Preparing Students for College
Student preparation for college begins long before junior year admissions testing and applications. This article provides some information about seven important things students can do to prepare for college.
Take Appropriate Courses and Put Forth Their Best Effort
Many college programs look for a “standard” college preparatory program, something like this:
• 4 years of English
• 3-4 years of math
• 3-4 years of laboratory science
• 3 or more years of social science (also called social studies)
• study of a foreign language (often 2 years of the same language is suggested as minimum)
If, however, you intend to do an undergraduate degree that is not a broad liberal arts degree, but is already specialized, such as pre-med, engineering, or a science specialty, the requirements may be more stringent. In addition, some schools want to see 3 years of foreign language study. You may wish to seek the advice of your high school guidance counselor and also check some colleges that you think you may be interested in applying to in order to set the course that will get you where you want to go. This information is often found in the admissions section of a college or university website.
Prepare for and Take Standardized Tests
While some few schools do not require any standardized tests - basing their admissions decisions on the students academic record, essay, recommendations, and the like ��" most schools require either the ACT or the SAT. Information about the SAT is available on the College Board website (see below). Both sites provide test preparation, including sample tests, and test preparation books are available as well. Also, both web sites offer college planning information. In addition, the PSAT, which is widely taken junior year of high school, serves both as an introduction to the SAT and as the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship program.
Participate in Extracurricular Activities
Admissions committees are interested in the whole student, not just the grades. Your participation in the following types of activities can contribute to your high school experience and to your success in applying to college as well:
• School Sports Teams
• Other School Teams, such as Scholar’s Bowl or Quiz Bowl
• Performing Arts
• Student Government
• School-Sponsored Publications
Gain Work Experience
Work experience can give you new insight into your tentative career choices for your future, help you understand interpersonal relationships and communication, and earn money to help fund your college expenses.
Contribute to Community Service
Whether through a school organization, such as a Red Cross Club, through a Church-affiliated group, or as an individual volunteer, you can both help your neighbors and build community. Since going to a college or university means joining a campus community, signs that you are willing to act for reasons besides your own interest are important for college admissions.
Through all of these activities ��" clubs, work, and community service ��" you will also come to learn more about yourself (what you like and don’t like so well; how you work best; your preferred styles of interaction; what roles you like to take in a group), and this is likely to help you envision how you would fit into various college communities.
Develop Persuasive Writing Ability
The essay is an important part of most college applications. And basically, however it’s framed, it’s your chance to directly persuade the admissions committee that you’re an excellent candidate for one of the limited positions they have to offer. Using the opportunity whenever you have a paper assigned to hone your writing talents, or taking a non-fiction writing course can help both with your admissions essay, and also with the writing portion of the SAT or ACT.
Sources Used in This Article
ACT Student Exam Web Site
SAT Exam Web Site
What can my child do to prepare academically for college?