The time of highschool kids looking for their college is coming up, especially for juniors. It’s hard to imagine that right as you are starting the mid point in your highschool life is the time you have to start looking for college. It can be intimidating at first, but once you realize that you are getting your own life and career started it goes from intimidating to exciting! This will be my guide to surviving college, a project I will be working on for the next few days to weeks, I will cover everything from finding your college to when things go wrong (Because we know they always do) This is my third year of being in a university, so I will be taking my own experiences along with the experiences of my friends to give you advice of how to make it through college in a question based format. What that means is that questions are asked at the beginning of each section as if the reader is asking it, and a detailed answer will be given. I hope you enjoy, and I hope that this is helpful! Let’s get started!!
I’m still in highschool, what can I do to prepare for college while stuck in this place?
First mistake that students do is think that just because they are getting ready for college they can stop caring about what is going on in highschool. You have to keep in mind that you are still there, there is still work to do. If you are a senior you may experience this terrible little syndrome called Senioritis, where you truly stop caring at all about highschool, you don’t want to do homework anymore because you are already accepted and you think that it’s over and done with. Not true! Instead you should explore what you are interested in. Thinking of majoring in psychology? Take a psychology class. Want to become a teacher? Test the waters with an early childhood class! Not quite sure, get a bunch of different classes to really dip yourself into the subjects. When you are not directly doing anything for college do something you think will help in college. Even better, take and AP class, not only will you get some experience in the subjects but it will count towards your college career! You can get some pre-reqs done which will end up helping you, think of killing two birds with one stone~
There are so many colleges out there! How do I narrow it down?
Lucky for you, there are actually sites out there that can help you with exactly that! They test your interests, what kind of school you are most compatible with, based off of what school size you want, your proposed major and what class size you want! It really helps with things. There’s collegeboard.com, Petersons.com, youniversitytv.com and a ton more, you just have to explore around the internet and find one. You also have to consider what path you are taking through your college career, do you want to start off in a community college so you can get your pre-reqs done? Or do you want to jump directly into it and mix your pre-reqs with stuff for your major? Would you like to go out of state or stay close to home? These are huge decisions to consider. Don’t feel ashamed to go to a community college to start off, many times they are considered to be fake schools, but they are just there so you can get your pre-reqs out of the way. There isn’t as much of a college feel and many of them don’t have on campus housing. Also, if you are stressed about transferring, it’s actually quite easy to transfer, if you are transferring within the first three years they don’t look at your college grades to consider you being accepted, they look at your highschool transcripts.
Alright! I found a few colleges that I am interested in, now what?
It’s getting exciting now! You have found a few schools that you think you like, the campus looks nice, and you think it’s perfect for you! But how can you know for sure? Go take a tour! Of course you can’t just walk in, you need to schedule one with the school. Don’t forget while you are there to talk to some of the advisors. They will give you a better insight to how the school operates. Sometimes the school looks perfect online, but while you are walking around you notice a ton of gum on the floor, graffiti, just not very good stuff, it’s happened to me before. The way the school is kept clean is a good indicator of how much pride there is in the school. Someone who is proud of their school wouldn’t throw trash all over the place, so keep that in mind. Also, try to dress nice, this could be the first time you meet the chair members, you don’t want to go in with your hair looking like a mess and miss matched clothes. On a few occasions, the admissions team will have a meeting with you, so be prepared for that. Don’t be afraid to make yourself seem more impressive than you think you are, it could help you leave more of an impression for when you actually apply. There’s also the fact that while on the tour, you should try some of the food! If your school has a cafeteria, you should try some of the food to make sure you like it, if you plan on going there you need to know what kind of food you will be munching on for the entire school year. If you can catch a few students and talk to them, that would be great as well, they will give you more of a real life outlook on the school through the eyes of the students, sometimes if you are lucky enough they will take you to a tour of their room! This will give you more of a realistic view of what you need for your room to function, generally, when the tourguides take you to the tour room, the room looks perfect, bright, clean, very simple, but let’s be honest, you’re going to have a lot more in your room! Like, let’s say, clothes! The show rooms don’t have fridges, garbage cans, TVs, really anything, just a few decorative things, bed sheets (Extra poofy to make the bed look extra comfortable) a desk, and of course books, because when you are in college you will be doing nothing but studying -coughsarcasmcough- So try to take a look at the real rooms, see how much extra storage you will need, how the fridge and microwave and junk will fit in. You also want to find out how many events will be going on in average, this could be a good or bad thing, if you want a quite school, you don’t want a ton of events to be going on around you, though to be honest, you barely ever realize those events are ever going on unless you actually look out for them, so even though it’s something nice to look into don’t let it kill your outlook on an otherwise great school. Don’t forget that when you get back from your tour, you need to write them a thank you letter, it might seem silly, but again, it’s all about good impressions! Make sure you include the name of your tour guide and what you enjoyed about the tour you took.
