Entering college is one of those life-changing events that will have a profound impact on your future. While starting college is exciting, it is also a time of major adjustments.
If you’re a high school senior who is planning to attend college, a little preparation can help to make the transition as smooth as possible. We have some tips for high school students preparing for college to help you get ready for this next chapter in your life.
1. Choose Your College Early
For most students, choosing a college is a difficult decision. There are a number of factors that you and your parents need to consider, including cost, available programs of study, and the location and size of the campus, to name just a few.
The sooner you start the selection process, the less stressful it will be. A good rule of thumb is to narrow down your choices to a handful by the start of your senior year of high school. This gives you more time to make visits, check into financial aid, and begin the application process.
Applying early to your school(s) of choice can also increase your chances of acceptance. Your high school guidance counselor can be a valuable resource throughout the college selection process, so be sure to meet with them frequently during your senior year.
2. Look Into Degree Programs
Some students choose a college because they are interested in a particular degree program the college offers. If you know what you’d like to study, this can be an effective way to focus your college search. However, many students who plan to attend college are not sure what they’d like to study.
Even students who think they know what they want to study are likely to change their minds. Research shows that as many as 80 percent of students end up switching majors at least once during their time at college. That means you’re in good company if you end up changing your mind down the road or start out undecided. However, learning about different degree programs and career paths during your senior year of high school can help you gain a sense of direction.
Additionally, declaring a major before or during your freshman year may be important for certain degree programs — such as those that involve prerequisites you must complete before taking other major-specific courses.
If you’re unsure about a four-year program, however, keep in mind that there are also accelerated degree programs out there that can be completed in less than four years.
3. Improve Your Study and Work Habits
You’ll probably find a greater need to study once you get to college than you did in high school. If your study and work habits are a little lax, your senior year is a good time to improve them.
College lectures generally require you to take a lot of notes, so use your senior classes to hone your note-taking skills. Setting up a regular study schedule now can also help you form the self-discipline that will lead to future academic success. You may be excited by the idea of only spending 15 hours or so a week in class, but many college freshmen struggle because they don’t realize they need to spend about that same amount of time studying and completing homework.
You will also have to spend more time doing research than what you’ve been used to, so learning how to use your high school’s library and perfecting your online research skills can pay dividends once you get to college. College professors tend to have high standards for the sources you use in your research, so take some time to learn about evaluating online sources to determine whether they are reliable.
4. Sharpen Your Computer Skills
Most high school students today likely assume their digital skills are top-notch, but you may need to sharpen some computer skills you’re not used to using. If your current digital activity is limited to streaming videos and music and posting on your social media channels, you’ll likely need to enhance your computer skills before entering college.
You can find free tutorials and more detailed courses online that can help you learn some essential computer skills. Make sure you practice typing and familiarize yourself with programs your professors may expect you to use. This includes Microsoft Office programs like Word and PowerPoint as well as Google Workspace programs like Google Docs and Slides.
Understanding how to navigate these programs will save you some time and stress when you write your first term paper or create your first presentation.
5. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone Socially
Who says college has to be all work and no play? One of the great things about college is that it allows you to branch out and meet new people from all types of backgrounds.
Many of these people will become treasured friends you’ll want to stay in touch with long after graduation. If you are a little shy, your senior year in high school is a good time to practice your social skills and develop a little more self-confidence. Get involved with clubs and activities and try approaching others who seem a bit on the shy side too.
Vista College Degree Programs
If you are interested in an accelerated degree program that can help you prepare for your future career in short order, learn more about our degree programs at Vista College. Learn in-person on our campus or learn online. Either way, you can benefit from flexible schedules and personalized instruction. Not every high school senior wants to spend another four years in school, but that doesn’t mean you have to say no to college. Vista College is here to help you prepare for your future.