Never too late for college prep

As a recent high school graduate, I have been preparing for college this fall. However, most of the preparation I have done started long before this summer — it started four years ago, when I was a ninth grader..

By no means am I an expert on college, but I have learned a few things along the way. Here are some ways for high school students to start preparing now to help make the transition to college go smoothly.

• Scholarships

Apply for as many scholarships as you can. College is very expensive, so scholarships are a wonderful way to help cover the cost. Even while balancing a busy high school schedule of classes, friends, family, jobs, homework and everything else, make time to spend at least 30 minutes a week to research and apply for scholarships.

Also, keep a list of all the scholarships you apply for. It is helpful to have them all written down in one place when looking over them. And be sure to follow up with additional paperwork if needed.

• Service

Keep a log of all the service you have done. There are many scholarships available based on service. It makes it easier if you’ve recorded how many hours and what type of service you have done, whether it’s walking dogs at an animal shelter or picking up litter in your neighborhood.

Also, be involved in different high school activities to be well-rounded as this will look better on college applications. Plus, being involved helps you make new friends and find new interests.

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• College classes

Whether you decide AP, CE or Early College classes are good for you, all of them teach how to handle a college workload. Practicing college coursework will prepare you for when you actually get to college. It is also nice to already have some credits when you enter college, especially since the cost of most of these classes are a lot lower for high school students.

• Research majors

Learn about different majors that interest you. You can talk to people in that field and take some classes in high school to see if the subject is something you want to pursue. Find out which classes you will need to take and what kind of activities you can do to prepare for your major.

Explore which colleges or universities have good programs for your major and which schools interest you.

• Organization

Learn and practice organization techniques that will benefit you in the future. Learn how to be prepared and how to be on time. Procrastination is something many teenagers struggle with, and it is definitely not your friend when college or scholarship application deadlines approach.

• Save money

Learn how to manage your finances and save for the future, even if it’s a little bit at a time. Not only is it good to have money saved to pay for college, but it also teaches you the importance of prioritizing your financial needs.

• Visit campus

If possible, visit the campuses of schools that interest you, locally or even out of state. It is good to get familiar with the place and make sure it fits what you are looking for.

• Get good grades

Work hard in high school to get good grades and test scores. Even though it seems far away, college is just around the corner.

And remember, all the effort you put in during high school can pay off and make a difference when you move on to college.

Arianna Rackham is a recent graduate of Northridge High School. She enjoys writing and playing the violin. Contact her at [email protected]