College Prep Year by Year

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Going to college is one of the toughest decisions you are going to make in your lifetime. It is important that you plan ahead in order to accomplish your goals. Time goes by so fast, which is why it is essential to prepare yourself at an young age. In order to be well prepared for college, follow these tips years by year:


Middle School:

During this time, you and your parents should create a savings plan for college. In the savings plan you or your parents should deposit at least 5-10% of from the monthly income. It is important to start saving money for any college expenses that might not be covered by either financial aid or scholarships. For additional college savings tips, find role models or people who inspire you, such as relatives who have attended college and ask them questions about how they saved up to pay their tuition.

Now that you have your college savings plan in place, it’s time to boost your college application. Meghan Renee Martinez, 15 year old sophomore suggests, “I would say try your best at school and become dedicated to school work.”  You should challenge yourself by taking Honor or Pre-AP classes while you are in middle school. Join a sport, club, choir or band which will prepare you for future activities you might want to join and put on your college applications in high school. If you want to take your high school experience to the next level, you should think about applying or attending a college prep high school. Some high schools offer special programs that will prepare you for college and will be able to take some college classes as part of your curriculum.

Freshman Year:

During your first year in high school you should get involved and join a sport or after school activities, such as Student Council, French Club, Chess Club or National Honors Society.  ”Practice good study habits like studying in advance for upcoming tests, read your text books and keep up on assignments,” advised Janette Mendoza, a high school senior. As a freshman, you should keep a close relationship with your counselor and check with him or her about your college plans, selecting a university, and taking classes that will get your feet wet in the career you plan on pursuing. Your freshman year is a good start toward researching your dream career, what it takes to succeed, and what colleges or universities will help achieve your dream.

Sophomore Year:

During your second year of high school, you should  become more involved with the community and keep that GPA high. Volunteering in different activities outside of school will help you to gain valuable experience.  Always help your community by volunteering or joining local organizations. To boost your academic standing, it is essential to register for IB, AP or Dual Credit. “Take AP Classes, so you can get the college experience and start earning college credit,” added Janette Mendoza, a high school senior. Meghan Renee Martinez explains that, “My high school has many options in choosing classes to help me prepare for college. Especially testing that can tell me where I’m at academically and what I can improve on.” Your class selection can be your stepping stone in getting started on your dream career. You should look for a career that you like and try to do something similar to that career to see if you like it. The website http://www.collegeboard.org/ offers tools and information to help you apply for college and pick a career that’s right for you.

Junior Year:

Fall/Winter

It is important to take the PSAT and other tests required for college so you can have enough time to retake these tests, in case you need a higher score to enter the college of your choice. The Princeton Review is a great program that prepares you for the SAT, ACT and other tests. Check the website www.princetonreview.com/ to see if the program is being offered in your area. During this time, you should research admission requirements. If you want to study out of town, you should explore the websites of colleges that you would like to attend. An important tip is to talk to your high school counselor about career and college options because they can give you advise that will guide you towards the right decision.

Spring/Summer

During your second semester, you should apply for scholarships that are available for juniors. The website www.fastweb.com is a great search engine dedicated to scholarships. During the summer, you should make various decisions. Think and decide what college is best for you: a 2-year college or a 4-year college, the size of the college, and the location of the college. Look at the websites of colleges that you would like to attend and get information about that school, including how much it costs. Narrow down your search to your top 5 colleges and start preparing the admission applications. Most college applications require a letter of recommendation, so don’t be afraid to ask your teachers or extracurricular activities leaders.

Senior Year:

Fall/Winter

Now it’s time to submit applications for the colleges of your choice and to continue applying to scholarships.  Double check the admissions criteria, including the submission deadline, and fill out the admission packet. This may include obtaining letters of recommendation and writing entrance exam essays to finalize your college application. You’ve been preparing yourself since middle school, you’ve got this in the bag! Attending college forums offered by your school district will help you stay on track with what to expect during the college process, but don’t hesitate to contact your counselor if you need help with your application.

Spring 


After Graduation:
The first thing that you should do as your last semester of high school starts is to apply for FAFSA and continue applying for scholarships. Now is the time to make the decision of which college you are going to attend. In order to make this decision you should think about all the costs you are going to have, such as room and board, transportation, food, books, etc. Compare it with the other colleges to see which offer is the best option for you.Once you make your choice, accept the offer from your dream school!

Do not forget to send your official transcript to your college and to attend orientation. Now you can enjoy your college experience!

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