College Considerations to Ponder While Still in High School
If you are a high school student who has always known college is right for you, that is great news. To know at a young age that you desire higher education and the career prospects that will follow is somewhat rare. However, just because this is something you always knew you would do does not mean that it happens automatically. There are things you can begin to think about now that will help you in your journey to your freshman year. Below are a few of those considerations and a few helpful tips to get your mind on a collegiate track now.
Where to Attend
This is arguably the biggest decision you will have to make so you should allow yourself a period of time to make it. Even if you have you heart already set on one specific school, allowing yourself to explore a few options is a great way to either solidify that decision or show you things you didn’t yet know that you wanted out of a school. Talk to your counselors and think about what you want in a college experience. If you know the academic track you plan to pursue, consider colleges where that area of study is notable. Or many you are an athlete and know that you want to continue that into your college years either as a participant or as a fan. In which case a strong athletic community would make sense. Decide if you are someone who wants to move away or live at home and commute. That fact alone will help you narrow down your options, especially if you plan to move away and need to consider in-state versus out-of-state universities.
From there you can schedule campus tours. Some of these can be done virtually, however if you are able, you should really visit the campus in person. You will be able to see firsthand a refreshed brand of the school that the internet can sometimes lack. You will also likely be matched up or placed in a group with other hopeful students and be given a guided tour from a current attendee of the school. Being able to ask questions live and get perspective from someone who is already invested in the university is priceless. If you can, devote part of your day to driving around the city where that school is also. You need to get an understanding of whether or not you feel the area in general is a good fit for you.
How to Pay For it
College is expensive and there is no denying that. But expensive does not have to mean unaffordable. Most people are not able to write a check and pay cash for their entire college education and you should know that those who can are often the exception not the rule. If you are going to be funding your own education it is never too early to start exploring opportunities like student loans and scholarships. Use the internet and sites like Navient Marketplace to your advantage and start searching for personalized rates. Playing around with numbers will give you a good idea of what the loan process looks like and what you might be looking at in terms of the amount you need to borrow. You can save money on student loans, scholarships, and FASFA this way, and you can’t beat the ease of the process.
How to Succeed
So much change happens when you move from being a high school senior to a college freshman, and the years that you spend as a college student in general. Preparing yourself as much as possible now for some of those changes will really help you feel like the shifts are less jarring. If you are moving away, some things you can expect to have to handle on your own now would be your schedule, cleaning and cooking, finances, and social life. It is not uncommon for college freshman to go a little wild when they get this first taste of adulthood freedom but don’t let that excitement cause your judgement to lapse or to lose sight of your ultimate goal of getting an education.
In high school you can start preparing for this by taking some of your own personal chores into your own hands. If you are not already, do your own laundry, clean your own room, and you can even do your own grocery shopping. Speak to your parents about your intent and see what wisdom they can offer. Learning time management skills is going to be especially important. When you are not under the watchful eye of a parent or teacher it can be easy to put your studies off but that is a bad habit to start. Preparing now will help ensure that once you are off on your own you have laid a solid foundation for good habits to become your norm.