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How to Prepare for College While in High School

By: Katelyn Fahrenbruck Weston

Students who are wondering, "What can high schoolers do to prepare for college?" may see the tasks ahead of them as daunting, but it's important not to put it off. For those interested in pursuing higher education, it's important to plan and prepare along the way. Students should start figuring out how to prepare for college while in high school by setting goals and working with their guidance counselor to achieve them.

What Can High Schoolers Do to Prepare for College?

The most important thing for students to do is to prioritize education above all else. Colleges want to see that the students they accept are smart and motivated self-starters who will provide good representation for their institution. The most obvious approach to how to prepare for college in high school is to get good grades, but it's also important to look at the courses you're taking to earn those grades. Colleges value applicants who are willing to challenge themselves by taking the more difficult classes schools have to offer. High school courses matter to colleges, and more advanced courses are weighted more heavily than the easier alternatives, making applicants who challenge themselves look more appealing.

But making yourself look good on college applications doesn't end when the school day ends. What can high schoolers do to prepare for college outside of the classroom? Demonstrate that you are a well-rounded person by taking part in after-school activities, an internship, or volunteer efforts in your community. Showing that you have interests and experiences outside of school can mean a lot to colleges, especially if these activities are related to your potential major. It also looks good if you have a leadership role in those activities.

When Should You Start Preparing for College?

Some college readiness experts suggest that the answer to the question, "When should you start preparing for college?" could be as early as sixth grade. The college admissions process can be competitive, and those who wish to go to Ivy League schools or other colleges with low acceptance rates should start early.

However, the most commonly accepted time to start getting ready for college and your career is around freshman year of high school. Freshman year offers a chance at a clean slate for students who maybe didn't do their best in middle school but now are ready to step up their efforts. Freshmen wondering how to prepare for college in high school can start by setting small goals: getting to know their guidance counselor, taking a class that will challenge them, and taking on roles in extracurricular activities or volunteer positions. These are the three most essential steps a student can take to prepare for college early on.