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6 Things High School Freshman Should Know About the College Search

Categories: Admissions Advice

AP ExamWhen freshman enter high school, college is probably the last thing on their minds. There are just so many other important things to think about, like, where it’s okay to sit in the cafeteria, and which teachers check homework every day and getting from X hall to J hall before the 3 minute bell!

It’s a crazy world in those high school halls, especially for a newbie.  What’s even crazier is that it’s actually not that crazy to start thinking about college once you catch your breath.  It may seem unnecessary at the time, considering you still got 4 more school years to go, but in the long run, it will actually ease the stress your college search.

Here are 6 things college-bound high school freshman should keep in mind:

1.  Start Early
Freshman year of high school seems early to to start your college search.  But, it’s more about mental preparedness than anything else.  The college application process is like a 3-ringed circus that you have to run while keeping up with your high school classes. The more you can prepare yourself for it, the smoother time you’ll have.

Sit down with your high school counselor.  Make sure you’re on the path to graduate on time and that you’re taking classes required for most colleges.  Discuss your future with your parents so you can all be on the same page about your goals. College is a big deal–financially and academically–and will have a huge impact on your life. So, how could it hurt to start thinking about it?

2. Find a Passion or Hobby
There are too many students out there who just phone-in volunteer hours so it will “look good” on their college application.  Yes, extra-curricular activities, leadership and volunteer services will make your college application appear more well-rounded.  But, college admissions folks weren’t born yesterday. They can tell the difference between surface-deep involvement in an activity and a heartfelt one.

A passion or a hobby can be anything.  Sports, birdwatching, an after-school job, tutoring, etc.  Find or continue doing what you love and what interests you.  It will be easier, and far more fun and motivating to grow and find leadership positions doing something you love versus something you think will look good on a resume.

3. Reach Out to Teachers
Your teachers are probably the most underused resource you have.  If they’re teaching at your school, they went to college and can offer up words of wisdom.  Ask questions about how they discovered they wanted to become teachers or if they know any field of study that you’d be interested in.  Just because it’s not on the syllabus doesn’t mean you can’t ask.

It’s also great to keep up a healthy relationship with a couple teachers because you might need a letter of recommendation in a few years.

4. Every Year Counts
Certain colleges will tell you that they disregard Freshman year from your transcript and GPA. For the most part, this is not the case. Do not throw away your freshman year out of the belief that “it doesn’t matter”. All of your grades go into your GPA, so keep up with your schoolwork.

Also, if you get involved in activities your freshman year, you’ll have more flexibility to move up and take on leadership opportunities that a person who starts in a club their sophomore or junior year won’t have.

5. Plan Your Summer Smartly
The summer going into your sophomore year can really set the pace for the rest of your high school career and college search.  Think about your priorities.  What do you want to be able to tell colleges when you apply to them?  If you want to show them your work ethic, perhaps taking on extra hours at your summer job is key.  If you want to show them you’re passionate about volunteering, volunteer! Apply for an internship at a local charity.   Use your time in the summer not only to have fun, but to keep yourself growing as a college-bound student.

6.  Keep an Eye Out for Scholarships
Paying for college is no small feat. In fact, if it were feet, it’d be huge feet.  There are tons of scholarships out there. Some are small. Some are huge.  The earlier you start looking and applying for scholarships, the more likely are you to acquire some scholarship money before you head off to college.

The sooner you start, the more ahead you’ll be in your college search.

Do you have tips for high school freshman about beginning their college search early? Comment and let us know!

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