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Middle schoolers, I know college probably seems a million miles away, but believe me, time flies! The sooner you start thinking about college and what you’re interested in, the easier your choices and big decisions will be later on. High schoolers, not to scare you, but your time is now!
Classes—make sure you are taking the right classes that will make you eligible for college, such as the A-G requirements of the CSU and UC. Take as many college preparatory (AP and Honors level) courses offered at your school to remain competitive. Counselors and college advisors are an excellent resource to assist you with academic planning, so use them!
Tests—take advantage of any tutorials or workshops for the SAT and ACT. If your school offers the PSAT, take it, as it is very good practice. By the end of your 11th grade summer, you should have taken both standardized tests. That way, depending on your results, you can take them again early in your senior year.
Extracurricular Activities—get involved! Most colleges and universities don’t just look at academics but what you’re involved in during high school. Things like community service, sports, clubs, organizations or church.
College can be an intimidating place if you don’t know anyone. Many students who have a good experience in college have most likely made a strong group of friends. I encourage all new students to make as many friends as possible so that they become more comfortable in their new home over the next few years.
Keep the tips below in mind once you start your college career.
- Introduce yourself to people in your classes. Not only are you making a friend, but a study buddy as well.
- Join campus clubs. Being involved in clubs is a great way to try new things and make friends while doing it!
- Volunteer for organizations. Volunteering not only looks good on your resume but also is another way of forming relationships with students.
- Go to school events. Whether it is a sports game or guest speaker series, make sure you go and mingle with fellow colleagues!
- Work on campus. Many campuses offer student employment on campus. This is another way to make money and form bonds with fellow students.
- Involve yourself in sports or physical activity classes. Being part of a team is a great way to make life-long friendships!
If you go around colleges and ask students how they feel about college, you will get a variety of responses. However, what I think differentiates those who love college and those who may not favor it too much, is how involved they are with their campus. In high school, you are required to attend rallies, go to classes, and participate in class discussions. In college, all of that changes. You get to plan your own class schedule, decide whether you want to attend school events, and suddenly have all this free time that you didn’t have in high school.
Personally, I participate in clubs, lived at the dorms for two years, and even worked on campus. Because of all this, I love my experience at CSU Long Beach. My friends, especially those who commute to school, don’t feel as strongly because all they do is go to class and then go home. I know it can be tempting use your free time to sit on the couch, eat ice cream, and watch mindless television shows for hours on end, but you will be happier and your future will thank you if you just get involved. College has so much to offer, and it is up to you to get the most out of your time there. So look into what clubs interest you (most campuses have a welcome week where you can look around at the different programs and clubs on campus), join an intermural sports team, build relationships with those around you, and finally, go to class! After all, you are going to spend the next 4 years of your life there, so you might as well enjoy it!