Assessing Academic and Career Goals
The first step in starting a college plan is for students to assess their academic and career goals. Students explore questions such as what is the career path they want to pursue, what type of degree do they need to achieve their goals, and what kind of academic environment is best for them. They should also consider their strengths and weaknesses as a student, as well as their interests and passions. These factors will help determine what kind of college or university is best for them. But, they need a methodology to do this: exploration needs to be done with a guide, whether a resource in the school or externally, to help one cut through the noise toward an understanding of innate interests and abilities and then to add skill and understanding in advance of college. This point is key, especially with college costing upwards of $320,000 – college is no longer a time to fumble around toward one’s calling but instead, a place to pick up the phone to call out to the world with more purpose.
Finding Your Perfect College
Once academic and career goals are assessed, students should research different colleges and universities that align with their goals and interests. They should consider factors such as location, size, academic programs, extracurricular activities, and campus culture. Students can find this information through college websites, college rankings, and college visits. Again, without a filter, a guide, this information is not relevant to the life experiences of a high school student. But with such a person, the variables come together like an elegant equation, often solving for “x” in ways that are clearer than imaginable.
Getting Ready for the SAT or ACT
Another important step in starting a college plan is preparing for standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT. These tests are often required for college admission and can have a significant impact on a student’s chance of getting accepted into the college or university of their choice. Therefore, it is important to start preparing for these tests early and to take them up to three times, if necessary. Consider diagnostic tests in March of 10th grade to pick which test, prepare, and plan.
Building Your Academic and Extracurricular Profile
An important aspect of starting a college plan is building an academic and extracurricular profile, i.e, the narrative. Colleges and universities are looking for students who have demonstrated academic excellence as well as have selected extracurriculars that align with a narrative toward an understanding of a path forward, if not an understanding of career and major. Therefore, it is important to take challenging courses in high school and to get involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs, and volunteering. This resume, ultimately, should provide a point of view, a perspective.
The College Application Process
Students should provide ample time to complete college applications while finalizing college visits. College visits can help students get a sense of the campus culture, possibly meet with admissions officers and current students. This experience can help them make an informed decision about which college or university is the best fit. But, first, knowing oneself is more essential than the college itself. The best college search starts within.
Transitioning to College Life
Once a student has been accepted into a college or university, the final step in the college plan is to prepare for the first year of college. This involves selecting classes, meeting with academic advisors, and preparing for the transition to college life. Students should also consider joining clubs and organizations on campus to meet new people and get involved in campus life. Remember, college GPA and internships become essential, using the principles of getting into college to apply toward preparing for work and life, but all in due time.