How to Get Ready to Apply to College

College applications are a rite of passage for juniors and graduating high school seniors. This year, unfortunately, the landscape for entering into this new phase of life has been made a little more challenging by the continued beat down as a result of Covid-19. However life continues to grind on, and college still awaits millions of graduates all across the country. If you are entering into these final stages of your high school career you have surely come face to face with the prospects of finding employment in the auto industry, or music, or marketing — as you prepare to leave the comforts of high school behind, it becomes evident that a plan is necessary in order to take these next steps out into life.

For many, this is college enrollment and two or four years (or perhaps many more) of a fantastically liberating educational rollercoaster that lies ahead. Getting ready to apply takes a long planning phase however that starts far earlier in your high school journey.

Get to know yourself, first.

Understanding your own interests and needs is the most important part of approaching the college application process. In order to pick your major and find universities that match your needs and desires you first need to understand what those needs and desires are. This is a multi-stage process though. Taking the time to explore your own interests can help you make this important set of decisions far easier. First, you need to understand the things that move you.

Perhaps you are inspired by powerful women in law, like Malliha Wilson, or maybe you feel a passion for engineering or finance. Whatever gets you going, it’s important to let your heart guide you toward these conclusions. Forcing a decision that doesn’t conform to your heart’s desire is a great way to end up in a job you hate or working in an industry that makes you feel like you are missing something. There really isn’t a set period of time in which you should complete this introspection, but of course, it helps to understand these basic truths about your passions before applying to a college course.

Starting in your freshman year is a great way to explore interests that appeal to you; taking on electives that sound interesting — rather than simply picking classes that will improve your GPA or pad your resume — is a great way to collect additional information about all that is out there waiting for you. Whether you’re a Sagittarius or Gemini, a Scorpio or Virgo, there is a path forward that will give you that sense of fulfillment that you’re longing for.

Just like if you were to research “Which type of edibles matches your zodiac sign?” — starting with a zodiac calendar might be the perfect introduction to many different types of career fields that you may never have heard of or even considered. Striking a wide berth in your search for college courses and prospective career fields is the best way to evaluate the hidden things that make you tick. It’s also an important first step in picking a college to attend as well, considering that each college has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Think about the intangibles of college life.

When planning to apply to colleges it’s just as important to think about what each option offers you as a student as well. Working to identify a college campus that offers the things that your growing mind will need is crucial to picking the right campus life and educational blend that will make for a memorable and rewarding college experience. It’s not enough to simply go where your parents went or select a school close to home out of convenience.

Colleges offer a wide variety of different benefits to their students, and each campus is different in terms of its amenities and offerings. This is because each student body has grown to expect a unique blend of inclusions and approaches to the educational process. Some schools place importance on sports, for instance, making for a campus life that revolves around the football, basketball, and baseball seasons. These universities might pump a lot of cash into tertiary facilities that impact your life as a student — these might include a larger gym, swimming pools, and additional courts, and even a campus layout that prominently features sporting grounds and a vibrant local community of restaurants and shops.

This might be the perfect setup for some college students, while others might benefit from a college campus that puts a premium on the dorm organization. These universities might center their buildings around a library or two, with multiple connected housing facilities that place freshman dorms right next to sites of learning and the buildings where their introductory classes will be located. This is a great setup that many campuses take advantage of in order to set their first-year students up for success.

Additionally, it’s important for you to consider the professors who work at the colleges that you are considering. Many students (some four million in 2018) chose to continue their education after completing their four-year bachelor’s degree. Moving on to graduate school is a choice that can impact your initial enrollment in a major way. Working with professors who will personally guide your academic future is a great idea for those who are already contemplating continued education. Selecting a university based on the staff is one consideration that you must be ready for.

Keep your record clean.

As you prepare to apply for a number of colleges, it’s essential to remember that you will need a clean record. Check if universities run background checks on students. If they do, you will need to keep your grades up as you enter the final leg of your high school education. You also need to keep your criminal record clean too. Universities have been known to revoke offers of acceptance after learning of untoward behavior (including hard time, sexual assault, or felony convictions) before arrival on campus. Make sure you keep your fun above board in order to lock in your spot at that prestigious site of learning.

Applying to college is a major decision and picking the right place for your education starts years before the final bell of your high school years. So, get to work evaluating where you want to see yourself in the future as early as possible.