Preparing for college

Your journey to college begins freshman year of high school. What can you do to prepare?

1.  Get involved!  
Find something you really like doing, and dive into it. Sports? Student council? Music? Art? Robotics? You’ll develop skills and make yourself more appealing to colleges.

2.  Do the work.
If you expect to go to college later, expect to study now. No one can do it for you. Grades count, including freshman year.

3.  Take challenging courses.
Colleges look at your grades, but also at the difficulty of the courses you took. They want to see that you have challenged yourself. Advanced college credit and AP classes can give you a low-priced head start to earning college credits while you are in high school.

4. Get help before you fall behind.
Having trouble in a class?  Talk to teachers and counselors, who are eager to help you succeed. Form a study group.  Find a friend who can tutor you. Go to Saturday School, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. most Saturdays at Gladstone High.

5. Read.
Read at least 30 minutes every day, beyond study and homework.  Read what interests you — magazines, novels, Internet articles, whatever.  People who read more know more. And you will build important skills for your college entrance exams.

6. Anticipate college entrance exams.
You will take the PSAT (a practice SAT test) as a sophomore. Consider taking the PSAT again as a junior to try for Merit Scholar recognition. Consider an SAT prep course early junior year. Plan to take the SAT or ACT as early as spring of your junior year. You can take it again fall of senior year.

7. Get the college bound facts.
Who do you know that attended college? Ask them for help early junior year as you begin your planning process. Seek help from your teachers, your counselor, your parents, or your coach.  Bring your parents to college information nights at school. Visit the websites of colleges and universities.

8. Involve your family.
Even if your parents have not attended college, they can help you stay on the right path.

9. Look for a mentor.
This may be your club advisor, your coach, a family friend, a counselor, someone at church, or a teacher you connect with. A mentor can support you and give advice.

10. Confront personal roadblocks.
Don’t wait. If you have a problem getting in the way of schoolwork, sort it out.  Talking to friends helps. Or look for an adult — parent, counselor, nurse, teacher, coach — who can offer advice.