Tackle High School AND Prep for College with These Steps

Sophomore and Juniors, welcome to your second semester. Freshman, congrats on surviving your first semester of high school (hopefully). Seniors, just hang in there and don’t get Senioritis…okay? Really. It’s a thing.

If you’re a younger high school student there are insanely simple things you can do and just HAPPEN to prep for college admissions (which by the way will also make your mom proud when you let her know how on top of it you are).

Consider academics

Building a successful, yet challenging class schedule to showcase your smarts and remain competitive in a way that makes sense for YOU is one of the best things you can do. Your daily school work matters in the eyes of admission. Check this out:

  • The top factors in the admission decisions were grades in college preparatory courses, overall high school GPA, admission test scores, and strength of curriculum, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) State of College Admission Report.
  • 77 percent of colleges consider total GPA and grades within your college prep courses as top factors in admission decisions. More than half of colleges consider strength of curriculum (the depth and levels that within your subject areas you reach) to be another top factors. Grades matter. Your schedule matters. Your job is to build and foster successful and sustainable habits early on.

Reflect on your previous semester, time management and your courses. What worked? What didn’t? Can you add rigor? Do you need to pull back? Don’t go adding a ton of APs if you’ve never taken one. On the flip side, tackle on new challenging courses when you’ve been successful! Colleges will look at you within the context of what’s available to you!

Evaluate your extracurricular commitments

What you do outside the classroom can be a window into your interests, goals, who you are as an individual and what you could potentially impact on a college campus through your efforts. Remember, it doesn’t matter WHAT you do, but that you find meaning, purpose and joy out of your activities. So if you think, eh I don’t really like wrestling at all anymore, think about another activity that you can dive into instead that might bring more joy, meaning and purpose.

  • If you’re a freshman, join, explore and try new things! Get involved, check out your high school clubs, what’s going on in your community? Talk to your counselor, a teacher or someone to give you ideas. If you don’t like it, that’s fine! Move on to the next.
  • As you progress throughout high school, take time at the end of each semester to evaluate your commitments. 
    • How much time did you spend on the activity?
    • Does it bring you joy, purpose and meaning?
    • If college didn’t exist, would you still be doing it?
    • If you do enjoy your activities 
      • How can you dive deeper? Foster more leadership, consider creating something younger students can benefit from, broaden your knowledge base, etc. 

Create an appropriate college timeline/checklist and set goals along the way

Work with your counselor, check your school for resources and create goals for bigger picture items like setting a game plan and taking the SAT/ACT or building your college list. Want some examples? Check out our Beverly Hills High School College Center downloadable guides page for College Prep Checklists for Sophomores through Seniors.

Explore colleges…just dive on in

Take a look at this helpful post for how to research and get to know colleges and universities. Interested in exploring International Universities? Check out this incredible Guide to International Universities by NACAC.

Self-care is key to any success 

Burn out can easily happen if you stack too many commitments, too tough of a course load and neglect your self-care. Here are some EASY ways to manage:

  • Download Headspace (an App that gives 10 minute guided breathing meditations from a guy with an incredible accent)
  • Find your activity that lets off some steam and DO IT (swimming, walking, writing, drawing, listening to music, running)
  • Turn of Social-Media, you don’t have to turn it off entirely, but recognize when you’re exhausted or need to focus and switch to airplane mode
  • Take a breath, literally breath in and hold for one, breath out and count to three, do this before a big exam, interview or when you’re just feeling overwhelmed
  • Know your support team, friends, counselor, teacher, etc. who can you go to to talk?

Lastly, remember this, the average selectivity rate (the percentage of applicants who are offered admission) at four-year colleges and universities in the United States was 66.1 percent for Fall 2015 which is actually higher than it has been in the past two years! (NACAC, State of College Admission Report)

There are over 3,000 four-year colleges and universities in the United States alone, that’s not even including international options. College is accessible to YOU! Now get after it!

High Point University, NC

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