What’s going on everyone? Do you remember what high school was like? High school was alright for me. I graduated more than fifteen years ago. I remember going to football and basketball games. Once 11th grade came around, I knew that it was time to start focusing on my future. I knew that I wanted to go to college, but didn’t know exactly what to do. Thankfully, I had people such as my mentor and my mom to help me out.
Today I want to go over college planning for high school students. I will have some tips for juniors and seniors.
Make a list of possible majors and careers
You might not know exactly what you want to do in life and that’s fine. However, you should write down a list of things that interest you. Think about what kind of career that you may way to have. Don’t worry if you get stuck. I changed my major a couple of times in college.
Make a list of colleges that you’re interested in
Create a list of colleges that you are interested. Make sure that the major that you are considering is offered at the school. Your list should have at least five schools on there. You can add or subtract schools from your list after you do more research. The list of schools that I considered going to was Savannah State University, Johnson C. Smith University, FAMU, North Carolina A&T and Morris Brown.
Schedule visits to the schools that you are interested in. This should be down in the springtime. If you’re tight on money, visit one or two of your choices. I only visited Savannah State. That was enough for me. I chose to continue my education at SSU.
Create a calendar
Make a calendar with dates and deadlines for important tests, applications, and paperwork. This is crucial. You want to make sure that you adhere to all deadlines. Turning something in late or not at all could jeopardize your college decision.
Talk to your guidance counselor
If you don’t know who the guidance counselor is, take some time to get to know them. They will help you with any questions that you have about high school and college. They will also be able to guide you towards scholarship opportunities
Make sure that you are progressing towards graduation
Continue to attend class and make good grades. As a junior, you can’t afford to slack up. You haven’t even made it to the 12th grade yet. Stay focused and keep your GPA up.
Register for all senior year courses that you need for graduation
When it’s time to register for your senior classes, make sure you choose the right ones. You want to make sure that all your classes and that you will be able to graduate next May or June without any problems.
You should take the PSAT in October. It’s required for you to be eligible for National Merit, National Achievement, or National Hispanic Scholarships. The PSAT will also give you practice for the SAT as well.
Take the ACT/SAT
You do not need to take both exams unless you want to. Schools accept both exams, but you only need to take one. I only took the SAT while I was in high school.
Register at least a month before the test. It will give you ample time to study and prepare. The ACT/SAT aren’t easy tests. You can’t just walk in off the street and expect to get a high score. Taking time to study and prep will help you though.
If you plan on taking AP courses, register to take them in the spring.
Build your resume
Get involved with extracurricular activities, volunteer projects and sports that you enjoy. There are various clubs that you can join. Figure out what you’re interested in and check them out. I wish I would have participated in more groups in high school.
Create a portfolio of your best papers, reports, and projects. Highlight your special skills and interests. If you won any awards, make sure you have some documentation and list that on your resume.
Get a summer job or internship
People love to chill and relax during the summer. You can do that later. This is the time for you to either get a job or an internship. Both opportunities can help you out in the long run. Your summer job can help you pay for the college application fees. Your internship can give you a foot in the door for a possible career after you get our college degree.
Explore your financial options
Attend an open house and financial aid workshops at your colleges of interest. This is key. Some people don’t go to college because they think they can’t afford it. At financial workshops, the speakers will go over different options. That can include scholarships, grants, and loans.
There are thousands of scholarships out there. You just have to find them. There are several places to look for them. I wrote a post featuring ten places to look for scholarships. Check it out here.
If you haven’t taken to ACT or SAT yet, take it. Don’t forget to register for the test at least one month in advance.
Make your decisions and apply to colleges
Remember that list of schools that you came up with during your junior year? It is now time to apply to the schools that you are still considering. Make sure that you fully complete the applications. Also, make sure that you have the money ready for the application fees.
Keep copies of everything you submit and make note of submission dates. You need those things for your records.
If you receive an admission packet, follow all directions for acceptance, orientation, and other requirements. Read through the information thoroughly.
Continue building your resume
Keep a file of important documents and notes, including copies of report cards, test scores, and lists of awards and honors.
Assume leadership roles in school and extra-curricular clubs, activities, and sports. Doing that will help to shape you as a person. Leadership opportunities also show that you are good with people.
Apply for the FAFSA which is available after January 1st
The FAFSA is the free application for federal student aid. It determines your eligibility for federal financial aid. It is good to apply for financial aid as soon as possible.
Make sure that you pay attention to deadlines. The colleges that you apply to will have a priority financial aid deadline. Make sure that you turn in ever document before that date.
Continue to search for scholarships
I’m not a fan of student loan debt. It’s one of the reasons I still can’t do some things that I want to in life. My suggestion for you is to continue your scholarship search. The money is out there, but you have to go out and find it. Here’s the link some scholarships again.
Successfully finish high school
Senioritis is real. Halfway through my senior year, I began to feel it. You will too, but don’t let it stop you. Stay on course to complete all of your core classwork for graduation.
Request that your high school sends your official transcript to the college that you decide to choose.
Decide on a school to attend
Once you started receiving acceptance letters, decide which school you want to attend. Send back all corresponding info to the school. Review your award letter and make sure that everything looks good. If you have any questions, call the school.
Preparing for college can be tricky if you don’t know what to do. Hopefully, this post has made college planning for high school students just a little easier.