Start on college admission requirements early
You're in your junior year of high school, you're making good grades, and you know you want to go to college. You may think that, because college application deadlines are a year away, you don't have to make any preparations yet. But the fact is, if you want a shot at acceptance by the country's best colleges and universities, the time to act is now. With just a few simple steps, you can move ahead in the college admission process, and reduce stress and anxiety later on.
Keep the college admission process organized
During your junior year, you're likely to start receiving pamphlets and brochures from colleges and universities. Resist the temptation to toss them all in a drawer until next year. If you take just a few moments to go through these letters and packages now, you can begin to make choices that will smooth the later stages of your college search.
Think about the location and size of the school you want to attend. This will help thin out that pile of mail and narrow your list of prospective colleges and universities. Now think about the areas of study that might interest you. If you're interested in engineering, for example, you may want to rule out those schools without a strong undergraduate engineering program. If you take the time, you should end up with a short and focused list of prospective colleges that are likely to fit your needs.
Talk to schools about their college admission requirements
Although college fairs can seem overwhelming, they offer a unique opportunity for you to evaluate a large number of schools and universities all in one place. Think of it as one-stop shopping. And remember, the schools are shopping too. They want to find the most motivated students to fill their undergraduate programs.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you want to know where a particular college or university stands in terms of its academic programs, average class size, athletics, or financial aid opportunities, now's the time to ask.
Also, an individual college or university may send a representative to speak at your school, providing yet another opportunity to ask the questions that will help streamline the college admissions process.
Take the PSAT
Although PSAT scores are not typically part of college admissions requirements, the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test) offers you two unique opportunities: first, to become eligible for National Merit Scholarship awards, and second, to sharpen your test-taking skills for the SAT exam.
You must take the PSAT at your high school (or one in your community). The test is given in October. Talk to your school counselor to get the test date and sign up. Once you know the test date, you can set up a self-paced schedule that lets you prepare for each section, with time to focus extra attention on the subject areas in greatest need of improvement.
Meet with your counselor
At many points in the process, you will find that there's no substitute for some one-on-one time with your counselor. Counselors are there to help, so bring any questions you have, and don't be afraid to ask for college admissions assistance. They know you're just starting out on this journey, and that it can be confusing, and they have the expertise and resources to point you in the right direction.
Meeting other college admissions requirements
There are several things you can do to make yourself more attractive in the college admissions process.
First, keep your grades strong. Colleges look to your academic performance for clues to your motivation as well as your intelligence, and they want motivated students who are eager to learn.
Second, get involved with extracurricular activities, or if you already are, stay with them. Colleges and universities are attracted to multifaceted students who are able to show their talents and leadership skills, whether in athletics or in academic clubs and organizations.
Third, investigate scholarship opportunities—there may be scholarships available in academic areas where you already excel.
Fourth, you may find it helpful to prepare an academic resume listing your achievements, interests, and goals.
Finally, you may also want to tackle an apprenticeship or part-time job in your area of interest. It's a great way to show colleges and universities that you're committed to an area of study.