As a high school counselor, I get asked all kinds of questions about college. One of the more popular questions I get from students is “what do I need to do to get into college?” Last week an eighth grader came to visit me. She made an appointment to come see me during her study hall to talk about her college plans. She wanted to know what she should be doing now to get into a good college. She had put a lot of thought into this, and already had big goals in mind. I love to see this kind of motivation and planning at such a young age, when senioritis has not yet set in! Here is what I told her:
Take rigorous college preparatory classes
Students that have the ability should take honors and AP courses. Colleges like to see honors and AP coursework. Students that are strong in science and math can take additional math and science courses, beyond what is required. The same is true for foreign language. Colleges like to see additional math, science, and foreign language courses and a rigorous schedule throughout high school.
Get good grades and test scores
Students need to do their best in their coursework starting freshman year. When seniors apply for college in the fall, schools will make admission decisions based on freshman, sophomore, and junior year grades. Test scores can be important not only for college admission, but also for scholarships and admission into honors colleges. Students can use their PLAN and PSAT test results to determine if they need test preparation help. Students should start taking the ACT and SAT by second semester of their junior year.
Research and visit colleges
Students should visit different types of college campuses – large and diverse, small and private, or Christian colleges. This will help them determine which school is the right fit. College fairs are also helpful to attend. Students can use some of the college searches online to research admission requirements.
It is important for students to participate in extracurricular activities, and to do community service. This is something that most colleges will ask about on their applications. Scholarship committees love to give money to students that are involved in their community and serving in some way.
One of the best things about my job is to watch the process students go through as they make important decisions about their future. I love being a small part of the process and providing assistance that helps students make some of the most important decisions in their lives. Sometimes students start off in one direction and end up going in a totally different direction. It is always exciting for me to see where our students end up and what they achieve.
Mrs. Christy Lee serves LCS as the secondary guidance counselor. To reach Christy, you may email her at email@example.com.