So much of your time in high school is focused on preparing for the future. There are AP courses, options like Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO), meetings with your guidance counselor, and classes on life skills, such as finances.
But with all this preparation, how can you know if you’re truly ready for college? With so many options for preparing and so many requirements from colleges these days, it’s tough to discern what’s necessary and what’s just extra. If you’re looking for a simple list that will help you ensure your college readiness, look no further. We’ve put together a few helpful to-do’s for you to focus on as you look forward to the next step in your education.
1. Choose challenging courses
Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to be enrolled in six AP classes at once. However, picking one or two challenging courses to add to your high school repertoire will certainly help you understand what college coursework might be like. Not only will you develop the skills necessary for taking classes at a university in a couple years, but if you take an AP class and pass the test, you’ll get college credit that will allow you to skip a similar course requirement in college.
There’s no doubt about it: AP courses can be challenging. The tests are tough and a lot of intentional studying is required. However, the perseverance and critical-thinking skills you’ll gain far outweigh the momentary struggle of those late-night study-group sessions. If you’re taking a college-level course and struggling through the content, reach out to a tutor or your teacher for additional help.
2. Get involved with extracurriculars—but not too involved
It’s true: your extra-curricular activities do make a difference on your college applications. Being involved in a sport, musical instrument, club, or theater group shows that you’re a well-rounded individual and that you have the capacity for more than just academics.
In this day and age, however, it’s easy to get inundated with opportunities and completely overbook yourself. Even if you’re the type of person who likes to keep busy and can handle a lot, be careful about the sacrifice of time you’re making. Ask yourself if you have enough time to properly devote to your academics? Are you constantly stressed or running to the next thing? It’s important to reevaluate what you’re involved with each quarter and make sure you’re not overdoing it.
3. Practice self-management
While college centers heavily around the academics and classes, it’s about more than just making the grade. Practice self-management skills before you head off to school, like doing your own laundry or taking over grocery shopping for your family one week.
Once you get into college, for the most part, you’ll be managing your own finances, monitoring your own health, figuring out where to go to church, and taking care of your everyday needs without your mom helping you out. Getting some of these skills under your belt before you’re on your own can be really helpful in prepping you for life in college.
4. Set some goals
Your whole life, you’ve been in school, working toward the goal of graduation. Having had a built-in life plan so far may have made things seem simple. Once you’re at your chosen university, however, you’ll need to start setting some goals of your own, and that type of thinking can take some practice. Start small and mull over some short-term goal you can set now that you’re still in high school. Try and make them unrelated to college, and make sure they’re attainable.
Goals like learning a new skill over the summer or getting a job somewhere are great starts. Start thinking ahead now about what you might want your future to look like, so when the time comes to set some long-term goals or figure out what you want to major in, choosing an area of interest won’t feel quite as difficult.
Ready, set, jump!
Just like any major life transition, there’s no one qualifier that pinpoints you as ready or not ready for college. There’s plenty you can do to prepare, but a lot of it is simply walking into that next season of life with open hands. Preparation is good, and you’ll simultaneously learn as you go.