Even if high school graduation is years away, college planning should start in college. Setting goals now and working towards them will pay off in the admissions process later.
To begin smart planning for college, students should:
1. Establish good study habits
Students can start by establishing effective study habits, developing a homework and study routine, and getting organized. The student must master the art of completing homework on time and paying attention to communications sent by teachers and school. These habits will serve the student well before the work goes upmarket in terms of rigor.
2. Choose demanding courses
Colleges pay special attention to the courses taken by an applicant. They want to see that a student enrolls in rigorous courses and does well. Students who challenge themselves in college will have more opportunities to choose high school courses that colleges like to see. One goal may be to take full advantage of the AP/IB or other higher-level courses offered by your high school.
To ensure that the door to their future goals remains open, parents and their students should meet with their guidance counselor and their International College Counselors advisor to discuss what courses a student should take in college. For example, if a student interested in engineering does not take algebra courses in college, it will be difficult to achieve the high school math sequence required by engineering programs. A college student probably doesn’t know what they want to study, but they’ll want to keep their options open. Students should also consider starting with their world language, as many colleges require students to take it in high school.
That said, don’t rush to put your child in high school level classes while they’re in middle school if you don’t know how they might do it , because those grades will show up on the high school transcript (and therefore affect the high school GPA). Grades from middle level classes do not appear on the transcript and therefore will not form part of the college application. Discuss the possibilities with your child’s teachers and counselor.
Improving academic performance in college will position them for better grades, which will help keep academic options open in years to come. Parents should stay on top of their child’s grades and keep in touch with teachers and counselors, so they can be more easily informed of any changes in behavior or school work.
4. Discover extracurricular activities
When applying to college, students must demonstrate depth and leadership in at least one or two extracurricular areas. By beginning to explore their college interests, students planning a college education in college will maximize their chances of determining the community activities and services they enjoy most. Students should talk to different people about their careers and explore sports, hobbies, and volunteer opportunities that match their interests. A child entering high school engaged in
one or two pursuits or with a possible career goal in mind will find it much easier to build their resume during their four years of high school.
5. Read, read and read some more
Reading builds a student’s verbal, writing, and critical thinking skills. Reading also improves memory, concentration and communication skills. Reading also prepares students for SAT, ACT, and high school reading assignments. Almost any reading medium – from graphic novels and journals to books and blogs – will improve vocabulary and introduce new ideas.
Imagine the future with your child. Talk about how college can turn your student’s dreams into a career. Help them understand how different high school and college are from college. Parents should also share their expectations with their student; your expectations have a huge influence on what your children expect of themselves.
6. Familiarize yourself with tuition fees and how to save money
Options for reducing college costs include scholarships, low-interest loans, work-study, or attending community college before going to a four-year school. Students can also cut costs by earning college credit through Advanced Placement (AP) and/or dual-enrollment classes at a local community college while in high school.
Although we have offered several tips for college students and their parents to start the college journey, neither parents nor students should worry about it now. The most important thing is to get study habits, academics, and extracurricular activities on track so that there is less stress in high school. We strongly recommend that you think about these things now, before high school begins and the real pressure of college applications begins. This means that the process will be much easier.
Make the journey to college even easier. Get your student started by working with a college advisor who can help guide the process, from course selection to extracurricular activities.