Any parent of a college student will confirm that it is never too early to start preparing a high schooler for the rigors of college life. Beginning freshmen year, students with aspirations of college should begin thinking about a four-year plan to get them through the high school years and ensure that they are ready for university challenges. Although the planning can seem overwhelming, here is a simple four-year plan designed to keep students on track:
This is the time to accept challenges with a myriad of classes in core academic areas. Freshman students should take the time to get to know their guidance counselor and to cultivate that relationship going forward. Identifying possible career aspirations and potential community service endeavors are also things to think about at this age.
Now that students have a full year under their belt, it is time to delve deeper and explore college choices as well as information on scholarships, grants, and other issues relating to the finances of higher education. It is also a good idea to use this year to begin preparing for college entrance tests by taking a few practice exams and starting the study process.
The fall of junior year should be earmarked for the PSAT testing while the spring is when most students will take the college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT. This is also the time to start the lengthy process of making a checklist of possible scholarship opportunities and deadlines. By now, students should have a broad list of schools under consideration.
Before senior year, prospective college students should begin college campus visits in an effort to narrow down the top school choices. After whittling down the list of schools and creating the proverbial shortlist, students need to take special care to ensure that the application deadlines are met. If the student wishes to retake the SAT or ACT, this also needs to be done in the fall. By the spring semester of senior year, students need to meet with their counselor to make sure that all graduation requirements are in order and that all scholarship applications and other pertinent financial aid information have been submitted.