Contrary to popular belief, preparing for your first year of college involves more than just taking the SAT’s and filling out applications. During your senior year of high school, it is easier than not to slack off after signing that acceptance letter. However, do not assume that your college acceptance is set in stone simply because you have been admitted.
The College Board offers some frightening statistics pertaining to first year college entrance that are uncomfortably high:
- Half of all college students do not have adequate academic preparation and therefore must take remedial classes.
- Over one quarter of the freshman at four-year colleges do not make it to their sophomore year.
Most colleges make it clear that acceptance is contingent upon continued academic success. This includes your entire senior year. Letting your grades slip and becoming less involved may cause a school to reconsider your admittance, even retracting it. After all, do not forget that a final transcript is sent to your select school after you graduate, so the school administrators are able to review your final grades. This being said, these grades can make a big impact on the amount of classes you will have to take once beginning school, as well as your acceptance.
- Stay Active and Involved: Keeping involved in extracurricular activities in your high school, such as sports, clubs and other forms of community service will boost your résumé, as well as give you experience in working with others. Also, try to gain some work experience, whether it be through a part-time job or some sort of internship.
- Challenge Yourself: Do not assume that you should take easy classes just because it is your last year of high school, and you have already been accepted to college. Taking challenging courses, like AP courses, and getting good grades will improve your academic image to a college, as well as allow you to opt out of certain classes if you score exceptionally on the AP Exams, saving you money.
- Apply for Financial Aid Early: While most colleges require that you fill out financial aid forms like the FAFSA or the CSS Profile, filing for financial aid as early as possible will increase your chance of receiving the optimal amount of aid. This also pertains to scholarships, grants and things like that, which you should focus on applying for your senior year of high school. Your school guidance counselors can assist you in this process.
- Get Insight: Try to obtain as much insight as you can to the college experience before actually going to school. Talk to current college students, and ask them about various aspects of college life (what they like or dislike, mistakes to avoid, any recommendations they may have, etc.). Taking a college course at a community college during your senior year could also give you some idea of what college courses will be like, as well as potentially give credits toward college.
And don’t forget to stay on top of your financial aid by filling out your FAFSA and CSS Profile accurately and in a timely fashion.