Top 10 Tips for College Bound High School Students

Are in high school and looking to attend college? These top 10 tips for college bound high school students will help you ensure you are prepared to apply to college when the time is right.

1. Career Exploration

top 10 tips for college bound high school students

Deciding on a degree can be daunting before going to college. However, if you start early this may save you money and time in the future. There are many resources available to you. This website offers information on different careers, academic requirements, salaries, and employment growth.

If you have not taken the free career test yet, it is highly encouraged. This will give you a starting point to narrow down your chosen field or gain more information in an area you think you may want to study in college. Whatever you do, make sure you also take your time and research the career or careers you may be interested in. It is advantageous to check out the growth rate and salary as well when doing this.

2. Get Good Grades

This seems obvious, but your GPA is by far the most important factor an admission office looks at when you are applying for college. It’s vital to focus on getting good grades. Even if you struggled with the transition from middle school to high school, your junior year is the most important, because most students start applying for college their senior year. You might end up using transcripts that may not necessarily have all of your senior year grades since you may still be attending school and haven’t graduated yet.

There are a few tips to help you get good grades. Start big assignments sooner than later and this will help you manage your time better and allow changes if necessary which often leads to better grades. You can also set aside time for homework with no distractions and ask for help if you don’t understand something. It’s important to get a good night sleep as well so you can more effectively learn while at school.

3. Research Colleges

You may have decided where you want to go, but you still need to contact the admissions office to find out what that school’s requirements are, the application deadlines, and take a tour before you make your decision. Most high school students apply for more than one school to ensure they get accepted. For more information on what to look for in a college, take a look at our article Top 10 Things to Look for in a College.


4. Look for Scholarships

For Year now universities and colleges have risen their rates, therefore it may lower the cost if you start applying for scholarships as early as your junior year of high school. There are a variety of scholarships based on academics, characteristics, or even odd scholarships they you may never have thought of. In addition, there may be grants available as well. Both of these provide monies that does not need to be paid back and can be used towards lodging, books, materials, college classes, and even living expenses while you are attending school. Check out our “How to Fund College” for more detailed information.

5. Standardized Assessments for College Entrance

Most colleges and universities require students to take the American College Test (ACT), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), or the Accuplacer. SAT and ACT standardized assessments are the most often requested scores. These tests are designed to determine a student’s college readiness and potential for academic success. If you are not great test takers, don’t fret. Keep in mind that these scores are only one component admission considers. You should still take them seriously though.

There are prep courses that can help you study and even prep tests, such as the pre-SAT and preACT tests. These prep tests give you an idea for the test itself and how well you are tracking. Taking these prep tests can be especially useful for those of you that may have test anxiety. Colleges also do not see your PreACT or Pre-SAT-scores, so take advantage of this opportunity prior to taking the real test. You can also take the ‘real’ tests more than once, but make sure you schedule wisely so you do not miss the deadlines.

The Accuplacer is an entrance exam that is often used by community or state colleges. This is an exam that you can take in high school or at the college you plan to attend. It consists of Mathematics, English, and Reading comprehension. It’s not a timed test and it is computerized. This exam varies on the number of questions pending on how many you get incorrect or correct. This test is based on your skill level and is used more as a tool to place you into the appropriate level courses when starting college.

6. Extracurricular Activities

When applying for college, admission offices often look not only at your academic record, but they also want a well-rounded student as well. Their goal is to ensure their student population has people with various interests and backgrounds. This means that they look at extracurricular activities such as clubs, performances, sports, internships, volunteer opportunities, or community service projects. These activities demonstrate that you are able to balance academics and leisure at the same time showing colleges your determination and time management skills.

7. Recommendation Letters

College applications often request letters of recommendation. Your letters of recommendation can be from teachers, couches, or mentors that you have had throughout high school. It’s important to plan to collect these letters by the application deadline. Ask for recommendations from teachers you have a good rapport with and know you. Asking early gives them an opportunity to do a good job. Often, they may need to send the letter of recommendation to the college or submit it online. Make sure to give them the correct address and information. These letters often describe you character as a student during high school and may list some accomplishments.

8. College Essays

Some colleges may require you to write an admission essay. It is their way to capture your characteristics beyond just grades and assessment scores. Write your own essay but have others proofread it. You also want to be careful not to use the exact essay for every college application. Make small tweaks to ensure it is relevant to that particular school and double check the address or college name if you included it in your essay.

9. Filling Out the Application

Each school has an admissions process.Always check the deadlines, requirements, and additional items that need to be included. Many colleges have gone to online applications that allow students to create online accounts. This allows you to come back and complete it prior to submitting the final draft. Essays, transcripts, personal information, declaring a major, and additional information is often required.

If a college application provides you the chance to include optional materials, always try to include something when possible. This indicates to the admission staff that you will go over and beyond. This could give you an edge over someone who does the minimum amount of work. Pending on the school you are applying for, applications and materials are reviewed by admission representatives to determine if you are a good fit for their school. They review grades, test scores, letters of recommendations, essays, and extracurricular activities.

10. College Prep Classes

College prep classes are a good way to gain skills to be successful in college. Many colleges or universities offer summer programs that prep high school students for college success. These programs offer career exploration, study skills, and academic tools that may be useful when transitioning into college. There are even college readiness courses offered at some high schools for junior and seniors. These are very similar to the ones offered at colleges may help guide you in researching schools, applying to colleges, and writing admission essays. For more information ask you high school guidance counselor or your local colleges admission’s office if they offer prep courses.