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A student at Regent University: Learn how to prepare for college.

How to Prepare for College and Maximize your Potential

If you’re wondering how to prepare for college so you can get the most out of higher education, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can prepare as you approach your freshman year of college.

In this article, we will look at 11 specific, proven ways to get ready for entering college, one of the most momentous years in early life.

How should you prepare for college?

As you near high school graduation, the task of preparing for college admissions can seem daunting. The time spent in high school is, or course, critical for college preparation. One survey found that 81% of students felt that high school got them “very” or “somewhat” ready for college.1 But the question remains: how do you prepare yourself for college? If you take small steps toward your goal each year, you’ll experience a seamless transition into the exciting world of higher education.

High school is a marathon, not a sprint

The first step is to set yourself up for success in your first two years of high school. Take courses that are prerequisites to more challenging classes later on! Keep your momentum throughout your junior and senior years, mainly because your junior year is the most critical for admissions. Don’t lose energy during senior year (a condition known as “senioritis”) because you have an acceptance letter — it can be revoked.

Boost your grades

Colleges want to see that you’re an exceptional student academically. Your junior year is when you should buckle down and take your most academically challenging courses. APs can carry even more weight in your GPA because they’re graded on a 5-point scale vs. the regular 4-point scale. The key is to find the balance between academic challenges and realistic goals. Receiving a B- in an honors course will look better to college admissions than an A+ in a regular-level class.

Go above and beyond

Don’t just do the bare minimum — college is about going the extra mile! Attend college fairs, take an SAT prep course, get your admissions essays proofread, and turn in your college applications early. The more you push yourself in high school, the easier the transition will be.

Build relationships and connections

Teachers in high school can be great assets for college applications. If you’re particularly interested in a certain subject, put in some extra hours. Yes, the teacher may provide you with an excellent recommendation. But more importantly, you can build up knowledge that will serve you well later on.

Expand your horizons

Hyper-focusing on just academics may be an unwise strategy in the long run. College admissions officers want students who are well-rounded, open-minded, and excited to engage with student life on campus. Start adding activities to your high school schedule that you enjoy but will also look good on a college application. This can include sports, clubs, volunteering, community service, or anything that shows that you have diverse interests and leadership abilities. It can help with admission, but you may also discover an extracurricular activity you want to continue pursuing!

Ace your SAT/ACT

Standardized tests are one of the most important ways colleges can assess your readiness for collegiate classes and exams. There’s no shortage of materials and test prep classes you can take to prepare, both academically and mentally. Standardized testing can be nerve-wracking, especially the SAT or ACT. The more you prepare, the more likely you will get the score you hope for.

Take AP (advanced placement) or honors classes

Advanced classes are designed to mimic the academic rigor of college courses. Sometimes, they can even be more difficult. While acing the exit exams can award you college credit, colleges also like to see that you chose a challenge.

Build good habits

High school and college are two very different lifestyles and educational experiences. Here are some of the significant differences between high school and college life so you can prepare:

  • Set your schedule: You decide what college classes you take and when. Talk with a high school guidance counselor or current college students about the best strategies for building a schedule in college. Remember that freshmen have fewer options than upperclassmen as your first classes will be entry-level. You’ll likely be required to take general education courses like Biology and English 101. Your freshman year schedule may not be exactly what you’d hoped for (like too many classes starting at 8 a.m.), but that will change when you receive higher priority.
  • Living on your own: Your mom, dad, or guardian probably won’t wake you up for class when you’re in college. If it’s your first time living away from your family, you’ll also have to develop strategies for dealing with roommate disputes, cleaning, laundry, finding a part-time job, and all that comes with independent living. You may also be challenged to pursue your faith in a more personal way, something that Regent can help you cultivate.
  • Parents and professors won’t be as involved in your academics: Often, when you’re in high school, parents, teachers, and counselors are invested and engaged in your grades and study habits. In college, the responsibility shifts almost entirely to the student. Practice taking charge of your academics, forming good study habits, and getting assignments done on time (or early).

Visit college campuses and talk to current students

If you have an idea of your top college, visit campus and talk to students about life and academics. This is the best way to get a clear picture of what life will be like in college. Ask about any extracurricular activities they enjoy or sports they play! Ask them what they enjoy most about student life and whether they have any insider tips! They’ll be able to give you the inside scoop.

On-campus and online college admissions events like the ones at Regent can also be helpful resources when it comes to preparing for academics and campus life. These will help clarify your goals while answering your questions about the college admissions process, financial aid, and scholarships.

Talk to school counselors

When it comes to college preparation, guidance counselors are a free resource that high school students should use. Yes, they have expertise and tips you can use to excel in high school academically. But they can also guide you through application processes as you move toward your next steps in college admissions.

College admissions counselors are specific to colleges and can help seamlessly guide you through the admissions process. Fortunately, Regent’s admissions department has a streamlined process and knowledgeable counselors ready to assist you at each step.

Look into financial aid

College costs can be daunting, but there are plenty of ways you can start preparing for the expenses. Start by talking to a financial aid advisor. These individuals are experts on federal financial aid, private college scholarships, and student loans. Regent provides access to funding opportunities such as university financial aid and scholarships and up to $2,000 in tuition grants for eligible transfer students from the Virginia Community College System.

Prepare for college at Regent University

At Regent University, you can be challenged intellectually, socially, spiritually, academically, and professionally to become the best version of yourself. In addition, Regent has excellent resources for helping incoming students as they’re preparing for college, a career path, and beyond. Contact Regent University today to learn how you can become a part of the community and mission today.

1. Teens Feel Ready for College, But Not So Much for Work