How to prepare for college life?

Publication date:

Many people ask – what exactly does it mean “to be ready for college”? The following tips can help high school students get highly organized and build a strong foundation for incoming college success!

It isn’t a secret that high school years are one of the best and, at the same time, the hardest times of your life. In high school, you have a great opportunity to develop yourself in different ways, explore areas you like, and dream about a variety of things. Before a freshman year, it’s hard to decide where you want to go to college or what branch you want to study. But your heart will be filled with enthusiasm that moves you towards selecting a great college suitable for you. First of all, prepare yourself for the following challenges you will face once you start your education. These 11 tips on how to prepare for college will help you.

1. Do Not Hesitate – Start Preparation Now!

If you are already a high school student, you should start preparing as soon as your freshman year by focusing on your academics. You may think that college is far away from you, but later it appears that it’s here before you know it! Preparing for entering a college is overwhelming and stressful, so take your time and begin the process early.

How to choose a time to start preparation?

There is a variety of opportunities provided by high schools, so you need to pay attention to them. The best way not to lose your high school time is to think ahead and decide on how to act in the nearest future. Don’t be afraid to take the first step and make up your mind about making the most of the upcoming years. Remember that all your efforts will be paid off!

2. Attend Classes That Will Prepare You for College

Be ready to work hard in high school. Take classes that can prepare you for the educational journey ahead, even though they are the most challenging. Moreover, you should work hard on developing your personal skills, like notetaking, critical thinking, studying, writing, speech, etc.

How to get prepared academically?

Numerous high schools provide Advanced Placement (AP) classes, others offer International Baccalaureate (IB) courses plus Dual Enrollment opportunities, which allow you to earn college credits. Dual credit for IB and AP classes is formed on taking the corresponding IB Higher lever examination or AP test at the end of courses. But take into consideration – there can be a difference in the required scores between colleges.

Also, you can boost your Grade Point Average (GPA) by attending advanced classes such as AP or achieving Honors. Another advantage of taking part in IB, Dual Enrollment, AP or Honor level courses is that they are fixed on your high school transcript, and college administration will be aware of you choosing to challenge yourself academically.

If you find difficulties in choosing the right class, focus on your academic interest. For instance, if your career goal is to be a doctor, emphasize science classes such as biology and chemistry.

3. Engage yourself in Extracurricular Activities

Activities outside of the high school make this time way funnier and more useful. Extracurricular activities upgrade your important skills, such as public speaking, leadership, teamwork and self-awareness, which cannot be learned through textbooks and tests alone.

What extracurricular activities should I do in my high school years?

Start with exploring. Beginning high school means finding new entertaining opportunities: theater, sport, music, art, studying computer sciences, etc. You can’t do everything simultaneously, so try to involve yourself in as many clubs as you find interesting!

But to understand what you are into, firstly try it. Keep an eye out for those clubs that can help you in mastering future college specialization. For instance, if you’re focused on earning a business degree, find out if your school offers a DECA chapter or other relevant association in this area.

There are many reasons that it’s highly important to use your time wisely during your high school years. So ask yourself a question – what activity is the most meaningful for you? How can you develop any chosen area into a true significant passion? How can you take your involvement to a higher level? How can you become a true professional, an expert in that field of activity? Answering all these questions can make you shine on a college application or while qualifying for a scholarship. Turning interest into a passion can direct you towards an area of study and choice of career.

4. Keep a diary about your Extracurricular Activities

Make notes about your extracurricular life. You may need this while applying for a college because admission counselors like to get to know your hobbies, interest and other personal features of you.

To be prepared for college applications, you should create a document that contains your involvement in clubs, volunteer work, additional courses, part-time employment, your taking part in school public life and so on. Keep track of the time you spent on each of your extracurricular activities and look for trends that highlight your involvement in noteworthy activities. What is even more important, paper down all your honors, academic awards and leadership positions. The importance of recording such a list is obvious – it can help you obtain your dream scholarship or even build your CV in the future.

It is troublesome to remember everything you accomplished. So we would like to quote a Chinese proverb here that says: “Your memory is only as good as the paper you write it on.”

5. Meet with your High School Counselor

You likely have a high school guidance counselor who will instruct you on your way to college admission. Every student should meet with their counselors because this person is a paramount asset in your high school education.

A guidance counselor is aware of the propositions and opportunities your school offers, including attending your education place by college admissions officers, college fair, scholarships and much more. This person can guide you through ups and downs and support you in discovering the driving force and passion you need to transfer into income on your career path.

But counselors usually are too busy and overloaded, so try to make their life easier by coming to an appointment with already formulated questions. Moreover, don’t expect to take too much time at every meeting. And always be thankful for every piece of advice, information and help you receive from your counselor.

6. Develop Relationships with Life Mentors

Your life consists of many amazing people who can provide beneficial support for you. That can be teachers, coaches, religious leaders or just a close person to you that can make you say, “I want to be like that when I grow up.” Do your best to find such people in your life. They can provide you with an incredible experience of their mistakes and successes you can rely on.

What is more important, they can reveal opportunities to you, help to strengthen your strong sides and beat your weaknesses. Building connections with a mentor is a skill you will develop throughout your life. And maybe once, hopefully, you can become a mentor for somebody else!

7. Work on Life Skills to Facilitate Your College Success

To help yourself, create a list of the life skill you want to develop the most and continue filling it in. Think through the best possible ways for you to learn about each of them. For example, your dad knows how to cook your favorite meal? Ask him to teach you. Your mentor or professor can help you obtain the skill of setting short terms and making a plan to achieve them? No doubt they will help to do so! Many things you can teach yourself, such as money management, grocery shopping or personal safety. Others can be learned by watching an online tutorial.

Everything you have to do is to create a clear plan and set an objective, like learning and practicing one new skill every month.

8. Plan a College Campus Tour

Try your best to visit as many college campuses as possible. Even though it’s best to visit during the school year when campus life is vigorous and bright, a visit in the summer is better than no visit at all. Aim to spend an afternoon on campus, but you can adjust the time of a visit to your liking. You should spend a little time preparing to make the most of your visit. Before an actual campus tour, you can contact the university’s admissions to register for a campus tour, attend an information session or just try to find something useful on your own. It will give you a lot of crucial info about what the pros and cons of a school are.

9. Prepare yourself for exams

College entrance exams are one of the most important new student benchmarks. Do not fall into panic, they are beatable, but you might want to prepare yourself. The most effective way to prepare for college entrance exams is to take highly challenging coursework and learn the material as hard as you can. Moreover, tests are timed, so you will also have to learn strategies for pacing yourself. But the most important thing to remember is to keep pushing and don’t give up if the first tests didn’t go as planned. Many students decide to take the entrance exams more than once and succeed. In that case, use your prior results to focus on your preparation for the future test.

10. Stay organized

Make a document where you can record and organize important information, so you don’t forget something vital. Write down information about the best schools for your major, study abroad programs, campus tour experiences, etc. As you move towards your senior year, you will have a highly organized, objective, and clear list of colleges that are the best fit for you. Every piece of information will guide you towards making the best decision for you.

11. Apply for Scholarships, Financial Aid, and College Admission.

The moment you make a list of your college favorites, create a new document for further application and admissions process. Use it to write down information about application deadlines, guidelines, and any other requirements. To be able to focus on your college applications, scholarships, and financial aid, plan time into your schedule during the start of your senior year. Keep in mind that financial aid includes loans, grants, and scholarships.


Follow these simple tips and face your freshman year fully prepared.