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Not going in straight to a four-year university was something I chose to do, but in hindsight I have my doubts about it. I attended Ventura and Oxnard Colleges before transferring into CSU Channel Islands. It was a great experience and it did help me decide what career I wanted in life, but in those two years I dedicated all my time to school without getting involved in any other activities while I was there. When I began my first semester in CSUCI, I knew that I did want to be involved in more activities, but being a transfer student is not easy. I had to get used to a new campus, new classes, and a new system. Thankfully my sister, who has been attending this school since her freshman year here, was able to help me during my second semester. Little by little, I have been able to be more involved in school and I know that each program I have been involved in since then has helped me grow as a student and as a person.
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.
Volunteering is not only an important part of college, but it’s a great way to give back and make yourself feel good! I’ve had a lot of great volunteer opportunities, including tutoring and mentoring elementary school kids at a public library, helping out at different events, like the Día de Los Muertos festival, and even building houses in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. It’s a great feeling knowing you can give back or just help someone out every now and then. Because let’s face it, we could all use a helping hand every now and then, so why not let it be for someone else?