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When should I start preparing for college?

I am going into my junior year of high school in the Fall, anxious that I am another year closer to college. I know it is best to start preparing for college as early as possible, but when is early? I don't want too have to suffer later on and struggle to get all of my applications in. Should I start preparing for college now? #college #high-school #preparation #junior

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Rashaad’s Answer

I don't think it's ever "too early" to start prepping for college. You don't necessarily have to start thinking about applications now. That being said it doesn't hurt, many applications ask for essays but you shouldn't have to worry about that until the summer before your senior year. In the meantime you can:

-Apply for scholarships
-Research universities you're interested in
-Take course at your local community college
-Prepare for tests (SAT, ACT, etc...)
-Consider teachers you'll ask for recommendation letters
-Plan college campus visits

At the end of the day you're still a junior in high school and you should enjoy that time with your friends. Don't stress yourself out too much.

Thanks Mr. Smith! Your words really reassured me as I felt unprepared for college compared to my friends. They are all enrolled in very expensive SAT schools and I am trying my best to stick to my SAT books at home for a few times during my summer break. Karen P.

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Paul’s Answer

Hopefully, you started preparing for college your sophomore year by focusing on your grades and extracurricular activities. Some colleges go as far back as your 2nd year in high school to look at your transcript to see both the courses you took and your grades. They are also interested in enrolling well-rounded students so the teams and clubs count as well.

That being said, the same applies to your junior year. You have to stay on top of your grades! The higher your overall GPA, the more options that will become available to you in terms of the colleges you apply to and the scholarships and grants you qualify for. 

Once you have a handle on your grades you need to start thinking about the colleges you may be interested in based upon your interests and their criteria for admission including the minimum or average GPA.  Go online to research schools and sign-up for e-mails, newsletters, brochures, etc. You also want to start visiting campuses to get a feel for the atmosphere to see if you could imagine yourself being there for the next 4 years.

You also need to look into scholarships. Visit scholarships.com to set-up your profile. The website contains a database of different scholarships and will make matches based upon your interests.