You may be starting to feel the stress and panic of the looming college application
process. Maybe your friends talk about it all the time, or your parents keep asking where
you want to go to college, or perhaps you have a dream school and want to do
everything possible to get into it.
Or maybe you haven’t even started to think about college yet. You have no idea what
career path you want to take, or you’re too busy with school, sports, and fun, or maybe
you aren’t even sure you want to go to college.
Don't worry; all of these scenarios are perfectly normal and understandable!
For those feeling overwhelmed, I will offer some very manageable tasks to do before
applying for college. For those of you who haven’t quite come to terms with the fact that
college application time will be upon you sooner than you think, I highly suggest doing
the following things to help you get started.
Before I launch into a “To-Do” List, I will share a personal story.
I can identify with those of you who had no clue where to start when choosing a college.
I had very supportive parents who took me on many college tours up and down the East
Coast. The problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I knew I would attend
college because that was expected of me, and college was my friends' path. I also knew
I was ready for the social life that came along with college independence. But the
academics felt a bit over my head. I knew I could do the work; I just didn’t have a
burning interest in anything.
So I ended up applying to random schools that had pretty campuses (it is important to
like where you will be living). I needed more guidance and someone to tell me it was
okay not to know what I wanted to be when “I grew up.” It was very stressful, and I could
have used an expert to help guide me. Luckily, I ended up at the right school for me and
even figured out a major. I am still happy with my choice of colleges, and, most
importantly, I have made life-long friends.
I wish for you ease. Here are three simple tasks you can do in January to prepare
yourself to apply for schools. You should start a college folder to stay organized.
1. Keep up with your schoolwork. Yes, it is true; the higher the grades, the more
selective schools you may get into. It is important to remember that you will be
successful when similar-minded students surround you. Grades are important,
and you always want to try your best. Now is not the time to slack off.
2. Form relationships with a few teachers. You will need recommendation letters
eventually, so build the connections now. It’s not always comfortable speaking
with teachers, but if you make a little effort to stay after class to ask a question or
participate more in class, it will go a long way to forming the rapport you need in
order to get a recommendation. TIP - pick teachers from courses where you are
doing well and trying hard!
3. Evaluate your extracurricular activities. Start a document and jot down all
your activities in and out of school. These activities include athletics, clubs,
performances, volunteer work, and student council. You can even include paid
work as it shows commitment and responsibility. Most applications leave space
for ten activities. It isn’t imperative you fill every activity spot, but you should look
at your list and see where you can improve. If you haven’t participated in
anything, then join something ASAP.
You will feel prepared for the next steps of the college process if you complete these
tasks sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until the last minute to gather everything you
need. Make your life easier!