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3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started the College Process

by Story2 Guest Author, on Jul 16, 2018 8:13:00 AM

 The college process really does sneak up on you in high school—one moment you’re worried about if you know where all of your classes are in the big, scary high school building, and the next moment you’re sitting in a room taking your SAT and filling out college applications with your parents. Seriously, where does the time go?

From my own experience and having talked to hundreds of high school and college students about their experiences, I’ve found that there are a couple of key things that many high school juniors and seniors wish they’d known as freshman and sophomores about tackling the college admissions journey.

1. Understand How the College Process Works

You won’t start taking standardized tests until junior year or filling out college applications until senior year, but it’s incredibly helpful to spend some time at the beginning of high school making yourself knowledgeable about the process.

Buy a couple of college books to start reading about schools so that you can get into a rhythm for how you narrow down your choices. Sign up for a Common App account just so you can get a taste of what that looks like, and even practice filling it out. Take some time to read about standardized testing strategies, and plan out what classes you want to take during the rest of your high school career to satisfy admission requirements.

These steps are small and manageable, but they really do make all the difference a year or two down the line.

2. Start Getting Involved with Extracurriculars You’re Interested In

If a particular club or after-school activity even remotely intrigues you, join it ASAP! One huge issue I’ve seen other high school students struggle with is not getting involved with extracurriculars before junior year and then rushing to try and seem very committed to those activities.

College admissions officers can tell when you’re just using activities to fluff up a resume, and by getting involved earlier and becoming committed for a longer period of time, you demonstrate true passion for something and increase your chances of having things to talk about in regards to that activity.

3. Think About Why You Want to Go to College

Far too many students don’t start thinking about this until it’s too late (I know plenty of people in college who still haven’t really given it much thought)! Why do you want to go to college, and what do you gain from going? It sounds like an incredibly basic question, but so few students can really answer it.

By being honest with yourself about what you want out of your college career this early on, you can start planning out your college admissions journey accordingly by focusing on what you truly want to do.

Freshman and sophomore year are great times to really start diving into the college process before you have to do the whole thing for real, so treasure that time and really take advantage of it!

Lily Herman is co-founder of The Prospect, the largest student-run college access organization in the world. In addition to her work on The Prospect, she also works with USA TODAY, The Muse, HelloFlo, and Her Campus. In recent months, her work has been featured on Newsweek, Mashable, Forbes, TIME, and Lifehacker. You can follow The Prospect on Facebook and Lily on Twitter.

Topics:college admission