The senior year goal post looms large on the horizon. High school will soon be in the rear view.
Or so it can seem, even if you’re a high school freshman or sophomore. Whether it’s months or years away, college life will come calling soon enough. So what now? Is there really much you can do to prepare for transitioning to college?
The answer is an emphatic yes. Read on to grab some tools to help you stay organized and de-stressed on the road to launching your undergraduate career.
Five Prep Steps
1. Take Care of Yourself
Identify and confront personal problems that seem to be interfering with your life and responsibilities as a student. That can be a tall order but sourcing guidance and other forms of help from friends, family, mentors, coaches, counselors, or anyone else you trust is the smart play. Managing potential roadblocks to academic success before you get to campus will help you get the most out of it when you’re there.
2. Hit the Books (before you Hit the Books)
Undergraduate study will throw more (and more challenging) required reading at you than you’ve encountered before. Get in shape by stepping up your extracurricular reading during high school and especially during the Summer before college. Quantity matters but so does quality—follow your muse and read what interests you. Get as many recommendations from as many reliable sources as possible, then dig in.
3. Put Aside the Books and Get Involved
According to a 2016 Harvard report, colleges can help de-stress the admissions process for applicants by de-emphasizing test scores and emphasizing real-world engagement through things like service, volunteering, work, and other activities that bring students into contact with their communities. The key is to find the right balance. If you’re not engaged, get engaged by finding an activity or issue you’re passionate about and finding out how you can get involved and make an impact. But beware diminishing returns: if you’ve got more than three such irons in the fire, you’re probably overloaded.
4. Conquer the Application Process by Imposing Order on the Chaos
The application process can become an overwhelming ordeal if you don’t get out in front of it. But once you’ve decided where to apply, you can tame the whirlwind of documents, brochures, business cards, transcripts, login accounts for different schools’ application portals, and so on, into a manageable system.
Find a system that works for you, but a simple spreadsheet can help you organize your account information and personal notes on each school, keeping it all in one place. Try using a checklist (manual or digital) to mark off each school’s application requirements as you complete them. You could also adopt the use of a project management software to keep your applications organized. This will not only keep everything you need in one place, but allow you to add a skill to your resume by learning how the software works. These and similar methods will help you keep track of what needs doing, what you’ve done, and what’s left.
5. To Work or Not to Work
The question whether to get a part-time job while in college is tricky: it can help cover day-to-day expenses beyond tuition and fees, but it can compete with your main responsibility: academic success. Weigh the pros and cons with trusted advisors and discuss financial expectations and boundaries with the folks.
There’s no shortage of stressors on the road from high school to a successful undergraduate experience. The tools we’ve covered can help you see them coming and stay on top.
|Taylor McKinney is a Marketing Specialist and writer. When she is not writing about the latest tools and small business trends she is enjoying Austin’s beautiful scenery with her family.|