit for you.

Apply for scholarships
Scholarships are something you should be thinking about all throughout high school. You can apply for them starting from your freshman year and the more you apply for the more you're likely to receive. Believe me, college isn't cheap, so it's wise to consider how you're going to be able to pay for your higher education. Even with financial aid, it still helps to have a few scholarships to fall back on through your four years of college. The last thing you want to do is bury yourself in a ton of debt and student loans simply because you were too lazy to fill out a few applications and write a few essays. Don't pass up the opportunity to get a few scholarships; it will save you thousands of dollars later down the road.

Choose a major
Some people are born knowing what their life's calling is, others must wait to hear their calling. Regardless, it's smart to start considering what major you might want to pursue, since you'll probably have to declare a major once you officially enroll in a university or college. Students commonly select majors based on career goals or life passions, so take some time to consider what it is you might want to do with the rest of your life. That might sound like an intense question for a teenager to answer, but it's better to start thinking about it now as opposed to late into college. Don't get too worried or anxious if you don't know for sure what major you want to choose. Usually taking a few college classes will help point you in the right direction.

Get in the school spirit
Last, but certainly not least, it's important to start getting in the college spirit! Having school spirit helps students feel a strong sense of pride and belonging, which definitely helps in adjusting to college life and being away from home for the first time. So, go ahead and start finding out more about your university, such as the school mascot, school colors, school songs, football rankings, popular traditions, school legends, etc. It can't hurt to start stocking up on merchandise like university apparel as well.

Your senior year of high school is an exciting time, but don't get so caught up in all the anticipation that you forget to prepare for college. If you haven't already, make sure you take care of these five agenda items before you walk across the graduation stage.


About the Author
Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger for Her articles cover topics related to trends in education, student advice, and teaching methods. You may reach her with your questions or comments at BLauren99 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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