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September 14, 2009

Start preparing for college as a freshman

By Jenna Potter

Junior Reporter, Youth Journalism International

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Jenna Potter, studying for college tests in Manotick, Ontario, Canada.

MANOTICK, Ontario, Canada – Preparing for college doesn’t have to be a long and arduous process, no matter what the procrastinators say.

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The key to avoiding those sleepless nights and caffeine-high all-nighters is to be one step ahead of the game – by starting in your freshman year of high school.

Take small steps every day from that first year on and you’ll be able to enjoy your senior year while everyone else is cramming in their rushed essays and barely meeting deadlines.

The key to college preparation success is organization and devotion.

Freshmen year is full of new beginnings, opportunities and a chance to get lost in the depths of your high school’s hallways.

Although your mind may be wandering towards the endless array of extra curriculars, or simply just trying to survive in the sea of upperclassmen, college should be slowly seeping into your thoughts as well.

Freshmen year is a great place to start planning for the future. Set up a meeting with your school guidance or career counselor.

It’s their job to aid you in the process of selecting courses suited to your field of interest, to help you with your college applications and reduce any anxieties you may have about high school or college.

This leads to building your resume. Tailor your extracurricular plan according to what you enjoy, rather than what would look good on your resume.

Putting forth energy and time into such an important component of your college application is much easier to do when you’re dedicated to what you’re doing.

Whether you’re implementing a new recycling program with the eco team, or arguing up a storm with the debate club, an extracurricular should never be treated lightly.

Don’t stress too much about college in your first year of high school. It’s better to focus on developing good relationships with your teachers, taking advantage of what your school has to offer, maintaining ideal grades, and deciding which standardized tests are suitable or required for you to take.

In sophomore year, it’s ideal to have a clear sense of which career path you plan to pursue. It’s essential that you speak to your counselor about standardized tests, because most colleges require scores from SATs or ACTs.

Sophomore year is also an excellent time to visit college campuses.

Many colleges offer class sit-ins that provide you with a real sense of the learning experience at that particular school.

This can help you pick which colleges you’d like to apply to, as some won’t work with your particular learning style.

In sophomore year, you should earnestly consider AP or college preparation courses to further challenge you. I cannot stress how impressive AP courses would appear on your resume or college application, especially when applying to a highly selective school.

An often overlooked component of your application that many colleges do take into serious consideration is a part time job. Colleges are looking for highly motivated and committed students, and maintaining a part time job helps show that.

The main idea is to get your foot in the door in the college application process, in order to impose less stress on yourself later on.

Relax and enjoy your high school years, but don’t forget your responsibility to your own future.

High school is a time to learn about yourself, and to develop your own personal voice and unique characteristics. Allowing your personality to shine through in your schoolwork, personal relationships, resume, job and extra curriculars will exemplify a strong character and positive work ethic in your college application.

Good luck!

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