Alright! I narrowed it down to a few schools! Now what?
Apply apply apply!! Don’t just apply for one school, generally you want to apply for at least 3 schools, the one you want to go to the most, another one you liked quite a bit, and a back up school, generally one which needs a low GPA for you to get in. Now, every application is different, generally they concentrate on your GPA, what kind of extra curricular activities you took and how you did in your classes, so pretty much your transcripts, you need to order them from your school to be mailed to the college of your choice, you can’t just print it from the school site, those are not official. Most of them will ask for three letters of recommendations from your highschool teachers, make sure your teachers like you, because they can write mean things if they want.
Alright, now it’s time for the tough part of the application, the entrance essay. Each one is different, usually they give you three to chose from (you only need to pick one) they ask questions about how you deal with certain things or influential times of your life. If you get one about the influential time of your life write about something positive, like a struggle you over came. Don’t write about something sad, the admissions office reads thousands of these each year, and they don’t want to get depressed while doing it. This is the time to really let yourself shine! So make sure that you look like an optimist, not a sad sack. Make sure you have a literate friend read over it to make sure that you are getting your point across effectively.
Ok, I am applied and waiting for my acceptance letters! What can I do while waiting?
Sadly, applying for school is a huge waiting game, that’s just something you have to get over, but there is something you can do to try to make some extra money while waiting. Scholarships, possibly one of the most soul crushing things in existence. You apply and apply thinking that you have done all you can to impress them, but they pick someone else. But you’re not going to gain anything if you don’t try first. There are scholarships for literally everything out there, even for people who are left handed. Just like the school applications, they are all different, some even have you draw for the application! As you can probably guess from what I said above, the chances of you actually getting the scholarship are very low, this is a tough economy and people are doing all they can to get more money. The earlier you get these things in the better. Don’t be disappointed if you end up not getting any, you’re not the first to get denied every one and you definitely won’t be the last.
I got accepted into a school! But it’s so expensive and I don’t have enough money! What do I do?
If you are an average person, with an average income, in a struggling economy, you won’t have enough money to pay for school, didn’t get enough scholarships to give yourself a free ride? No worries. I’m going to bring something up that most people are super skeptical about, for some reason it actually seems to be a dirty word amongst students. STUDENT LOANS (Dun dun duuuun!!) A lot of you are thinking “I don’t want to be in debt!” but the fact of the matter is, to make money, you have to spend money, there’s very little chance that you will have enough to support yourself and go to college, and because your main goal is going to be college you won’t have much time to work, so take out some student loans so your can invest in your career and in your future. Many schools offer student loans to you, there’s the parent plus loan which, from what I gather, your parents pay off, that will cover a portion of your financial needs. There is also the subsidized loan, what this means is that the interest rate is set, that the interest rate you see is what you are going to pay, these are usually offered by the government. Finally there is an unsubsidized private loan, these are risky but are the most common, what it means is that the interest rate is not set, and you really don’t know what you will be paying back when the time to pay is at hand. Normally loans won’t have you pay the money back until after you have graduated, but you need to make sure that through each semester (fall and Spring, you don’t need to take summer) that you are a full time student, that means 12 credit hours a semester, or they will have you start paying them. For almost ever loan out there you need a co-signer, this will normally be your parents or gaurdian, pretty much what that is, is someone who will pick up the slack in case you are not able to pay, ie, an accident kills you. You can take loans out to cover everything, including your tuition, your books, your meal plan, and your housing, but be careful, you don’t want to take too much out, and if you find that you have extra money from the loan, pay it back right away! This will help with the interest rates in the future when you are graduated and paying them back.
Alright guys, that’s it for part one, so far you’ve gotten into college!! Congratulations! Next part will be up soon, it’s going to have something along the lines of getting your classes, ordering books, types of rooms, and making friends! Hope you enjoyed this one!