College: How Do I Get There?

collegeIt’s right there on the horizon, you know it’s coming and it’s scary. It’s college, this big scary concept which seems like no one truly understands. How do I apply? How do I pay for it? How will I know what college is right for me? It can be a bit overwhelming. Have no fear! It will all fall into place.

Although junior and senior year can seem like the most difficult and stressful years of your life, they are also the most important in your high school career. It can seem like there is so much to do and just not enough time in the day to get it all done. The key is to take a step back and  deal with one obstacle at a time. Also it’s best to start the process early; it will make it less stressful to know you have time to do what needs to be done.

I started thinking about what colleges I was interested in and what aspects about college are most important to me at the beginning of my junior year. My school, Boston Latin Academy, is specified as a college prep level high school so college has always been in the back of my mind. If you haven’t started thinking about college, that’s okay, you still have plenty of time!

The first and perhaps most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of people here to help you and yes, they understand the college process! You can seek help right in your own high school. The first step is to make an appointment with your guidance counselor.  They want to help you! Your guidance counselor will likely encourage you to take charge of your own future and be there to help you every step of the way. They can give you the resources you need in order to start seriously thinking about college. Many high schools have computer programs complete with search engines that can help you find colleges that have everything you’re looking for.

Once you have done some research, it’s best to visit the colleges you are interested in. Colleges almost always have scheduled dates for touring their campus or will allow you to make an appointment to have a personal tour. It’s a great way to get a feel for what student life is like. You should ask yourself things like “Can I see myself going to school here?” and “Will I be happy here?” Visiting various colleges is a great way to figure what is most important to you in a college or university.

In your junior year, you should also start to think about SATs and ACTs (American College Test) which are standardized tests that colleges use to gauge your abilities as a student. Again, this is something you can ask your guidance counselor about, they can help you to sign up. There is also a website, in which you can take both online review courses and sign up for classroom courses of SAT and ACT test preparation. These tests are definitely something you’ll want to prepare for and there are many options on how to do so.

As for when to take the SATs or ACTs, it is most commonly suggested that you take them in either March or May of your junior year and again in the fall of your senior year. This gives you the opportunity to get the best test scores possible, as the higher of the two scores is the one that will be seen by the colleges you apply to.

College is a lot to think about and a very important life decision to make and it is okay to be nervous about it. It’s also okay to change your mind and then change it again. In the end, everything will work out and whatever the outcome, it happens for a reason. Take a step back, relax, and enjoy the ride.